The modern American workplace is undergoing drastic changes. Everything from company culture to how buildings are managed is on the table. Business operations, workspaces, and social norms are all adapting to the earth shattering changes brought about by the digital revolution and ongoing social progress.
"Mobile and social are driving a huge cultural shift and, in fact, are creating a whole new work style," said Oudi Antebi, co-founder of RedKix, told Business News Daily. "People aren't chained to their desks the way they were even five years ago. As a modern, mobile workforce, we're shedding the desktop and clunky software in for systems and tools that give us the freedom to work with anyone."
So, how will the workplace of the future be impacted by these changes? What will the day to day look like, and how will companies take advantage of emerging trends? Two experts speculated about trends in technological tools, office layout and company culture that will shape the workplace in the coming years.
Today's workers use many different technological tools to work together. For many organizations, email is still the primary method of communication, but this could change in the near future.
"We'll still be using an inbox five years from now, but it will look vastly different than today's antiquated email experience, which is cumbersome and limited," Antebi said. "There are countless startups focused on reimagining email inboxes, building real-time messaging for the workplace and tackling the challenge of weaving together disparate cloud services into a more unified experience. I believe those tools will come together to provide the answer to the question, what's after email?"
Antebi believes that business software will evolve to provide a more personalized, consumerlike experience for end users.
"[There is] new emphasis on designing enterprise platforms and tools that will enable workers to collaborate seamlessly with colleagues and customers across devices, across teams and across the world," he said. "Enterprise apps [will be] all about user experience and building products that people love. Software must deliver new innovation quickly with minimal work on the user's end."
Every facet of business is now driven by data. From results-oriented analysis to building management systems, data capture and analytics are more advanced than ever before. Coupled with machine learning technology that can analyze vast troves of data that would take a superhuman effort, decision makers are now apprised of more context than ever before, and served with educated recommendations by their artificial intelligence cohorts. [Artificial intelligence is in more places than you think. Here's how it's changing business.]
In recent years, the corporate world has begun to shift away from cubicles and C-suite offices in favor of a more open office environment. While it's certainly more cost-effective to eliminate physical barriers, John Michael, VP of distribution channels for Herman Miller, Inc., believes there's another reason companies are implementing this type of layout. [Technology is now augmenting buildings to create smart offices that were once the realm of sci-fi.]
"The most recent workforce generation is [comprised of] digital natives who have engaged with technology all their lives," he said. "They're used to multitasking, and like to engage and collaborate with co-workers. An open office encourages this type of dynamic among employees."
Baby Boomer and Generation X executives sometimes have difficulty with the idea of an open work environment, as the more traditional closed-door office is often associated with status and privacy, Michael said. An open layout that includes private spaces for meetings and confidential discussions allows for the best of the old and the new, he said.
"Open plans are less about having individual work stations and more about having work settings," Michael told Business News Daily. "Employees need the ability to move from setting to setting that supports the type of work they're doing at the time."
Collaboration has become the cultural goal of many companies today, and for good reason: A collaborative work environment leads to more productivity, creativity and innovation.
"Collaboration yields exponential benefits, sparks new ideas that would have never arisen from within a silo, and creates new opportunities for employees to share and use information," Antebi said. "Beyond that, collaboration makes workers feel more connected to their colleagues and company, and allows them to build meaningful relationships that enhance their lives both professionally and personally."
As Michael noted, an open office layout better accommodates group work activity, and goes hand in hand with a collaborative culture. Whether you're deciding how to design the workspace or figuring out how to tackle a project, gathering input from as much of the team as possible is key to promoting this type of environment.
"Be inclusive in terms of understanding both workflow needs and the personal needs of employees," Michael said. "When people see that their input is valued and used, it helps create buy-in, and you'll have a more successful outcome."
Additional reporting by Adam C. Uzialko. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.