Speaking at a Future Decoded event in London in 2015, the CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella asserted, “Work is no longer a place you go to. Work is about making things happen where you are.”

Today his words ring true, and companies all over the world – from mega Fortune 500 corporations to small startups – are witnessing a major transformation in the workplace. Thanks to innovative and emerging technologies such as cloud computing, super-fast internet connectivity, teamwork tools, a mobile-first work environment – the employee of today isn’t tied to the workplace.

How is the Modern Workplace changing?

Studies predict that the mobile workforce will rise to 72% by 2020, and over 81% of business leaders plan to increase investments in making their workplace future-friendly in the next two years. Businesses are looking to provide employees with the ability to be productive anytime, anywhere, and from any device.

With employees belonging to four generations in the workplace – from baby boomers to Gen Z – today’s workplace has to cater to different expectations. The younger generations, especially millennials and Gen Z – are always on and consider hyper-connectivity as a routine part of their lives.

The primary criteria of this rising generation of workers are adaptability and flexibility in their work environment. The young workers of today no longer wish to be tied to a 9-to-5 job, five-days a week.

According to reports by the Work Foundation, 89% (who now occupy key management positions) of millennials prefer jobs that don’t have a traditional 9-to-5 timing, and 69% consider regular office attendance unnecessary. One in three surprisingly chooses device flexibility and social media freedom over a higher pay package.

All these factors combined make businesses adapt and transform their working spaces to meet the demands of future employees and to stay ahead of their peers.

Challenges at Current Workplaces

Millions of employees today work in open-plan offices. A recent Harvard study reports that open-plan offices reduce face-to-face interactions, and lack of private spaces in the office constrains productivity and creativity.

With today’s teams comprising multiple freelancers and global workers (who work in different time zones), managers are finding it extremely challenging to continue with traditional tools for monitoring their entire workforce.

The youth of today value remaining productive throughout the workday and don’t tolerate technological and logistical hiccups in their work routines.

Most companies now have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy at the workplace. Earlier, these devices were restricted to laptops and smart phones. Now employees use a range of Internet-connected devices at the workplace like smart watches, tablets, and other gadgets to stay connected and access work data.

Besides saving on time spent commuting to and fro from work, the current workplace has to evolve and transform to meet the challenges of the future.

The Workplaces of the Future – What to Expect?

Employees will soon become “shoulder-bag workers” carrying their entire offices in their backpack. Work technology has shrunk to the extent that it can easily fit in a backpack, and employees need no longer remain tethered to their desks.

Agile working (location-free roles) will become more prevalent as companies look to attract the best talent from anywhere in the globe.

Apart from remote workers, the workplace of the future will see the rise of full-time employees working in collaboration with freelancers. The workplace of tomorrow will include a range of spaces to accommodate different working styles and different workers like full-time employees, visiting clients, freelancers, and others.

Innovative tools like mobile-remote working software, virtual reality conferencing, and AI will play a significant role in regular, office workplace communication, connecting the entire global team digitally.

There’s little doubt that the place we traditionally define as “work” is undergoing a radical transformation. Technology has made it possible to connect the brightest minds from any corner of the world, providing limitless opportunities for innovation and collaboration.

In a nutshell, the Workplaces of the Future will morph into spaces that offer anywhere, anytime, and seamless collaboration that leverages the full potential of emerging and innovative technologies.

Sources:

  • Ed Shepley, Ainize Cidoncha, Chris Hardess, 2018, The future workplace: what it looks like, how you deliver it, and how to ensure people love it, Retrieved from: https://www.futuredecoded.com/session/2849a00d-b7ab-e811-b4b0-000d3a223eca
  • The Work Foundation, 2016, Working Anywhere -A Winning Formula for Good Work? Retrieved from https://www.citrix.com/content/dam/citrix/en_us/documents/oth/working-anywhere-a-winning-formula-for-good-work.pdf.
  • Justin Brown et.al. , 2018, Workforce of the Future, Retrieved from: https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/services/people-organisation/workforce-of-the-future/workforce-of-the-future-the-competing-forces-shaping-2030-pwc.pdf.
  • The Economist, 2018, There will be little privacy in the workplace of the future, Retrieved from:https://www.economist.com/special-report/2018/03/28/there-will-be-little-privacy-in-the-workplace-of-the-future.

Chander Sharma
Founder and Managing Partner,
BizXL Solutions

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