Change is closer than you think: over the next ten years, a few key trends will rapidly transform the workplace, reshaping how companies are organized, how they operate, and how they attract and retain talent.
The first driver is demographics. The oldest of the baby boomer generation — those individuals born between 1946 and 1964 — reached retirement age in 2011. And in North America alone, a staggering 10,000 baby boomers will reach retirement age each day for the next two decades. This exodus will lead to a dramatic shift in the demographic of the workforce, which will become much more diverse — ethnically, culturally and, most importantly, generationally.
The nature of work is also changing. Over the past 20 years, companies have automated and outsourced much of their structured or process-oriented work. What work is left is unstructured, complex, and highly collaborative. Combine that with continued technical innovation — an explosion of mobile devices, coupled with the widespread availability of ubiquitous Internet access and cloud-based applications — that has redefined where and how work is being performed.
Although the fallout from these trends may seem overwhelming, the fact that they are occurring simultaneously creates a unique opportunity. With planning and investment, adapting your workplace to meet the technological demands of the future can enable your business to thrive. So what does the office of the future look like?
A broader demographic means more technical solutions, working together. Organizations will need to provide a greater variety of tools and devices to meet generational preferences, but will also need to ensure that there is functional parity, interoperability, and a consistent user experience in the services they offer.
The rise of unstructured, complex, and highly collaborative work means an end to one-size-fits-all workplace design. Organizations need to allow for the different workspace experiences that are necessary to accommodate both collaboration and concentration work functions. Without addressing these issues productivity and innovation will suffer, also resulting in employee dissatisfaction and leading to increases in employee turnover.
Technical innovation has created the expectation of being “always connected.” Securing sensitive data is a top priority, but mobile security will take an even more important role as both company-owned and employee-owned mobile devices continue to grow in the workplace.
Leaders will need to effectively marry workspace design, technology, and workplace policy, creating a workplace that is flexible, adaptable, and engaging. This journey will not be easy, there are plenty of organizational, technical, and cultural hurdles, but those who are successful will propel their companies into a new era of efficiency, innovation, and profitability.
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