As we kick off a new year, I found myself wondering about what 2016 holds for the world of work. It got me thinking about what I’ve read, heard, and experienced throughout 2015 and how 2016 could continue to not only evolve, but push the boundaries of possibility. Many people are discussing trends and predictions, however, I wanted to take a different angle and present my own personal hopes for where we could be going to not only evolve, but transform our workplaces. As a believer of the Anticipatory Principle - what one hopes to create in the future has a significant impact on guiding one’s actions in the present - I bravely put forth my Top 6 Hopes (rather than predictions) for the world of work in 2016:
Flexibility will become the norm rather than the exception
flexibility is no longer a perk, rather a demand from the workforce. Gone are the days of traditional work hours and static work locations. Globalisation and technology will only continue to increase so employers will need to fundamentally rethink their strategy around flexible working, and this needs to be fully supported and enabled by the company culture, leadership style, and tools and technology. The blurring of personal and professional lives will continue, increasing the demand for more flexibility to manage the integration, rather than the balance, of the two. If your company’s been putting off thinking about this big, scary topic, 2016 is your time to tackle it head on.
Less policies, more freedom
With an emphasis on flexibility as the new norm, more and more companies are and will continue to take a progressive stance to move away from traditional policies and rule-based cultures. Unlimited vacation days, non-standardised working hours, eliminating the performance management process in favor of year round, informal feedback and coaching, and flexible working arrangements that work for individual needs will enable increased freedom of choice. This freedom of choice will also increase the need for employees to demonstrate more personal accountabiilty and intention to define and voice their needs while still achieving outcomes. Mutual trust will become a key attribute in fully embracing this freedom and creating a fluidity to the way we lead our lives.
Collectivism over individualism
The conversation topic of “collaboration” will continue to heat up. A shift in our typical individualistic way of working will occur to make room for the collective whole. Cultures will shift to establish and evaluate against team goals, celebrate and reward team accomplishments, and create team-based coaching processes. Traditional hierarchy will be challenged even in the most bureaucratic organisations, and collectivism will blur the lines of organisational structure and make functions or departments irrelevant. Rather, organisations will focus on people’s knowledge and skills to bring together the most effective teams to create new possibilities.
Focus on inclusion
Enabling the workforce will rely not only on diversity, as it has in the past, but more importantly will shift focus towards inclusion. For the first time, the workforce will be welcoming Gen Z’ers into the workplace. Their way of working is even more agile than Gen Y so employers will be challenged to meet the needs of 4 generations in the workforce while taking measures to not alienate any single generation. Creating a workplace culture that enables flexibility and collectivism while also balancing the strengths and preferences of 4 different generations will present a major challenge, which means companies need to support workers used to more traditional ways of working through this change by providing everyone with the competence and confidence to thrive.
The workplace will become a true strategic enabler
Let’s face it - real estate has typically been seen as a business cost. However, the conversation has been and should continue to shift away reducing real estate costs towards increasing brand equity through the workplace. After all, the workplace can serve as an enabler of a company’s strategy, a talent attractor, and a key differentiator from competitors. To enable this shift, real estate and properties professionals need to challenge their own paradigms and upgrade their skills to be able to influence business leaders and fellow peers around how a workplace strategy can be a critical link to the business’s strategy.
Inviting the outside in
Workplaces and employers will open their office doors to the outside. This means inviting strategic partners, potential partners and customers, and existing customers inside their homes to collaborate in ways that never existed before. Traditional ways of thinking around confidentiality and collaboration will be challenged, as partners and customers can provide key input into the design of new or improved products and services. The traditional “firewall” between the outside and inside will become irrelevant to the ultimate outcome - creating more value for customers.
So how will you tackle these challenges in 2016? If any of this has stirred your thoughts, please get in contact. The world of work is never without challenges, however, as Goethe once said, "Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."