New Expectations for the Workplace

by CoyDavidson on October 6, 2012

Businesspeople working on laptop in an office.

Gen Y’s Impact on the Workplace

In a world of ever-increasing demand for work flexibility, companies should start to look at the benefits of implementing a more flexible work schedule and collaborative workspace environments.

Today, the workplace is made of four generations of workers.

  1. Veterans (1922-1945)
  2. Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
  3. Generation X (1965-1980)
  4. Generation Y (1981-2000)
The significance is in terms of types of workforce behaviors, what motivates employee engagement, and the tools and practices they need to interact.

Here comes the Millennial

The millennial (Gen Y) is the new generation of employees with different workplace behaviors than their predecessors. They are familiar with collaboration tools and expect the enterprise to not only allow but even encourage the use of these tools. These young workers entering the workforce want an engaging flexible workplace that focuses on being measured by results and does not rigidly dictate how they spend the vast majority of their lives.

Gen Y is not adverse to putting in the required time to achieve their goals – they just want increased flexibility to choose those hours and they will make up 75% of the American workforce by 2025. When you think about it that is only 1-2 lease terms away for most major office tenants. How much Gen Y is going to shake up offices and organizations remains to be seen, but there is no question that Gen Y has different work and technology preferences than older workers.


The Activity Based and Results Only Work Environment

Activity-based workplaces (ABW) revolve around creating a workspace that is less hierarchical and fosters collaboration, personal accountability and flexibility. The workplace is designed to accommodate the various activities that office workers undertake rather than have a rigid allocation of space based on a person’s status in the hierarchy of the enterprise.

The Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) is where employees in participating departments are allowed to work virtually anywhere, anytime, as long as they successfully complete their assignments on time

Mobility in the Enterprise

apple mobile devicesMobility is emerging as the key driver of change in the workplace. Enterprise mobility is now made possible through advances in technology such as cloud and mobile computing. Cloud computing is a term for delivering hosted services (infrastructure, platform, software) over the Internet and offers better operational efficiency and flexibility.

This trend comes as no surprise, with younger employee preferences in utilizing smart-phones, tablets and laptops to manage their work activities and complete tasks anywhere anytime. The advent of cloud computing and mobile devices allows us to move away from personal desktop technology, paper and personal files that have anchored the worker to his or her desk. The workplace of the future according to a new study by Citrix will provide just seven desks for every ten office workers, with each person accessing the corporate IT network from an average of six different computing devices.

The Convergence of HR, IT and CRE

The rapid advancement of new technology being introduced into the workplace is affording new opportunities to the enterprise in terms of service delivery, operational efficiency and collaboration driven by enhanced levels of connectivity. Mobility is becoming a critical part of IT strategy and a more distributed workforce seems inevitable. These are pretty substantial changes to the workplace environment and radically reshaping business processes creates significant challenges from both the perspective of the I.T. Department and Human Resources.

The enterprise will need to address security, compliance, and data integration challenges to effectively implement cloud and mobile computing and while the flexibility of working outside the office is increasingly an option at many companies, this creates a whole new set of human resource challenges and real estate considerations.

The corporate real estate department has always focused on cost control and operational efficiency and this will not change. Today we are approaching a new era whereby the I.T and Human Resources department will have a more critical role to play in the corporate real estate planning process to accommodate the preferences of the new breed of knowledge based worker.

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