The workplace is changing. And what’s more, these changes are being driven by employees as much as by organisations themselves….
Bean bags, ping pong tables, breakfast bars, TVs with rolling news. Fifty years ago, these items wouldn’t have been found in the workplace, says ISG’s UK Director, Barry Matthews, yet today they are commonplace in trendy city offices.
Just as millennials have come to expect jazzy office add-ons, they have high expectations when it comes to the rest of their experience of employment. They understand that productivity is not tied to going into the same office every day, or working between the rigid hours of 9am and 5pm.
Happily, modern innovations like the Cloud make agile working not only possible but practical and, in many cases, advantageous to businesses. Employees can now work from home, they can work remotely from cafes, or hot-desk, making the most of precious real-estate. There are so many options available to organisations who believe that agility makes for more engaged and more productive employees.
Some are taking the idea of agile working even further. A 2016 research report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) found that up to 30% of us are now employed through the gig economy. This trend shows no sign of slowing down. Freelancing is on the rise. Some only see drawbacks, but there are also exciting possibilities. A varied and diverse working week, where individuals encounter new challenges on a daily basis. Where they get to use their skills to best effect.
What’s more, our ability to automate basic administrative functions, such as time-consuming finance and HR processes, is also freeing up employee’s time to perform more highly skilled work. The applications for technology to improve our working lives are limitless.
So, what does this mean for organisations and individuals? It requires out-of-the-box thinking. It demands the right IT solutions, and a greater emphasis on collaboration, between colleagues as well as between human and robot. In fact, as automation and more advanced forms of AI become more commonplace in the workplace, it will require an even more fundamental shift.
More emphasis will need to be placed on skills in the HECI (humanity, ethics, creativity, imagination) bracket, because these abilities are human workers’ USP. The current emphasis placed on STEM in schools is important, but we must not lose sight of changing demand. In the next twenty years, relational skills will come into their own.
Millennials have known for a long time that their ability to do their job doesn’t rely on their location, or the time at which they’re doing the work. They have grown up watching the rapid technological developments of the past few decades and understand the power of technology to provide solutions to any problem they might encounter.
Organisations should learn from these employees, and be similarly open to change, driven to find new solutions to old problems, and excited to work with them to forge the workplace of the future.
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