It's no secret that the modern workplace is changing. Cloud solutions, remote employees and global collaboration have become the new normal for many companies, and these changes are redefining the way offices are run.
Microsoft recently held an event in its New York City office called Future of Work, which featured a panel of seven forward-thinking business executives who are fully immersed in future workplace trends. The speakers offered the following tips to help today's leaders successfully guide their employees into the workplace of the future. [MORE: 4 Trends That Will Change the Way We Work]
Start with small changes to your company. "[Leaders are] all looking for one company to make a big shift, but people [should be] doing little changes. Experiment with your workspace, budgets, communications, review process, etc." – Adam Pisoni, co-founder of enterprise social network Yammer
Embrace the unknown. "How do you tell a customer you don't know the answer to something? Be honest with them. Build a conversation. Embrace the fact that you don't know and might not ever. It's OK to fail, as long as you're upfront about it." – David Peterson, enterprise collaboration manager at Trek
Help multigenerational workers connect. "Use reverse mentoring. Hold a 30-minute session. Have younger people teach older [workers] about technological tools for 15 minutes, and then have the older ones teach business skills for 15." – Alan Lepofsky, collaboration software analyst with Constellation Research
Create a transitional plan to "future-proof" your company against changing technologies. "You need to plan for all [types of technology adopters] with a broad tech strategy. You'll see a shift over time — there will be less holdouts, but there will always be some. [Forward-thinking] workspace design is a response to this, and it's a good way to attract talent." – Andrea Siudara, vice president of information technology at automotive technologies provider Delphi
Decrease the perceived distance between the top and the bottom. "New systems [need to be] put in place to see outcome-based work. Middle managers were traditionally the gatekeepers between the top echelons and the front lines. They have to become facilitators." – Charlene Li, founder of research and consulting firm Altimeter Group and author of "Open Leadership" (Jossey-Bass, 2010)
Be transparent and responsive. "Internal conversations are happening, but [leaders] are struggling with direct reports. They're not sure how to straddle the boundaries [between upper management and lower-level employees], so they're not responding or passing things off to other staff. It's more impactful when messages come from executives." – Grace Chanpong, manager of communication and technology at Jamba Juice
Encourage complete overhauls of the status quo to allow new and transformative ideas to emerge. "Have 'hacker days.' You'll need protocols, but for this new work style [to be effective], you need to allow people to break things down and rebuild them." – Ryan Anderson, director of future technologies at office solutions provider Herman Miller
Originally published on Business News Daily.