Since the sixties, the traditional way of living has changed. The frivolous Dolly Parton song ‘From nine to five’, is no longer applicable to current workplace environments. Having time off in the evening and weekends is also not that obvious. By 2020 50% of the workforce will be millennials. They want to work, shop, sleep or relax randomly, which requires a more individual approach in the offered scale of options. With that said, how do we manage across generations and how does mobility play a role in the flexibility of the future workplace?
The places we work at have changed the last few decades, but we are far long from stagnating that change. People are more and more looking for ways to improve the quality of life and in addition to improve life-work balance. Current internet, devices, new technologies and business approaches allow us to completely re-organise revenue models. But if we do want to move forward to this improved way of working, we need to facilitate that on all levels. This also means, as we need to be more conscious about the environment and human well-being, the required standards for our work areas will be raised substantially by developing buildings that are far more sustainable than the buildings we work in today. A great example is the upcoming new head office of ING in Amsterdam, which aims for its construction to comply with the highest sustainability requirements. Materials, health, waste and energy consumption will all be high on their priority list.
Collaboration and communication are key for flexibility
A research on the C-suite perspectives on the future of work carried out by Deloitte showed that a large part of the interviewed senior managers thinks that communication, collaboration, and connectivity are the key drivers of the major changes in the future of work.
Because of the internet, people are for example able to work at home, at co-working spaces or even in the train or standing in line. To do this effectively and efficiently they do need proper digital tools and outstanding connectivity in order to keep up flawless collaboration and communication.
This research on workplace mobility describes that changing the way we work – with the need to be more flexible and mobile – is even vital to businesses’ success. One of the things that outstand all flexibility options is telecommuting. Remote working on flexible hours can be convenient in many ways, whether you’re a parent, travel a lot for work, or want to work with people across the world. Also it seems that remote working can increase productivity and efficiency. The CITO research shows that employee mobility seems to lead to 30% better processes and 23% more productivity. But maybe more important: it increases employee satisfaction up to 100%.
Furthermore, Stanford University explained in a research on working from home how offering remote work options reduced employee turnover. Secondly, it had a great influence on workplace health, reflecting on the job attrition rates that fell by over 50 percent.
And we all know: Happy employees bring happy results!
Mobile workforce strategy
So, let’s all throw in a mass of mobile phones and tablets and head off? Not really. Although you do need the devices to facilitate people to work flexible, the future of work requires a strategy that is incorporated on all levels and in all layers of the organisation. To get back at the research of Deloitte, we will shift from hierarchical organisation with clear lines between industries to a more blurred situation in which organisations consist out of a web with structures, cultures, time zones and languages. That demands an infrastructure and culture that can support a devices strategy that considers all aspects of working flexible, though efficiently. Just a simple example: how will you deal with things as bring-you-own-device (BYOD)? Or will you be implementing a choose-your-own-device (CYOD) strategy?
In addition to that efficiency, it’s also necessary to broaden our scope when it comes to the compilation of our workforce. In this perspective, automation will have a huge role. In a recent post on robotic process automation I already mentioned the important need-to-knows on this subject. Organisations need to be aware of the urgency of integrating this in the workplace mobility strategy.
Don’t forget culture
Choices you make here depend greatly on the organisation culture. You need a culture that can support mobility and freedom in such high degree. The workforce strategy of the future demands a cultural approach that requires more efficient processes, particularly different decision-making structures and carefully selected tools.
This all means we need to re-consider how we design jobs, how we create an ecosystem that has the ability to constantly move along with change. How can we mould work into something that makes us constantly adapt and learn? Getting the answer to this question will ensure the future of work will be one that is focussed on growth.
Will the answer be the same for every organisation? Absolutely not!