3 trends changing the way we work 


There are a growing number of people who don’t imagine their career following traditional paths which poses challenges and opportunities for organisations, writes Fonterra’s acting head of people & culture, Mark van Zon. 

There is a transformation happening in workplaces around the world. The nature of work is changing at an eye-watering speed as smart technologies buzz into life, new generations enter the workforce and the face of society changes. 

These forces are reshaping how work gets done, who does it, and even what work looks like.

So, what are some of these the technologies and trends changing the nature of work? And more importantly – how do organisations respond to them?

The first big trend is the gig economy.

Around the world, increasing numbers of workers are giving up traditional, permanent roles in favour of taking up contracts, or “gigs”, with a range of employers. Workers want flexibility, choosing when to work and for how long, and there can be benefits for employers too.

According to Forbes, 92% of Millennials want to work according to their own schedule. At Fonterra, we launched a new approach to working that is set to change the face of employment in our Co-op. Amp (short for amplify) gives our 22,000 employees around the world the chance to spend up to a third of their time on projects outside their day jobs across areas where they have a special interest or particular skill. It’s believed to be the first of its kind in New Zealand.

Amp is about flexibility and giving our people the chance to grow their careers – regardless of where they work, how they work or what stage of their career they’re at. Employees can work on a project outside their role for a few hours, days or even weeks, helping to develop their skills and networks.

And it’s working. Early results are already showing that amp is bringing in fresh ideas from a broader range of people. Its lifting employee engagement, opening doors and helping people embark on new career paths.

It’s an example of how the gig economy can work for both employers and employees.


The second trend is the changing face of the workforce.

Never before have organisations had three, or even four generations, working together like we do today. These overlapping generations are making the workforce more diverse.

An ageing population is bringing with it an ageing workforce. At the same time, Millennial and Gen Z digital natives are entering the workforce with new expectations and orientations. Not to mention diverse cultures, genders, abilities, sexualities and more.

Building an inclusive culture is key.

That’s why we have a Diversity and Inclusion Policy, created the role of Diversity and Inclusion Manager and set aspirational diversity targets.

A big part of attracting a diverse workforce is cultivating an inclusive, collaborative culture. We’re well on our way to adopting a way of working that appeals to employees of all types and stripes, but recognise there is more work to be done.


The final change is technology itself.

Every day there is a new story of how a latest technology is changing the way we live, work or play. Like advanced analytics, where sophisticated tools allow us to analyse data to a precise point where we can predict trends and outcomes. Or software bots that perform automated tasks, like answering customer queries.

We’re embracing these technologies at Fonterra. We’ve set up Communities of Expertise in areas like Advanced Analytics, Robotic Process Automation and we’re also working to be future-ready through strategic workforce planning.

We’ve been prioritising six capabilities at Fonterra that we build through innovative learning and development programmes, platforms and tools.

There is a growing number of people who don’t imagine their career following a traditional path. These trends require flexibility and pushback on traditional work hours.

This isn’t about some ‘far future’ of work – change is already happening, and accelerating.

No one can accurately predict the future of work, but we can prepare for it.

The lesson for leaders is to invest in innovations and build people’s capabilities to help ensure we’re all well prepared for the ever-evolving nature of work.