How to prepare for the workplace of the future

By 2020, five generations of employees will be working together, with millennials constituting a major percentage—and each generation will have different expectations for the workplace. Organizations can expect to see changes across three dimensions:

  1. Increasing globalization
  2. Contingent workers and freelancers working together
  3. Growing partner ecosystems that drive collaboration and knowledge sharing

New employee expectations

As these changes emerge, they’re raising the expectations of both employees and organizations. Every employee expects the company to understand her unique needs and cater to her in a personalized way. Today’s workers share a common set of needs: They want the flexibility to do their jobs from anywhere at any time using any device; access to the right content at the right time, with a strong foundation of social collaboration; and learning opportunities for career growth. In addition, they want to be part of the organization’s decision-making process.

Information as currency

Research firm IDC estimates that the average worker spends 15–30% of his time looking for information. If access to information were sped up by 30%, employees could see up to a 9% improvement in potential productivity. Enterprises have their work cut out for them—information is going to be the new currency for employees. As a result, companies need to expand inclusivity and access by connecting distributed employees and partners more effectively; engage the workforce through social, personalized, consistent experiences; focus on workforce health and safety; foster improved productivity through simplified, seamless exchanges of information; and create a culture of innovation and learning.

Overcoming challenges

Enterprise applications are the technology backbone of present-day organizations, but they’ve already fallen far behind consumer apps by offering an inconsistent, clunky user experience, as well as limited access that fosters limited collaboration. Designed for communication that travels in only one direction—from the top of the organization on down—these apps lead to low employee engagement and satisfaction.

Collaboration technologies

Evolving collaboration technologies address a range of concerns, including file sharing, workflow, content search, integration, IM, smart apps, conversation apps, analytics and email. To cater to a distributed workforce, companies must combine different technologies to achieve the right blend for the particular needs of their workforces. This blend should include a personalized user experience, from UX at the front end to analytics at the back end.

For example, an employer might offer a digital training platform tailored to a worker’s individual development plan, including curated content focusing on the skills needed for that specific role. Advances in search and API technologies enable seamless interoperability, meaning the right content and apps can be stitched together to maximize the program’s usefulness for each employee.

The cloud and mobile-enabled distribution

Cloud computing has empowered the distributed workforce. This combination of smart mobile phones and connected devices means complex computing is possible anywhere at any time, so the organization and its workforce can connect at will.

At the same time, apps are getting smarter every day. Developers have started to leverage the intelligent features of mobile phones to create powerful user experiences. For example, an organization can use location and calendar information to build an application that helps employees navigate to the closest available conference room.

Social media and messaging apps

According to SuccessFactors, “Social media will connect employers, customers and partners for immediate communication” by 2020. Not only does this technology help democratize organizations, but it also helps deliver a more consistent experience. Even bigger than social networks? The logical next step: messaging apps. Technology research firm Gartner, estimates half of team communication and coordination by 2018 will occur via collaboration apps. Technology giants including Microsoft and Cisco, and newcomers such as Slack, Convo and TeleMessage are offering secure and easy to use collaborative tools that will be widely adopted within the workplace.

In an upcoming article, we’ll talk about different personas, their needs and initiatives by employers to address them. In the meantime, find out how Mindtree uses people analytics to help organizations optimize the recruiting and hiring process.