The Future of HR: How to Prepare for the Boundaryless World of Work

Posted in HR Trends

What will HR look like in five years? 🤔

With the new year freshly behind us, everyone is voicing their thoughts on what HR will look like in the upcoming year, but underneath all of these different theories and hypotheses is one common undertone:

The future of work, and therefore, the future of HR, is boundaryless.

The aim of this article is to dive into what “boundaryless work” means, what “boundaryless HR” will look like, and how you can be prepared for the change.

What does boundaryless HR mean?

Before COVID, our workplaces had more walls – and not just cubicle walls (although we had more of those too).

We all sat in the same office. We all came in at roughly the same time, and we left at the same time. We parked in the same parking lots and met in physical rooms. Online meetings were a rarity.

Our different roles and departments were also more “walled,” with managers in their offices and each department sitting in its own distinct area. We all had well-defined tasks in our well-defined roles.

And then came COVID. 😩

Almost suddenly, we lost all of our physical walls as our workplaces shifted to hybrid and remote work, but we lost much more than the physical partitions: The general concept of rigidity in the workplace had begun to fall away.

The firm categories into which we fit at work started to fade, and the lines that used to separate our different roles and responsibilities were also blurred.

The rigidity we once knew is gone. Our work has become boundaryless.

What does boundaryless HR look like?

As our workforce has changed, HR needs to adapt.

We can no longer host on-site events in the same way or pull all of our employees together into classroom trainings. We need to be much more culturally sensitive and aware of different time zones and language barriers, and communication can no longer be “one size fits all.”

Still, despite the separation, we must preserve the greater mission and purpose of our organization. What makes our company a great place to work? How do we continue to promote the culture that helps our employees feel encouraged and motivated to do their best work?

And through all this, how can we strike this delicate balance and help give our people the stability they need to feel secure through change?

A McKinsey survey of over 100 CHROs and people leaders revealed the following innovation shifts that are predicted to have the biggest impact on the future of HR:

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Using artificial intelligence to provide individualized care and customization? Empowering our business leaders and managers to take more control? Putting agile first and offering an individualized “cafeteria approach” to HR? Focusing on the individual employee experience?

What do all of these have in common?


Each of these items promotes more flexible and individualized methods that function in a boundaryless HR environment.

But we know that this list of innovation shifts can be incredibly intimidating.

How are we supposed to make these huge changes, like leaning into AI and machine learning? How do we practically productize our HR services? 😵‍💫

The good news is that you’re not alone: Only 16% of organizations surveyed in the 2023 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey say their leaders are very ready to use technology to improve work outcomes and team performance. Only 18% say their leaders are very ready to develop the right workplace model for their organization.

The better news is that there’s a relatively simple way to get started.

How can you prepare for boundaryless HR?

No matter which HR operating model prevails at your company (and McKinsey has identified five of them), the trend is a higher distribution of responsibilities to build in this flexibility (either by moving some of these responsibilities to a Center of Excellence (COE), leadership, or even automation).

As the people or teams executing these HR programs, trainings, and protocols move farther apart, you need to work even more closely together to preserve the very ethos of your company. Let’s not lose the best practices we worked so hard to accumulate. Let’s find ways to make them more accessible, repeatable, and adaptable for our employees and each of our key stakeholders who need them.

The work our COEs are doing needs to be captured and preserved, but it also needs to be distributed to managers and leaders in a way that’s easily accessible to them and doesn’t require much effort to implement effectively.

Regardless of when, where, and how our people need us, we need to have the resources available to them.

With Enboarder, our customers simultaneously accomplish both of these priorities by simply mapping their “best practice” processes (things like onboarding, DE&I and mentorship programs, learning and development, etc.) onto automated journeys in our no-code builder:

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As these automated journeys are easily customizable and integrated with all of the existing tools you already use, stakeholders can easily select and use the journey from your library that suits their particular goals and needs, and your people get a consistent, on-brand experience, regardless of their physical location or work set up or their specific manager.

By enabling your leaders to access these “best practice” employee experience journeys from anywhere, your team can be more flexible, agile, distributed, and truly boundaryless while providing the consistency that your people need from you in this time of change.

According to Deloitte, there’s a huge readiness gap in this area: 93% of business leaders believe using tech can improve work outcomes, but only 22% say their organization is ready to use it.

But remember that technology doesn’t substitute humans. As Deloitte argues: “You need to harness technologies that help your people and teams become the best possible versions of themselves. This means nudging them to learn new behaviors, correct old behaviors, and sharpen skills.” Automated journeys like the ones mentioned above improve teamwork and help teams stay connected.

No one knows the future of HR 🔮

But we know the fundamentals won’t change.

We know our people still need to feel safe, and they need consistency and connection to feel free to do their best work. The only thing that will change is how we meet these needs and desires.

The goal is to find the best way to increase your flexibility while still offering your employees what they need to thrive in their environment.

The future of HR is boundaryless. Will you be ready?

Ready to see how Enboarder can prepare you for the future of HR? Book a demo today.

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