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Preparing yourself for the workplace of the future
Employee expectations have shifted throughout the years with flexibility and variety in their role as well as autonomy ranking high on the list. However, not all workplaces have caught up with this trend and may have to rethink their practices to attract top talent and retain high performers. Greg Tadman, Regional Human Resources Director, Michael Page tells us how workplaces of the future must evolve to meet the ‘new expectation norm’ of employees.
Companies such as Google and other technology companies have largely rewritten the rulebook on workplace environments so as to create a productive and rewarding environment. There are simple things that companies can focus on to foster high engagement, such as through adopting a more proactive and flexible approach to employment and the workplace.
Being flexible and embracing mobile
The last ten years have been dominated by a need for greater workplace flexibility as the way to drive higher engagement. Workplace flexibility holds the allure of enhanced employee performance and productivity and leads to benefits such as better client service and improved time management. By integrating flexible work arrangements, top talent can be retained as flexibility becomes a highly considered factor for candidates choosing one job over another.
Whilst some industries lend themselves more readily to the concept of flexibility, savvy business leaders across all industries should aim to embrace these shifts, be more creative in how they structure roles and business operations in order to reap the rewards of employee loyalty and engagement. Businesses should also consider how the use of technology can support flexible working arrangements to ensure productivity continues to trend upwards, especially considering the widespread perception that flexible working can negatively impact productivity.
With the abundance of electronic devices and their rapid transformation on our lives, devices will have more intelligent predictive capabilities and will extensively change the way communication happens. The email medium will evolve quickly to accommodate more real-time interaction and time-sensitive challenges for teams working across locations. Access to technologies such as cloud-based systems, wholesale integration of devices, Skype social media and other platforms that directly enable flexibility have never been greater and businesses should examine whether they are making the most of the opportunities these technologies provide.
Many organisations fall short when connecting the dots between technology and flexibility and fail to deliver meaningful experiences to their people. Those that invest in delivering quality hardware and software as well as develop and manage relationships across borders and distances will be well positioned to implement workplace flexibility with little disruption.
Workplaces of the future
Virtual workforces such as those at Microsoft and Thomson Reuters have long been established practices. Virtual workforces reflect the fluid and volatile nature of today’s work. It indicates a heightened change in how we work and presents new challenges regardless of the profession.
The autonomy and freedom that comes with virtual workspaces can and often does encourage increased productivity. Additionally, businesses are starting to consider how workplace design affects co-worker interaction and decision making, and are taking this into account when discussing office fit-outs and design. Businesses are embracing the use of casual spaces to reinforce innovation and promote sustainability.
The principle of ‘hot desking’ as a way of keeping fluidity in the workforce has long been established. Organisations are increasingly invest in co-working and recreation spaces which often feature space-age relaxation pods, couches, games and cafes, of which are all Wi-Fi enabled. These spaces are generally well used and help encourage creativity, team rapport and increased output by improving engagement. Organisations can monitor any increase in output or uptick in engagement scores to gauge the value of these efforts. Equally, engendering a culture of trust amongst employees and managers must sit alongside flexible working options and creative workplace spaces to discourage any misuse of these benefits.
Connectedness and wellbeing
Gen Y and millennials value connectedness and collaboration, having been shaped by a world where relationships and communication are increasingly moving online. Forward-thinking businesses will use technology to foster improved collaboration across cultures and teams and provide the necessary environments to support this.
Given the emergence of a generation that are health-conscious, adaptable and focused on ethical and values based systems, businesses should consider both health and well-being initiatives as part of their rewards strategy, including the office environment.
Having a variety and depth of experience
As organisations continue to streamline, employers will increasingly value workers with a variety and depth of experience over those with narrow concentrations. Employees will need to enrol themselves in programmes that encourage innovation to be more prepared for changes that are both conventional and radical. Areas such as project management skills and skilful handling of stakeholders remain high on the priority list of many businesses and these will become more critical as the traditional workplace evaporates and employees increasingly self-manage. Cultural awareness is also vital as traditional geographic borders break down; being fluent in an Asian language is clearly highly advantageous to a career in Asia.
Managers should start preparing for the workplace of the future now in order to meet evolving employee expectations and remain competitive:
- Begin mapping new processes that speak to the shifts in the way we work
- Embrace alternative working styles, such as mobile and flexible working
- Invest in helping their employees develop higher quality idea generation, innovative solutions and more multi-disciplinary thinking across businesses.