During the last decade, the workspace has undergone dramatic change. But this is nothing compared to how new organisational structures will impact the work environment towards 2020. Let’s look into the trends that will have the biggest impact on our ways of working.
Our ways of working have changed for many different reasons. We have become wealthier; consumers are demanding new types of products and services which in turn require new production methods; and we are constantly seeking to increase productivity which challenges how we organise our work.
Nonetheless, there are four megatrends, which go beyond the aforementioned reasons that have a profound impact on how we work: the rise of knowledge workers, the advent of IT and mobile devices, a new generation of workers – Generation X and Generation Y, and finally the demands of globalisation.
Rise of mobile knowledge workers
Knowledge workers think for a living. A knowledge worker uses research skills to define a problem, identify possible solutions, communicatie this information and then works on one or several of these possible solutions. The work conducted is non-routine and often requires a significant degree of creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
The rise of knowledge workers sets new requirements for office design. Knowledge work is flexible, and knowledge workers are far more likely than other types of workers to work from home and be more mobile. Therefore, the design of the work environment must be adapted to specific work needs as well as suit personal preferences. Especially personalisation of far more globalised workplaces makes the whole process a lot more complicated.
Burst of new technology
For more than 30 years, IT and mobile developments have had a profound influence on how we work, and research suggests that this exponential advance will continue for at least the next 15 years, generating further advances in multiple areas.
It is difficult to know what technologies may emerge and indeed what impact they will have. However, a few emerging technologies are already so advanced that it is possible to gauge their possible influence:
From Generation X to Generation Y
Generation X describes the demographic group that came after the Baby Boomers. These people were born from the early 60s to the early 80s, occupy many senior positions in society today. They have been the primary drivers of the changes in our work patterns for the last 20 years.
Generation Y, often referred to as Millennials, represent the generation that followed Generation X. Looking ahead to understand how our ways of working will change in the future, it is necessary to understand what Generation Y need from their workplace and what their characteristics are like. In general, millennials can be described as:
Globalisation and the pressure to perform
Globalisation affects how we work in at least two ways. First, it influences the availability of talent. Simply put, there is a larger talent pool available. The workforce in developing countries is becoming better qualified and to a higher extend engaged in more sophisticated service-oriented activities.
The design of jobs and working environments is greatly affected by the fact that the talent is more geographically dispersed and culturally diverse. Towards 2020, people will increasingly work with co-workers they have never met before, in unfamiliar contexts and in languages they do not master well.
The second way in which globalisation affects work is the ever-increasing pressure to perform. Before the 1980s, companies could produce goods and have a secure home market with limited competition. Now, similar products are sold at similar or cheaper prices with the same or better service, and innovation is copied by competitors within weeks. This puts a constant pressure on how work is conducted, and places outsourcing and offshoring on the strategic agenda of any corporation.
Learn more about the trends that influence our workplaces and ways of working by downloading our Whitebook: New ways of working – the workplace of the future.
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