As technology continues to impact nearly every aspect of our lives, we are seeing a dramatic shift in workplace dynamics, accompanied by a necessary shift in focus on the matters of internal organization.
The “workplace experience” is becoming increasingly digital and virtual, further enhancing the importance of company culture and internal communication as the glue that binds individual professionals into productive teams.
In the following lines, we will focus on some of the dominant trends in the contemporary workplace and how they impact the way teams and organizations communicate.
This is not so much a prediction of the future as much as an acknowledgment of the present: working remotely is already having a major impact on how organizations function and this trend is only going to grow bigger in the coming years.
Various technological advances, such as cloud technology and communication tools, continue to reduce the need for traditional shared office space. The absence of immediate eye to eye contact between employees working in teams places an even greater emphasis on organized and structured communication.
With an abundance of communication channels utilized and an overwhelming amount of written communication generated on a daily basis, moderating this body of information and filtering the essential from the trivial becomes a grueling, yet necessary task.
This challenge requires effective tools: email is already causing as many communication problems as it is trying to solve; chat tools are excellent for immediate, real-time situations, but not for tidy and coherent team-level communication.
Companies will need tools capable of organizing information in a convenient, logical, and collaborative manner.
The shift towards virtual workplaces will continue to enhance the importance of effective, multi-purpose communication platforms that enable different relevant processes - such as onboarding, knowledge transfer, task management, employee engagement, etc. Quality organization of internal company communication will largely determine the success of tomorrow’s businesses.
The growing need for highly specialized skill sets will continue to shift the scale of power in the direction of the employee. Where in some previous times the safety of a stable workplace would have been preferred to the uncertainty of the free market, today’s transparency of demand affords trained professionals greater freedom of choice.
Presented with options, many professionals prefer the independence and the freedom to choose what they want to do at their own pace. In the near future, we will see more workers become independent contractors. This will place an even greater responsibility on companies to attract and retain talents.
Many businesses have already made work flexibility a part of their repertoire, allowing employees flexible work hours, remote work options, and other benefits designed to improve work-life balance.
The shift towards flexibility presents additional challenges for internal organization, increasing the importance of quality communication. Moving away from the rigid 9-to-5 framework also requires organizations to find different ways to quantify, measure and evaluate individual contributions, placing the focus on outcomes and objectives rather than on any fixed measures of output.
Achieving flexibility may slow the increasing turnover in organizations, but it won’t stop it. Aside from providing various benefits, companies will have to look for ways to engage and involve their employees. Instilling a sense of ownership for the company’s work among individual employees will become crucial to retaining them.
Automation is not a modern-day phenomenon. Numerous technological advances in the past years, decades, and centuries, were eventually utilized in the working process, replacing human labor and changing the working landscape forever.
The advances in AI are already impacting work, and as the technology becomes even smarter its influence will grow in ways that we can only partially predict. Machines are becoming more and more adept at replicating more complex human operations. We are already seeing chat bots used for automated reporting and task management, among other things.
In the near future, we will see more automation in the workplace. This will affect the workforce of tomorrow in a number of different ways. Perhaps most importantly, it will place a greater focus on creative and collaborative work that requires outside-the-box thinking.
The physical office spaces will shift even further towards open spaces and other models of collaborative environments, while the virtual workplace will be even more dependant on quality teamwork.
The important thing to keep in mind is that automation is always met with a degree of resistance from the workforce. The fear of being replaced by a machine is a natural human reaction, and communication is paramount whenever automation is introduced into work processes.
Companies will need to clearly communicate what they intend to do, how it will affect the employees and improve their working conditions and their overall output. In order to implement drastic changes with everyone on board, the companies will need to be transparent and inclusive.
Technology is impacting work on a daily basis, bringing about unpredictable and often unforeseen changes. At the ever-increasing rate of technological progress, there is no way of telling precisely how the workplace of tomorrow will look. Companies will need to be ready to adapt and change on the fly. The degree to which organizations are able to communicate the coming changes will greatly determine their success. For this, they will need flexible and adaptive tools that can answer the demands of an unpredictable future.