DURING the past decade, the workspace has undergone dramatic change, but it pales in comparison to how new organisational structures will influence the work environment as we move towards 2020. Isla Galloway-Gaul, the managing director of Inspiration Office, an office space and furniture consultancy, said: “Our ways of working have changed as many societies become wealthier, as consumers demand new types of products and services, and as we constantly seek to increase productivity.” She said that there are four megatrends, which will have a profound impact on how we work:
- Rise of mobile knowledge workers
A knowledge worker uses research skills to define a problem, identify possible solutions, communicates that information and then works on one or several of those possible solutions. “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. “The design of the work environment must be adapted to specific work needs, as well as suit personal preferences,” said Galloway-Gaul.
- Burst of new technology
- From Generation X to Generation Y
- Globalisation and performance
For more than 30 years, IT and mobile advancements have had a profound influence on how we work and it is possible that this exponential advance will continue. A few emerging technologies are already so advanced that it is possible to gauge their future influence. For example the internet of things, a connected network of physical devices, can connect and exchange data, resulting in efficiency improvements, economic benefits and reduced human efforts. Real-time speech recognition and translation will support easier communications between different language speakers and big data will allow companies to recognise patterns and make better decisions.
Galloway-Gaul said: “Looking ahead to understand how our ways of working will change, it is necessary to understand what Generation Y need from their workplace, what their characteristics are like and how differently they see the world.” For example, millennials tend to be more family-centric, which means that they are willing to trade higher pay for a better work-life balance. Also, they are the most tech-savvy generation, which makes remote work possible, even desirable. They are achievement-oriented and frequently seek new challenges.
Globalisation affects how we work in at least two ways. “Firstly, there is a now a larger, global talent pool available, which means that talent is more geographically dispersed and culturally diverse. “As we head towards 2020, people will increasingly work with co-workers they have never met before,” she added. Secondly, globalisation increases the pressure to perform. Previously companies could produce goods and have a secure home market with limited competition. “Now many products are sold at similar or more cost-effective prices with the same or better service and innovation is copied by competitors within weeks. This puts the question of whether work or services should be outsourced to other countries on the strategic agenda,” Galloway-Gaul concluded.
Isla Galloway-Gaul is the managing director of Inspiration Office, an office space and furniture consultancy.