Article: What will the workplace look like in 2030?


What will the workplace look like in 2030?

In this story, People Matters explores how talent management and the workplace will evolve in the next 20 years and how businesses can take advantage of the new paradigm
What will the workplace look like in 2030?

This story isn't so much aboutpredicting the future, as it isabout imagining the countlesspossibilities


As businesses move towards amore interdependent model,the company walls are fastgetting fuzzy and this demandsa fresh look at managing talent


Valve, a US based video gaming company, claims its profitability per employee is higher than Google, Amazon, or Microsoft. At Valve, there are no managers; every person chooses the work they want to get involved with. They called it the “fearless adventure in knowing what to do when no one’s there telling you what to do.” The responsibility is on the individual. And at Valve, failure is celebrated and so there is no excuse for not trying something new and amazing.

This story isn’t so much about predicting the future, as it is about imagining the countless possibilities.

Demographics, globalization, technology, democratization of information, are the most discussed drivers for the changing workplace. Recurring themes since the early eighties have been - intergenerational workplaces, enculturation, capturing the knowledge of previous generations, succession planning and segmentation, but in the current context all these are intensifying and increasingly conflicting with the traditional way of managing talent.

For employers, the challenges lie in managing virtually the increasingly diverse and tech-savvy workforce, building a new approach to talent management and creating agility in the workplace.

The tectonic shifts

In the current context, economic & business changes, globalization, talent shortage & changing demography and technological advancement, are the tectonic plates that are shaping the workplace. Like the movement of plates causes the formation and break-up of continents over time, economical changes, globalization, demographics, and adoption of technology is reshaping the workplace.

Economics of business

The knowledge economy that the world is converging towards has changed the way companies are valued. In the yesteryears, a company’s valuation was by book value; today, the valuation is instead tied to its market value, which is largely influenced by the intangibles in the company. Companies are being valued for their ideas, intellectual property, patents, – all of which are driven by their talent. A 2009 Deloitte Study showed that the weightage of intangibles in market valuation has crossed the 80 percent mark. Talent is the driver for intangibles and this puts talent management at the center stage.

Further, talent is no longer restricted to employees alone. The emergence of the contingent workforce has led organizations to create semi-permeable boundaries to allow exchange and sharing of ideas beyond the traditional employee pool. A recent study conducted on the recruitment industry by Ernst & Young and Executive Recruiters Association (ERA) estimated the temporary staffing market in India close to Rs. 17,200 crore. The report states that while temporary staffing is not as big in India as it is in the western countries, it is likely to account for 2.5 to 3% of the country’s total workforce in the near future. Companies are also looking at value creation through business collaboration with their partners, alumni, public and customers. As businesses move towards a more interdependent model, the company walls are fast getting fuzzy and this demands a fresh look at managing talent.

Globalization and talent shortage

Globalization as a concept is not restricted to doing business across geographies. The prevailing talent shortage has extended its meaning to include talent mobility at the global level. Millennials are experiencing global opportunities earlier in their careers, and by 2020 experts forecast that there will be a migration of talent to BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China). There will also be talent movement from emerging economies to established economies, driven by the ageing population in the latter. However, a McKinsey report states that 87 out of every 100 graduates are not hire-able for reasons such as lack of skills, culture fitment, inconsistencies in education, and domestic competition. Talent mobility and greater diversity also presents challenges in the workplace including team cohesion, short-term performance, communication, and culture-fit. Thus, talent management professionals will have to address these issues at the macro and micro level.

The technological opportunity

Increasing in-roads of technology into the workplace will continue to change how people engage and collaborate with their colleagues. The millennial talent lives and sleeps on mobile and they already form 50 percent of the workforce today. The access to mobile technology will increase and working will no longer be restricted to the office space. Companies will change the way they operate to adapt to this new work-style.

Talent management 2030

At a macro level, the biggest implication of these tectonic shifts is that talent professionals will increasingly own the full talent ecosystem and advise on talent decisions at strategic and tactical levels alike. This will have two main implications; on the one hand, the scope of talent management will expand tremendously, not only to strategize and manage talent inside the company, but also contingent talent, global candidate pools and alumni; and on the other hand, the responsibility of managing this talent ecosystem will go beyond the HR function to encompass line managers and other support functions internally, and also, candidates, vendors and education providers, externally.

Local companies will be competing for talent globally and they will need to guard their talent pools not only from their local competition but also from companies with a global footprint. This reality opens new possibilities too; working more intensively in virtual teams across the world and rising to non-standard employment relationships, such as part-time work, flexi-time, temporary work, telecommuting, job sharing, non-traditional shifts, seasonal employment, on-call work, and ageless internships. These possibilities will necessitate talent professionals to focus on diversity and inclusion, and new ways to engage with the workforce and manage their productivity.

Finally, there will be a shift in the way talent is defined. The definition of role requirement and the matching technology will change to adapt to the times. Talent sourcing, will also include women who want to re-enter the workforce after their childbearing years, people with disability and alternate sexual orientation.

What will these changes mean in terms of the way companies manage people? All these factors will affect the way that talent will experience work, learn, collaborate and navigate in the organization.

Work: An extension of life

Work is becoming part of life. The concept of “work-life balance” is outdated at a time where “work-life flexibility” is more of an issue. Companies will try to create an extension of home at the workplace as people want their work-life to look more like their home and social life. Having grown up in a technologically sophisticated world, the new workforce wants to use the same productivity tools and their own devices. “Social media use is rocketing, both on home and work computers. Virtual networks are woven into the fabric of life for the new workforce. Their colleagues, friends and family meet and greet each other in virtual, personal clubs that can be easily accessed from a work station. Employees’ professional identity and projected image is becoming firmly linked with what they post about themselves,” shares Meena Surie Wilson, Sr. Faculty, Center for Creative Leadership.

To bridge the gap, organizations are introducing various platforms to allow social media, gamification and mobile applications as tools for talent management as well as introducing policies like ‘BYOD’ (bring your own device) in the workplace.

Career: A non-linear affair

The new workforce seeks variety, richness of experience and balance in life, and this often leads them to try different avenues that may not always result in conventional careers. “We no longer live in a linear world, and no one should be expected to have linear careers,” shares Dr. Tanvi Gautam, Managing Partner, Global People Tree. Companies will need to stop being suspicious of career shifts and breaks. Talent professionals will need to look beyond the resume and tap the underlying richness of experiences that people bring. At the end of the day, if Steve Jobs was to apply to your organization today, chances are your teams would ask him to explain the 7 month career break he took to stay at an ashram in search of the meaning of life. Companies need to embrace diversity, and consciously move away from penalizing those who follow the uncharted path.

Working = learning

Training departments as they are defined today will become obsolete. As training becomes part of the job, learning will be just part of work. Collaboration technologies changes the way that people learn from each other and enhances team work beyond boundaries. Organizations are creating communication platforms that suit their needs. These platforms serve additional purposes too like recognition, engagement and emotional connect. When employees wanted a simultaneous interface that enabled them to enjoy all aspects of their job at one location, it led PeopleStrong to move out of the intranet and adopt a collaboration tool approach as a solution. The new interface allows a direct connect with the employees’ LinkedIn and therefore, any R&R announcement is automatically shared with a much larger community.

The third workplace: your phone

The workplace will become more mobile, with the increasing power of mobile devices to the point that they would be replacing laptops as the main work device. Employees will be able to access their “desks” anywhere and at any time. Office being the first place of work and home office second, the ‘third place’ is anywhere one’s mobile phone is. The 9-to-6 work culture is fast shifting to working on the basis of project accountability and goal accomplishment. Talent professionals will need to support these new work styles for greater effectiveness.

Power to all

The workplace will become more democratic as information is democratized and digital record-keeping makes company information accessible to all. The democratic workplace environment thrives on accountability, transparency, choice and the decentralization of power, where employees will help shape company policy, manage projects and solve problems. This will also have implications for workplace decision making. Organizations recognize that the new generation demands a workplace where they are treated as colleagues, they command a voice in the real running of the company, they want to be a part of the shared vision, and they want to feel part of the creation of the vision and direction of the company, and be included in the decision making process. For example, some companies, like Godrej and Mahindra & Mahindra, have initiated ‘Shadow Boards’, where young high potential leaders work in ‘Shadow Boards’ to advice the main Board on running the company.

Will the winds of change touch all workplaces? The answer is NO. These trends will not be for everyone or for every organization. Not all of these trends will fit all companies’ culture or business. But experts argue that organizations that want to attract the most innovative talent and hence, drive change in the marketplace will be required to give central attention to these emerging trends.

Clearly, the “workplace 2030” comes with a new set of challenges. According to UNISYS, to harness the full power of this new wave of productivity, organizations need to modernize their IT environment. This will help manage and support these popular consumer technologies, secure critical data and assets against hackers, viruses, identity thieves, and other widespread consumer IT threats. Handling the expected increase in transaction load that these new interactive experiences will impose on the IT infrastructure will also require additional investments.

Further, from the talent management solution perspective, these trends will also need better technology solution to support how talent is spotted, matched, managed and nurtured. The new workplace empowerment will also mean that the consumer of talent solutions will no longer be HR alone but will include candidates, employees, managers and executives.

The future always seems like such a long way off. But the fact is that the future is now, so prepare your organization for all that it is bringing.

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Topics: Technology, Strategic HR, #Social Media, #Trends

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