In our recent study with the Economist Intelligence Unit, ‘The Future of Work’, we asked senior academics and business leaders from a cross-section of industries to predict the drivers that will impact and shape our working environments over the next 10 to 15 years. Over 500 business decision makers collectively identified three key trends. These pointed to a more automated, mobile future where workforces are not confined to conventional work spaces. They also highlighted how executives must develop new management techniques to get the most out of their employees.
The key findings of the research are as follows:
Digital Dissolution of the workplace: In the next 15 years, digital technology will transform the experience of working life as we currently know it. Mobile devices and broadband Internet already allow employees to work wherever they wish and on a more flexible schedule than the regular 9-to-5. As the rollout of the Internet of Things continues, virtually every space will be appropriately equipped for mobile working. This change has the potential to have a very positive effect for organisations, including helping to foster employee creativity and improving customer service. New technologies and skills will be developed to better enable mobile working in order to take advantage of the satisfaction and productivity benefits it can afford.
Automation: The growing use and sophistication of automation will shift the emphasis of human employment towards creativity and social skills. Robotics and artificial intelligence will increasingly be used in place of humans to perform repetitive manual tasks. At the same time, the global market economy will demand businesses to foster greater skills in innovation, design and customer service in order to remain competitive. As a result, creative problem solving, constructive interaction with others and social intelligence will become the key differentiating factor for businesses.
New Management: The new reality of work outlined above will require a fundamentally different approach from management personnel. Over a third of survey respondents believe that managers will need to become more effective at nurturing and developing talent within their workforce, helping employees understand and perform their more creative and social roles. Furthermore, as a result of the trend for increasingly mobile working, the traditional boundaries that define corporations will fade. Managers must find new ways to generate a sense of shared purpose and common corporate culture without the customary reliance on regular face-to-face contact.
These three trends lay the foundations for new ways of working and the development of truly collaborative business environments, which will help to attract and retain talent going forward. No future company will consist solely of empowered, flexible creatives, just as no company will be entirely automated. But on the evidence of expert interviews and executive insight, business leaders need to decide what role their organisations will play in the coming era.
To download the full report, visit the Ricoh website.