The five biggest changes we’re about to see in the workplace

The year 2025 might seem a long way off, but the sheer scale of workplace transformation we’re going to see between now and then means you need to start preparing right now if you don’t want to be left behind in future.

That’s why we’ve released a new whitepaper called Workplace 2025, designed to offer guidance and practical steps you can take to ensure your business sees long-term success.

In this article I’m going to explain the five major developments we’ll see in the coming years, and the building blocks you need to put in place now to ensure you’re ready for what’s ahead.

Those five developments are:

  1. The lifestyle workplace (social change)
  2. The intelligent workplace (technological change)
  3. The low-impact workplace (environmental change)
  4. The boundary-less workplace (business and industry change)
  5. The cross-generational workplace (demographic change)

Let’s go into each of those in more detail…

1. The lifestyle workplace

For years we took the nine-to-five office job as a given. You go to work, do your hours, go home again. Five days a week like clockwork.

By 2025 this concept will have faded into history, as will the idea of spending your whole life in the same profession.

The stability workers once sought will be replaced by flexibility, with more people opting for freelance contracts than ever before. No longer will people be bound to one company or even one geographical location.

The physical nature of the office will change too, to favor health and wellness, while wearable technology will help employees manage workloads and stress levels.

Most importantly, however, the employee experience will become the benchmark of a successful workplace.

More holistic in approach than the user experience we talk about today, the aim will be to achieve an integrated view of everything that impacts an employee’s working life – from onboarding and training to performance and wellness.

2. The intelligent workplace

Of course, many (if not most) of the changes we’ll see in the workplace by 2025 will be driven by technology. Or at least enabled by it. Soon technology will be embedded into every aspect of our working lives.

We’ll see artificial intelligence (AI)-powered automation completely reshape the way we do business. Certain human roles will become less necessary, while many new ones will be created.

Intelligent assistants will do the painful jobs so we don’t have to. And with less time spent on arduous admin tasks, the majority of us will be free to focus on bigger and better thinking.

And through advancements in AI and biometric technology, cybersecurity will evolve to the point where it becomes non-intrusive – authenticating our movements at every stage of our working day without us even knowing it’s happening.

3. The low-impact workplace

These advances in workplace technology will impact something bigger than ourselves, of course: the state of our planet’s environment.

There will be little need to be in a specific location to collaborate and be productive. Virtual meetings will replace face-to-face ones, and tools like virtual reality will help keep communication engaging.

With fewer people commuting to the office as a result (and certainly not at the same time), the workforce’s overall carbon footprint will dramatically reduce.

Couple that with smart buildings helping companies use energy more efficiently and you can see what a huge impact workplace technology will have on the wider environment.

4. The boundary-less workplace

The days of companies operating in isolation are already on their way out. By 2025 they will be long gone.

In future we’ll see much more open collaboration across industries. Brands will increasingly look beyond their own walls in order to innovate, perhaps even co-creating with those they once called competitors.

We’ll see much more of a global talent pool, with firms reaching across the world to crowdsource skills they need, regardless of location.

Frankly, most companies simply won’t exist in their current form by 2025. To survive, a much more fluid approach to business will be necessary.

5. The cross-generational workplace

Finally, the demographic makeup of the workforce will evolve beyond recognition by 2025. Never will so many generations have been in one workplace simultaneously.

Generations Y and Z will be more prevalent, and corporate culture will transform around their needs and working styles.

But on the other end of the scale, a large number people will be working into their late 60s or even 70s, and companies are going to have to find a way to meet the needs of younger workers without alienating these older employees.

Technology like augmented reality will help the older generation transfer their skills and knowledge to younger colleagues without the need to be in the same place.

Putting the building blocks in place

As I hope you’ll agree after reading the above, it’s an incredibly exciting time to be in this space. The workplace is transforming in ways we couldn’t previously have imagined, and the opportunities for improved productivity and efficiency are virtually limitless.

But there are risks here, too, for those organisations that don’t adapt quickly enough.

To avoid being one of them, there are five essential building blocks you need to start putting in place today:

  1. Employee freedom: blurring the line between the enterprise employee and consumer, or removing it altogether.
  2. Compliancy without revoking freedom: a few years ago corporates were banning Facebook; now they’re encouraging its use. You need to find the balance between remaining compliant and providing freedom and flexibility.
  3. Intelligent use of data: you need to capture every piece of data out there and then tie the whole map together to make sense of it.
  4. Harnessing wearables: wearable technology in the workplace is about to go mainstream. You need to work out what it means for your business and how to get the most out of it.
  5. Deskilling: I also call this ‘knowledge acquisition’ or ‘transparent knowledge acquisition’, i.e. you may not know you’re giving away knowledge, but you are. This is going to become hugely important as the workplace structure and demographic evolves.

None of us can truly know exactly what lies ahead, but if you follow the above steps you’ll at least be in a better position to face whatever is coming. To not only survive this transformation, but thrive in it.

And there are risks in not preparing of course.

You don’t want to be the company that ends up acquiring too much traditional talent at a time when a new approach is needed. And you certainly don’t want to adopt too little data and drop behind in terms of the insights you’re able to derive, or falling foul of new regulations because you haven’t adapted your security strategy in time.

2025 is almost a decade away, but you really do need to be thinking that far ahead. And believe me: any action you take now is going to be much less costly and disruptive than inaction will be in the long run.

Keep your eyes on this blog in the coming months as we explore all these issues in much greater detail, and please do share your own thoughts, fears and experiences with us.

Download the Workplace 2025 White Paper  for much more insight.

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