The future of the workplace will, to a certain extent, be shaped by the trends of today but there’s also an element of uncertainty for organisations and their people that can only be managed by strong, determined, visionary leadership and working with the right partners.
Example trends of today...
Younger people coming into the workplace, in particular, want more collective working and less orthodox structure. Non-hierarchical leadership flattens the traditional work pyramid to form a structure that has decentralised authority and fewer levels. This, of course, sounds appealing but it doesn’t work for every organisation.
Workplace flexibility along with pay and benefits are the top considerations for accepting a job offer and staying with an employer. In a 2017 survey, employees said they found flexitime most appealing (37%), followed by telecommuting and a ‘compressed work week’ (both 26%). Employers are responding to this by offering part-time hours, flexible time and telecommuting. According to a 2016 New York Times article ‘63% of employers already allow ‘‘some’’ employees to work from home on an occasional basis, according to one major study, up from only 34% as recently as 2005.
But this is only appropriate for certain jobs and may not be feasible for every organisation. If you can’t offer them flexibility, how will your organisation attract and keep the best people?
Growth of the informal ‘gig’ economy
Increasingly, organisations are moving to a blended workforce made up of gig economy workers that include consultants, contractors, freelancers, part-time employees and other contingent workers. In 2005, it was estimated that freelancers accounted for 10.1% of US employment. By 2017, this had risen to 36% and 63% freelance by choice.
Managers are going to have to develop strategies that onboard, integrate and train gig workers in a way that both fits with their mindset and benefits the organisation.
Transparency and employee power
The rising popularity of Glassdoor with its database of ‘millions of company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews and more’ has made it an extremely effective tool for forcing organisations to become more transparent, whether they like to or not.
If employers are not able to demonstrate that theirs is a caring organisation, the most sought-after applicants will look elsewhere.
Looking to the future
To fully embrace all the potential for growth and change offered by the trends influencing the future of the workplace, employers need to change and adapt now in ways that fit their unique situation.
Impact is a creative change agency that builds organisations worth working for. We’d love to talk to you about how you can create the right workplace for the future of your organisation.
Charlotte Cawthorne is a Sustainability Expert and Consultant at Impact. She's dedicated to increasing the productivity and effectiveness of teams tackling environmental and social issues.