CHANGING THE WAY WE WORK
The way we work has slowly been changing, adapting and developing over the decades. A huge contributing factor to this has been technology and the efficiency it delivers, waiting 2 minutes per fax page is a concept which is no longer remembered by the majority of the current workforce, and we will soon say the same about email. New types of technology are increasingly emerging, ones which allow you to work in more team type environments, where it is easier to collaborate and track documents, software that no longer require you to wait for that next meeting to work together.
This insight is almost obvious. As time moves on we are increasingly innovating, finding new and better solutions for working, however what we are beginning to see as more of a contributing factor to the future of work is the mindset of the future workforce. Their relationship with work and what they expect from their employers will cause just as much of a considerable shift to the workplace and the way it is used.
WHY WE WORK
Work used to be a means of achieving economic stability and buying free time, but it has become much more than that.
“Work has gained a holy status, become a religion promising identity, transcendence and community.” Derek Thomspon (The Atlantic – religion workism making americans miserable)
“Millennials are meaning junkies at work….for this generation, a job is about more than a paycheck, it’s about a purpose.” Erin Griffith (Why are young people pretending to love work, New York Times Essay)
Of course income is still important, but for them work has become a way of life, an identity and a way of communicating who they are.
With 400,000 tenants, in 27 countries and over 30% of workers making the Global Fortune 500 list, We Work cleverly tapped into this. Their office spaces were littered with bright neon signs advocating quotes such as hustle harder, join the 5am club and even had “Don’t stop when you’re tired” carved into the complimentary fruit.
Perhaps a little extreme.
It does clearly showcase millennials transformation into machines of self-optimisation.
However as we enter this new strange 2020 world, will this change? Was this changing even before covid-19 hit (hint: look at how We Work were performing in November 2019) and how will the next generation compare?
HOW THIS AFFECTS THE WORKPLACE
People are taking time out, but we aren’t facing an unmotivated society wasting away each day watching daytime TV.
People are aiming to become self-starters and entrepreneurs. Smaller agile companies and freelancing has become the modern take on the american dream, with 90.1m people being freelancers in the US by 2028.
The benefits include self employment, flexibility, freedom? But most importantly far away from the bureaucratic corporate world we once knew, and that stressful chase up the ladder.
In this world those Identity, Transcendence and Community elements that work promised is still resonant, but needs to be supported and channeled in a considered and more intelligent way. Freelance means more time alone, but also means making the most of time spent with others, facilitating meaningful connections and a human centric approach. Flexible working hours means smaller office spaces, but also means having the right workspace configuration, technology and amenities to enhance collaboration and cohesion when needed.
Some leading business owners are already advocating and instilling change:
“We have rules that you only have to be present in the office between 10:00 and 16:00, you don’t have to be physically chained to a desk to get the work done.” Ben Page, CEO of Ipsos
“People would rather work for a company with values that resonate with their own, where this is a sense of mission and purpose.” Beril Toktay, Faculty director at Atlanta’s Ray C Anderson center for sustainable business
“Flexible working is the key and my companies went permanently flexible last year. Businesses need to rethink how their workers work. It’s important for things like the environment, mental health and ensuring that we have a workforce that is fit for purpose for the 21st century.” Andrew Barnes, pioneer of the four day week and founder of estate planning firm Perpetual Guardian
We can see that the workspace of the future is not a Monday – Friday, 9 – 5 cell, with productivity propaganda scratched across the walls. It is a space which encourages collaboration, a shared sense of company purpose but most importantly becomes an essential part of your company’s ecosystem, adding business value.
The future workforce are going to expect more from their employers and workspaces, and being high achievers they will want to find a space and employer that will support them to become the best version of themselves. They will work to promote positive change, whilst taking down time to form better, more meaningful relationships and do what they love.
The future of work means improving lives, without destroying productivity. Let’s find better ways to do so.