ASAE ForesightWorks Drivers of Change: Workforce and Workplace


Automating Work 

Machine learning, robotics, data analytics, and the internet of things are making growing swaths of work automatable. The adoption of automation will vary substantially by industry, occupation, and even workplace—but automation could transform most kinds of work and affect workers at every level, including senior management. Associations’ members and their own workforces will increasingly be reshaped as automation transforms the work of organizations. 

Changing Science 

The global scientific enterprise is changing. New regions are developing research centers and funding science on the scale of traditional science hubs in the West, while in the West, citizen science and DIY research are supplementing and challenging traditional scientific institutions. At the same time, falling trust and rising sociopolitical polarization are impacting science, while automation brings new changes and challenges. 

Disability Inclusion 

Evolving public recognition of disability will require greater accessibility and inclusivity in the workplace and beyond. Gaining ground is the concept that disability and ability are not a binary but instead a spectrum, with every individual’s physical, behavioral, and cognitive traits falling on multiple points along that spectrum. The number of workers who are disabled will increase and broaden expectations for accessible products, solutions, and environments. Organizations will need to navigate a complex and evolving terrain of expectations and rules. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

American society and workplaces will continue to grow more diverse, equitable, and inclusive as values evolve and younger generations increase their share in the demographic mix. This will occur against a backdrop of social and political polarization—with the workplace as a primary arena in which contending views collide and issues are worked out. To meet these challenges, inclusion and equity efforts should be treated as a systemic priority, supported by a new generation of tools and processes. 

More Human Humans 

Automation will steadily increase the relative value of certain human qualities in work, including social skills and creativity. In the age of artificial intelligence, humans will remain relevant not by knowing but by thinking, listening, relating, and collaborating at the highest level. 

New Forms of Work 

Freelance, gig, contract, and temporary work and the infrastructure to support them (e.g., online platforms and reputation systems) are growing. The number of independent professionals is expanding, and networked organizations rely on them. Associations will have new opportunities to serve these workers and advocate for their interests. 

Reputation by the Numbers 

Vast amounts of data will support reputation systems, and reputation will increasingly challenge credentials in landing a job. As worker reputation systems and human resources analytics grow, assessment of an individual’s suitability for work will be driven by a person’s algorithmic match to employer needs. 

Supporting Mental Health 

Views of mental health care are changing, and there is growing attention to the importance and ubiquity of mental health issues. A binary view of well versus unwell is breaking down—though the question of what constitutes mental health may prove increasingly contentious. New eorts are underway to achieve equity and access in mental health, while therapy innovation is growing.  

A World Reshaped by COVID 

As the worst pandemic in more than a century ebbs through the early 2020s, some of its effects will prove ephemeral, as deeply rooted habits and institutions return to their previous states, while other trends that have been kicked into higher gear will accelerate. Associations will face an evolving, patchwork environment of regressing and accelerating trends. 

Updated 2024 


Other ASAE ForesightWorks Topic Areas

Content, Learning, and Knowledge
Data and Technology
Demographics and Membership
Economic Conditions
Society and Politics
Workforce and Workplace