By Amrita Mookerjee
As our “Did You Know” video states, pretty much everything in the world of work is changing. Perhaps the biggest driver of this change is rapid technological advancement. Just as our daily smartphone-enabled routines would have been unimaginable a decade or two ago, the way we work now is dramatically different, from how teams interact globally to how companies plan for jobs and skills that may not even exist yet.
Typically, the workplace changes every 10 years, while the workforce changes every 5 years. Organizations should have a plan in place for how their workplaces will keep up with the speed of change. As a key enabler of employee performance, the built environment is an essential, but often under-prioritized component of any organization’s business strategy.
One of the first things that you can do to find a vision for your workplace is to pay attention to industry and global trends. While it may seem more prudent to tune out the buzzwords you hear every day, patterns in the workforce, technology and real estate are often interconnected patterns that bring transformational change to the workplace. Meeting your organization’s present needs must be balanced with planning for the future.
Below is a deeper look at some of these trends:
DID YOU KNOW…
…that the definition of "employee" is being reinvented?
An unpredictable job market and shift in collective values has driven many to shed their status as traditional employees for something more fluid, either by choice or necessity. Intuit projects that by 2020, 40% of the workforce will be independent, working as freelancers and contractors. A globally distributed, independent workforce, constantly connected through technology will affect how organizations define workplace too.
Most employees do not need to physically be at the office anymore, but the way companies allocate space often doesn’t align with a highly mobile workforce. Instead of a fixed environment with a desk for each employee, consider a more varied landscape that accommodates expansions and contractions on a daily basis, with an emphasis on the technologies and team spaces that connect people face-to-face.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that workers are willing to sacrifice money for flexibility?
Reward systems are changing, and work-life balance is the new currency. Whether this means creating HR policies that allow for increased flexibility in schedule and work location, or a stronger focus on well-being, approaches that consider employees’ needs beyond work have significant impacts on their engagement and performance when they’re at the office.
Building greater flexibility and choice into the workplace has concrete benefits – the ability to choose where you work based on the task you’re doing correlates to significantly higher engagement levels.¹ Engagement is only one aspect of employee well-being, but has the potential to impact your bottom line by more than 20%.²
DID YOU KNOW…
…that today’s eighth graders will be joining the workforce in only 8 years?
While this is always true, preparing for the next wave of Gen-Z employees may seem especially daunting, given their status as digital natives and the negative stereotypes that come with their age bracket. The assumption that Gen-Z workers are communication-challenged and disloyal with short attention spans is not only untrue, but counterproductive to an organization’s success. All employees, regardless of age, can and should learn from each other. The changing workforce is inevitable, and the next generation’s unique skills are essential in the quest to stay competitive.
As a physical reflection - and often first impression - of your company, your workplace is a valuable tool in making employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and engaging in the company’s culture. By providing a range of informal and formal knowledge-sharing spaces, paired with a culture that encourages conversation and accessibility, employees will have the opportunity to exchange ideas during both scheduled meetings and casual interactions.
Just as there is no one-size-fits-all workplace, the way each organization addresses external trends is unique to its internal needs and pressures. Are you creating a vision that aligns with your mission and business goals?
As a Workplace Strategist, Amrita strategically assists clients in aligning their vision with the real estate and workplace decisions necessary to achieve their immediate and long-term business objectives. She actively collaborates with clients to establish and review their current workplace conditions as well as engage in workshops, interviews, focus groups, and surveys to understand their future growth plans, corporate culture, and key business drivers.
1. Steelcase, Engagement and the Global Workplace: Key Findings to Amplify the Performance of People, Teams and Organizations. Steelcase 360 Magazine, 2016.
2. Lister, K., What’s Good for People? Moving from Wellness to Wellbeing. Knoll Workplace Research, 2015.