With the growth of smartphones, social media and cloud-based services, every aspect of the workplace is evolving. From hiring practices that include Google and Facebook searches to multi-continent team meetings held exclusively online, companies of all sizes are finding ways to adapt to the changing world of work.
And businesses should be prepared for even more radical changes in the years to come, according to Gartner Research vice president Tom Austin. In a recent article for the BBC, he discussed how the changing workplace will affect businesses and workers.
"As the lines between work and non-work become increasingly entwined, it's certain that we are in for yet more radical changes in the years to come," said Austin. His predictions are a smattering of both long-term megatrends and short-term changes, but they revolve around a key idea: that the future of work is less about ordained business rules and more about people, relationships and spontaneity.
"The future of work will be a mix of many styles, evolving in various ways in different environments and cultures." - Tom Austin, vice president at Gartner Research
The evolving workplace requires individuals to take a proactive role in guiding their own career path, owning both the development of their skill set and the relationships that will connect those skills to work success. Austin believes that hyper-connectedness within organizations "will lead to more work crossing company boundaries in both formal and informal relationships."
Employees in this model need to take on the mentality of freelancers: leveraging their networks for opportunities and collaboration, adopting a position of self-education for advancement, and aggressively managing their time between work and other (non-work) obligations in order to progress their careers.
Additionally, there will be increased value placed on the results of teams or — more specifically — swarms. "Swarming is a new and different form of teamwork, characterised by a flurry of collective activity from everyone available and able to add value," said Austin. These optional meetings and projects will become key opportunities for individuals to stand out by adding value as part of a larger crowd.
Predictions bring more questions
Many of Austin's predictions align with the concept of Work 3.0 — a world where work is on demand, virtual and remote — but there are still lingering questions about how these will translate into the realities of the future workplace. How can companies effectively balance a workforce between employees and contractors without creating a class structure where one is valued over the other? How will spontaneity and swarming meld with the increasingly global nature of teams, in which aligning time zones can be a challenge? We look forward to finding out.
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