We’re all familiar with the speed of technological change. We experience it as individuals – think of all the devices and apps we now have that weren’t around only a short time ago. And as business and IT leaders, we’ve seen digital transformation, the shift to the cloud, the rise of big data, Business Intelligence and the Internet of Things, all influencing the now modern workplace.
Running alongside these technological changes are major social shifts. We now have several generations in the workplace, from the baby boomers through to the start of Gen Z. With this multigenerational shift has come the rise of the remote worker, and new expectations of what a workplace should be like. These expectations are fuelled by our customer experiences and our desire to use our consumer devices for work (BYOD).
Organisations need to create a more agile modern workplace that caters for both remote and mobile working models – or risk falling behind.
In an ever-changing landscape, what are the current trends?
Six significant trends are changing the way we all work. And organisations need to respond if they want to remain competitive and attract and retain the best talent.
1. Different generations, different needs, different tools
Organisations now have several generations in the one setting. While business leaders continue to be mainly from Gen X, Gen Y is beginning to challenge for those leadership positions. We’re now seeing the arrival of Gen Z in the workplace alongside the baby boomers. These generations have different needs and expectations. They have a preference for different tools to do their best work. For example, older workers may prefer traditional email, while younger ones might collaborate via text, chat or video. An increasing number of employees will expect to work remotely – and have devices and tools to do so.
2. A mobile and remote workforce
These days, to be productive no-one needs to sit at their desk. Technology gives us the ability to work anywhere and from any device – and workers increasingly expect to be able to do this. The benefit for organisations is that remote working opens up a wider range of recruits, including freelancers and those who work in the ‘gig economy’. Remote working can offer employees a better work-life balance and flexibility. And the rise of the mobile workforce is expected to rise with global mobile workers expected to account for 42.5% of the global workforce by 2022.
However, organisations need to be aware that working remotely carries a security risk. Are employees’ devices and connections secure? Where are they storing your organisation’s data? The concept of ‘Shadow IT’ – or the unauthorised use of applications or hardware – is an increasing challenge for many organisations.
3. Doing more with less
Because technology is supposed to introduce significant efficiencies and reduce costs, business leaders today are expected to do more with a reduced budget. However, new technology can be expensive and has to be balanced with quantifiable benefits. You can’t just set and forget with new technology – there’s a critical change management element to it all.
4. Software as a Service
The shift to the cloud has triggered the rise of Software as a Service (SaaS) for key applications. Many organisations are opting for SaaS where possible. But they still have to deal with legacy applications that remain business-critical. The result is a mixed and often complex environment, meaning different paths to access different tools – not a great experience for the end-user.
5. The blurring of work and personal technologies
Employees regularly update their phones, and often use their personal device for work, whether IT is aware of this or not! This can carry security implications – how do you retain control over who has access to what and where? – as well as management complexity. What procedures do you have in place if an employee’s device gets lost or stolen?
6. Teamwork and collaboration
The Harvard Business Review estimates that collaborative work – such as meetings, phone calls, and emails – takes up 80% of our work time. Organisations need to explore different ways to make collaboration more efficient via Unified Communications such as Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. If you don’t introduce collaborative tools, employees will create their own – perhaps a WhatsApp group – adding to business and IT leaders’ lack of control and security concerns.
With so much technological change happening, no organisation can afford to sit still. Many businesses are exploring how they can best leverage new technologies to satisfy employee expectations while at the same time retaining access to some legacy solutions that might still be important.
As organisations implement mobility and agility through various means, conversations begin to shift from building a modern workplace to creating digital workspaces where employees have access to the tools they need, securely, through the one platform.
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