Tag Archives: technology

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.

Get the right mix to create the right team

Lizard BalanceHuman capital is one of the most critical areas of a business. In the midst of the talent war, it is now even more important than technology. What is even more important is the caliber of people in a company and the competencies they bring to the table. People are now are the main driver of a business. If companies are to thrive, they must take responsibility for realizing the potential of their staff. They must ensure that any training brings about clearly identifiable and measurable improvements in relevant skills and boosts productivity. However, a pre-condition for this is to have a balanced workforce. A quote by Management Today magazine (2006) captures the essence of this balance by indicating that, “to work well, any company needs a variety of functions – if they unite, it is a premiership side.” A strong team therefore, is made up of a balance of styles. Here are four teamwork styles and their characteristics:

TEAM STYLE 1: Routine Keeper – Tracks details, monitors deadlines, handles paperwork, keeps minutes.

TEAM STYLE 2: People Person – Communicates on multiple levels, builds relationships, brokers solutions, resolves conflicts.

TEAM STYLE 3: Analyst – Evaluates costs, risks and ROI of various options.

TEAM STYLE 4: Visionary – Sees the bigger picture, creates compelling business visions, keeps ahead of trends, thinks outside the box, takes advantage of opportunities.

A lack of styles in any company is likely lead to problems which is precisely why many people working together on teams have differences of opinion. So a company must put in place effective recruiting practices in line with its business objectives. Built on to this is a need for a proper understanding of how each individual works and more importantly what motivates them. When this happens, the company is on course to creating a good team with the right balance of skills and aptitudes.