How Is the Workplace Really Changing?

Trends in the workplaceEarlier this week, I was going through the various online news outlets that I subscribe to when one item caught my eye. Business & Leadership reported that in a survey commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Vanson Bourne three-quarters of the Irish businesses surveyed are open to a flexible workplace. This seems to be reflected in employees’ desires to telecommute.

But it’s more than just telecommuting

In the workplace, there are mutiple generations, the effects of the greater global recovering economy and rapid changes in technology both creating obstacles and opportunities. In Sodexo’s 2012 Workplace Trends Report, they listed the top 10 workplace trends discovered in their research.

1. Integration of workplace solutions: creating higher value

2. Workplaces that promote sustainability

3. Inclusive workplaces

4. Rewards and recognitions

5. Virtual workforces

6. The built environment as driver of employee engagement

7. Evidenced-based Space Design

8. Quantifiable employee health and wellness initiatives

9. Psychological health in the workplace

10. Flexible workplaces

Is there a quiet revolution happening or are the companies surveyed outliers?

Since the most basic element of a business is to meet the business goals, it is interesting to see how various companies get the work done. There is an interesting example on by Helen Cousins (@excelbusiness) of how one UK accountancy firm found a way to keep a valued employee by creating the means for her to work virtually from Ireland. Other companies are trying to find ways to integrate the push for more work/life balance. Sodexo notes in their report

We forsee a new business formula for success which includes integrating workplace + work style + life-style needs of the organization and its human capital, resulting in full engagement and maximized productivity.

Sounds good but…

With the ability to work from anywhere, many employees, particularly executives, are feeling like they can never unplug from the office. Mobile technology might be a great tool that enables flexibility to get work done from anywhere but it also can act like a ball and chain. And then there is the technology learning curve. As was noted in the Business and Leadership article, many Irish firms lack the technology to allow for their employees to work from alternative sites. How typical is this overall?

There is also a mindset that has to change to allow these trends to be norms. There is still a push for face-time on a daily basis at  many large and small companies. Is it simply that managers believe they must babysit their employees to get the work done?With a tight job market, it is possible that employees feel apprehensive requesting or even demanding a work environment that actually treats them as thinking, feeling and responsible adults. A friend of mine recently told me about his new job. He was totally astounded when his new manager told him to get whatever resources he needed, including hiring an assistant. His previous employer often denied even basic requests that would help complete tasks.

So what’s really happening?

It’s an exciting time of change, no doubt. With people becoming more aware that they don’t have to do the 9-5 (or 6 or 7 or…) thing in a office or cubicle and cram the rest of their lives into the remaining hours, employers will have to respond. Perhaps the Results-Only-Work Environment (ROWE) will gain momentum. Perhaps we’ll see the workplace as somewhere we enjoy spending our time because we feel valued and competent. Sure, we’ll have to figure out how to create face-time because live person-to-person contact is necessary for rapport building. On the other hand, we may make other connections in cafes, parks, online or at home that promote our creativity and productivity. The ways the workplace is morphing may be a slow revolution but there is movement.

Join us on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz this Friday at 4pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT to take a look at these workplace trends, possible causes and implications for the future.

Which trends do you see becoming every normal workplace behavior?

Is there a quiet revolution happening or are the companies surveyed outliers?

How are mainstream organizations coping with these trends?






2 thoughts on “How Is the Workplace Really Changing?

  1. Pingback: Work/Life Balance – Myth or Something Else | Kaizen Biz

  2. Pingback: Is Leadership Harder Now Than Ever? | Kaizen Biz

Comments are closed.