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Reinvent the Workplace to Support a Changing Workforce

Business November 24, 2015

When practically every major analyst firm is projecting upwards of 50 percent of the workforce will be mobile in the next three to five years, they’re signaling a big change to the way we work.

Now, factor in estimates that 50 percent of the 2020 workforce will be made up of millennials.

And, for good measure, add in the prediction that by 2020 40 percent of the workforce will be freelancers.

What does this mix of disconnected, on-the-move, and hard-to-engage workers mean to the workplace? How should we rethink the way we communicate and work together?

[We published this guide on local and remote collaboration technology to help businesses and organizations prepare for the mobile workforce. Find it here.]

If you’re not headed for retirement in the next couple of years, you’re going to need to figure out how to create a work environment that support the demands of the social-savvy, texting millennial— the type who would take the freedom to hole up in a coffee shop over a raise.

The risk of sticking to traditional work practices includes lower employee engagement and limited ability to fend off digital competitors who can innovate more quickly.

Reinventing the workplace requires a shift in an organization’s culture. And that is sometimes the hardest change.

For many companies, IT has served the role of trying to anticipate the employee’s technology needs. The new workplace requires IT to look to employees as the main source of ideas generation.

According to a CEB report, The Future of Corporate IT, the role of IT needs to include finding and sharing innovations generated by employees. Employees thus become the new agents of change.

The second shift is in physical spaces. We’ve already seen a dramatic shift in conference room size, resulting in huddle rooms.

There are also shared spaces and open spaces that are designed to support flexible working arrangements. What work best may also depend on your industry.

Architectural firm Gensler suggests in their Design Forecast 2015 that, “Co-working space is on the horizon for professional services firms with creative sector clients and a Millennial workforce. Co-working can be a catalyst for inspiring and supporting the kind of spontaneous interaction that generates and speeds innovation.”

The third shift is in technologies. Technology needs to enable communication and information sharing no matter where work happens.

This means creating a communication infrastructure that enables workers to easily connect any room or device, use any platform, and access any content type—anytime they want. It means creating a truly digital work environment.

No one can predict exactly what the world of work will look like in 2020. But there is no question it is changing. Winning companies will be the ones that embrace the challenge of change and create a workplace that supports the new way we work.

If you’d like to discuss your changing workplace needs, we can help

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