Industry view: New face of the workplace

Published: 06 Aug 2014 By Andrew Youngson

Dolly may have sung about Working 9 to 5 at Glastonbury last month but, for many of us, the traditional office environment could soon become a thing of the past. At least that’s what our latest research, Future of Work: A Journey to 2022, is telling us.

To better understand what people really want the future of work to look like, how this could affect their career prospects and working lives  – and, crucially, the impact this could have on business  –  we surveyed over 10,000 workers and 500 global HR professionals.

We found that only 14% of UK workers want to work in a traditional office environment in the future. One in five would like to kick off the shackles of a desk, working instead in a “virtual” place where they can log on from any location or use collaborative work spaces.
And while 44% believe job security is the most important factor in a job, one in three would like to take more control of their career and what they do.  

As we analysed the data, we saw the emergence of three potential scenarios for the world of work, all with different characteristics: a Blue world, where “corporate is king”; an Orange “small is beautiful”, technological landscape; and a Green world, where business and employees shape work around social values and outside lives.
If you wonder which world of work you fit in to, why not take part in our fun quiz via http://bit.ly/PwCWorkQuiz?

But how do organisations – and our future workforce – prepare for these shifts? It’s clear that the advance of new technologies, data analytics and social networks are already making a huge impact on the way people communicate, collaborate and work.
It’s vital that employers continue to embrace this currency of social networking sites, using them as an effective tool for developing contacts, new clients and promoting their services.

With many HR professionals predicting that at least 20% of their workforce will be made up of contractors or temporary workers by 2022, adapting to future change is firmly on their agenda.
And who knows what job titles and roles will be commonplace by then – telesurgeons who operate from remote locations or robot-resources teams to manage automated technology supply and demand perhaps?  

It will be vital for organisations to embrace changes in employee working preferences and use them to their own advantage.
As a result, we could easily see the rise of organisations that have a core team that embodies the philosophy and values of the company, but the rest of the workforce is not fixed and come in and out on a project-by-project basis.
These companies will make extensive use of technology to run their businesses, co-ordinate a largely external workforce and support their relationships with third parties.

It’s also likely that growth of this vibrant, innovative and entrepreneurial middle market could provide a real challenge to big businesses as they can compete on specialism and price due to their slimmed-down business model.

In the coming years, employees will be more likely to see themselves as a member of a particular skill or professional network, rather than as part of a particular company. People will be categorised and rewarded for having specialist expertise.
Project-related bonuses could become more common as people have a personal stake in the organisation’s or project’s success. And could this see the emergence of an Ebay-style ratings system of past performance for contractors and partners to help them land their next contract?

The next few years will be an interesting time for big business, but one thing is clear. The decisions taken today are already creating a legacy for the future and are shaping how organisations will look 10 years from now.

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