Into the Future: A Look at 2024's Biggest Workplace Disruptions

As we wrap up the first half of 2024, let’s appreciate the gravity of the current corporate landscape. We are witnessing one of the most significant corporate shifts ever—this is an exciting, dynamic time.

If you’re familiar with Cential Consulting, what we’re passionate about, and what we’ve been exploring, then you know how vocal we are about the disruptions that technology brought to the risk and compliance landscape in 2023. We’re strong advocates for adapting to changing risk ecosystems in sustainable, functional ways for your organization, and the past year has been a prime example of that.

That is what we see happening in 2024: adapt or fall behind. The dynamic momentum from 2023 didn’t slow down in the new year; it increased. There have been two major disruptions from 2023 that organizations now have to address: remote workforces and artificial Intelligence. Let’s look at how teams can maximize growth through adaptability this year and the decisions risk managers face.

As our world wrestles to regain a new balance in the wake of 2020 and COVID-19, it will be essential to evaluate the most healthy and productive strategic decisions for your organization.

From a psychological perspective, the sudden and prolonged shift to work-from-home models satiated people’s desire to be near their families and in spaces where they’re comfortable. From a professional standpoint, people proved that they can still be efficient away from the watchful eyes of management. However, complete work-from-home structures underscore the challenges of maintaining organizational culture and employee engagement and introduce new complexities for managing remote teams.

As the world reels and finds balance, companies must have a clear vision of the structure best suited for their organization as a whole. Aspects such as culture, talent management, and employee satisfaction should be considered in building this. In order to stay competitive in talent retention and attraction, there needs to be a level of flexibility, but larger decisions should be made based on the structure. 

Every approach to working location policies has its own unique opportunities and challenges, and different businesses require varying levels of engagement from their team members. But the reality is that if you’re unwavering in your in-office-only policies, you’ll face difficulties regarding talent retention and attraction as more and more employees prefer flexible work arrangements.

Just as the disruption to workforce structures requires unique consideration, so too does the integration of AI into business processes. AI has quickly transcended buzzword status to become a transformative force across the workforce, and it’s critical for organizations to find the balance between managing risks and pursuing opportunities. But zoom out and consider how we can use AI as a microcosm of how we adapt to new and revolutionary technologies or ideas.

There are dual risks inherent in AI adoption: the pitfalls of flagrant use, including privacy and ethical considerations, juxtaposed by the risk of being left behind in an increasingly AI-driven world. Businesses must be intentional about how they grapple with the rapid pace of change. Otherwise, they will be left behind. It sounds harsh, and it may be. However, understanding and harnessing these disruptive technologies will be paramount to staying competitive in an increasingly digital landscape.

AI’s rapid advancement introduces new risks like increased cybersecurity threats surrounding data privacy and advanced attacks. Ethical considerations, such as employment concerns and intellectual property use, need sufficient attention as well. These emerging risks, among others, require risk management groups to continue implementing AI focused policies and procedures. Risk-conscious decision making around AI will allow for a proactive and efficient approach to reaching strategic objectives in a dynamic technological landscape. 

Though the concerns are clear, so are the benefits to successful AI integration into business processes. Companies can experience rapid growth in a much more sustainable way with reduced reliance on manual processes. AI can wrangle mass amounts of data, if properly formatted, to strategize proactively and remain ahead of the curve. Failure to implement AI processes puts an organization at an automatic disadvantage.

Organizations must be transparent with key stakeholders about potential changes and ramifications of AI on the workforce. Empathy is required in addressing people’s anxiety around the increased presence of AI in the workplace. As further regulations emerge, companies need to respond quickly, sharing their approach with their teams to build trust and loyalty.

In one word, we can describe the forecast for 2024 as volatile. But there is one thing we can be sure of: how we should respond to whatever shift or new technological introduction comes our way. Seek to be agile, ethical, and proactive in mitigating new and unfamiliar risks. The foundation you set for your business will determine the velocity at which you can grow and adapt to the inevitable changes that will come our way this year, so be intentional in taking holistic approaches to each new problem and don’t be afraid to explore new opportunities.

Look out for our next blog post, which will further explore the risks and opportunities related to the use of AI in enterprise risk management.