The Changing Nature of Work – Our Future Working Environment

Glass offices

Technology, attitudes and demographics have dramatically altered our working environment over the years. A new conceptual age is upon us which requires working practices based on engagement. Information Technology research and advisory company Gartner has highlighted 10 trends that will shape our working environment in eight years time that will be discussed at a technology summit in London this September. Here are 10 trends that will dominate the workplace by 2020.

De-routinization of Work – It is expected that by the year 2020 a lot of routine work will be automated with non routine tasks such as selling of an insurance policy left for people to do.

Work Swarms – Work swarms are a new way to describe team activity that involves bursts of collective activity by any individual who is able to add value. Such teams will be ad hoc and informal in nature. The notion of a swarm is that these teams will quickly form, deal with problem and then disband.

Weak Links – Weak links are indirect indicators that rely on the confidence others have in the knowledge of people. The main feature of work swarms is that not everybody will know each other well. Instead, there will be more focus on the part of the individual to utilize their own personal, professional and social networks to develop and exploit both strong and weak links that will be used.

Working With the Collective – This is where social networking will come into its own. People will connect with other informal groups outside their organization bound by a common interest or goal to accomplish projects, and to gather market intelligence.

Work Sketch-Ups – The word ‘informal’ will increasingly define the pattern of work in eight years time. Process models for most non-routine work will be created on demand.

Spontaneous Work – Working practices will be less structured and more receptive to innovation in identifying new opportunities and creating new designs and models.

Simulation and Experimentation – People will be able to actively engage with simulated environments (virtual environments) similar to technologies depicted in movies such as Minority Report. This will add a new meaning to the concept of modeling where people will be able to interact with the data and manipulate its various parameters to gauge the response before using that data to formulate policy.

Pattern Sensitivity – This can be described as something that takes place within predictive analytics software. This will allow organizations to create specific groups that can detect emerging patterns by evaluating them to develop scenarios that will assist executives in corporate strategy and planning.

Hyperconnected – Hyperconnectivity relates to social networking and cloud computing that have created networks within networks. An increased emphasis on these networks will mean more work occurs in both formal and informal relationships across the organisation with implications for the way people work and how IT supports their input.

My Place – Technology has created virtual working environments where meetings take place across different time zones, and organizations with people who are complete strangers to each other who work in swarms to attack problems and devise solutions. The 9 to 5 job will be a rarity as more people work flexible hours and away from their desk making the lines between personal, professional, social, family and organizational matters disappear.

Gartner’s 10 work trends provide an interesting insight into what we can expect from workplaces in the future. As we exit the information age and enter a new conceptual age we will witness more practices based on engagement where individuals have more autonomy, more control and less routinisation in their work.


3 for the week: Inspirational quotes to get you through the week – 4th March 2013

MOTIVATION: “Don’t grieve. Anything you love comes round in another form.” – Rumi

SUCCESS: “Often the path to success is paved with massive amounts of failure. Fail sooner, fail more, and you’ll succeed sooner and succeed more.” – Srini Rao

 LIFE & WISDOM: “If you want good service, then serve yourself.” – Spanish Proverb

Leadership Wisdom – 7 Knowledge Nuggets

Leading the pack

Leadership is a fascinating discipline in the business world. Many academics and theorists have written at great length about the topic and published countless books for us to read and process their insights. New research is being published on the subject regularly to help us understand the essence of leadership. Here are seven observations that I discovered in an old journal that characterize what leadership is all about in the real world:

  • Be ready to take decisions when you can’t be certain that you are right
  • Invest more time and effort than you really want to in getting to know your team – talk to them and listen even when you know that what you are saying might not be right
  • The key attributes of successful leader are focus, context and communication. You can learn them. The first 100 days are key: manage your team, listen to them and remember that to get 70% right, you have to get 30% wrong
  • Run an operation through other people rather than doing it yourself. Step back and trust the people working for you
  • A leader has to make the direction clear
  • Effective leaders have a clear sense of purpose and strong values, but they also know when to make compromises
  • Leadership is not achieved by riding into town and shooting it up. Skillful leaders spend time getting a sense of the place

Are you doing any of this? If not, you would we wise to do so!

Photo credit:  Ulrik

3 for the week: Inspirational quotes to get you through the week – 25th February 2013

MOTIVATION: “For one of the most marvelous lessons you learn on a path of personal transformation is that when your heart is open to change, you’re able to recognize the personal signals of encouragement your authentic self is constantly sending, no matter how unlikely the source”. – Sarah Ban Breathnach

SUCCESS: “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” – Sir Winston Churchill

 LIFE & WISDOM: “You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus”. – Mark Twain

Top 10 Life Survival Tips for the Realist


Life can be pretty stressful. On an emotional level though, stress is dangerous and really begins to set in and manifest itself in all sorts of unpleasant forms. Here are ten tips to keep things simple and manageable.

  1. Be yourself – Don’t become a clone of somebody else. Take strength from your individuality. If there is pressure to perform, don’t try to imitate others or else you might end up failing. Find out what works best for you and stick to it.
  2. If things aren’t working out – Things get worse before they get better and often bad news comes together. Remember that you have to have darkness for the dawn to come so be patient.
  3. Don’t strive for perfection – Sometimes it is sensible not to aim for the number 1 spot. Not positioning yourself to be number 1, would probably mean that you would never have to suffer from being knocked off the top so play it nice and easy.
  4. Don’t give up – The sooner you realise that success is tied to not giving up the better. Throwing in the towel is a lot easier so be the person who persists and responds when the going gets tough
  5. Don’t be averse to change -Some people hate change and as a result miss out on potential opportunities. Simply making a few adjustments to the way you think, or to your skills may open you up to a plethora of opportunities that otherwise might not arise.
  6. Happiness comes in small increments – Don’t expect to get quick outcomes when you put in the hard work. The path to success is littered with obstacles, small and large. Whatever you do though, make sure to celebrate the slightest successes in your life as that will get you into a happy, motivational mindset.
  7. Do something that doesn’t come easy – If you don’t go beyond your comfort zone, you won’t go very far. The difference between successful people and the not so successful is their ability to make sacrifices with their comfort zone. Push yourself to get what you really want
  8. Have a plan in life and aim for it – It really is very important to have some sort of goal in your life. Ask yourself what really matters to you in your life and have the end in mind i.e. what do you want to achieve by the time you reach 50. Goals can be perfect motivators and help create a disciplined mindset.
  9. Don’t be fazed by others – If somebody at work says something negative about you or takes a dig at you, don’t take it seriously. It might be that they see you from an entirely different perspective or are probably envious about you in some way. Either way, learn how to develop a thick skin.
  10. Take life as it comes – There’s no need to live life 100 mph. Slow down and take each day as it comes, and don’t try to over analyse life. If you get caught up in it, you are going to set yourself up to fail.

So don’t let the pressures of life run you down. Making the adjustments above will allow you minimise the stressors and instead you will focus on the things that truly matter to you and make you happy.

3 for the week: Inspirational quotes to get you through the week – 18th February 2013

MOTIVATION: “To waste time is to waste your life, but to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it.” – Alan Lakein

SUCCESS: “The successful people are those who don’t give up when the going gets tough, persist despite repeated failures and those who endure treacherous challenges to reach their best.” – Zabe Khan

LIFE & WISDOM: How do geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we, humans, know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within, if only we would listen to it, that tells us so certainly when to go forth into the unknown. – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Things You Shouldn’t Be Doing as a Boss

Stop sign

When you are running your own business and employ staff, you have to learn how to trust them and give them space to do their work with clear guidance and instructions. If you are constantly treading on their toes then you will have them heading for the exit door faster than you can think. Here are six things that bosses need to consciously avoid doing:

  1. Comparing your current employee with a former superstar employee – If you are constantly banging on about how a previous hire knew everything about the company and everything about the job around employees you are going to lose the confidence they have in you, and in turn you will create unnecessary insecurities among employees that will be detrimental to the company.
  2. Playing Big Brother – If you watch and constantly keep up to date with what employees are doing inside and outside the company, you are going to be viewed as a busy body and a micro manager. Worst of all is monitoring the performance of employees in order to reprimand them. Performance management in reality is about trusting your employees to do a good job and giving them the tools they need to do their job effectively.
  3. Always talking about employees bad points – As a boss, it is your job to inspire and motivate your employees. If you are constantly berating them about their weaknesses, you aren’t doing anything positive. What you should be doing is leveraging their strengths with the company’s requirements. Weaknesses can be improved upon through internal and external training.
  4. Getting worked up about tiny things – If you spend more time picking faults in your employees work then you shouldn’t even be a boss. Every employee is unique and has their individual style. If their style isn’t negatively impacting profitability then that is a positive sign. As one Director I once spoke to said, “I don’t mind how an employee does their work, as long as they do it effectively and on time.”
  5. Stop making assumptions about employee engagement – Yes that word ‘engagement’. You here it a lot and you will hear it even more. Some people don’t understand what it means but it means a great deal more than just to motivate and inspire employees. As a boss, if you think that paying an employee a salary on time, giving them their holiday entitlement and providing them with a job is enough, you are wrong. Employees want something more than that but it is often the simplest things that can make a colossal difference. In a recent magazine interview, Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo has cited the need to recognise what things matter to each individual employee and driving engagements efforts based on that. If spending more time with family matters to them then offer them flexible working.

The global economic depression has resulted in a lot of managerial shift. Managers have become younger and one criticism expressed by commentators is that this new generation of bosses does not have the neccessary skills required to create healthy and engaged workforces. What is required is to spend more time training would be managers in soft skills that will increasingly play an integral role in corporate training and development. From a board level perspective, training budgets should not be cut as the economic depression has seen, but boosted and prioritsed to the top of the corporate agenda.