Workplace 2020: how to shape the future of the day

With the advent of a new year, it is imperative to break out of your functional silo and think about initiatives that will benefit the workplace, and not just HR, writes Heidi Spirgi

A new year is upon us. For personal resolutions, losing weight, eating healthier and exercising are very popular choices. For professional resolutions, improving time management, maintaining a clean work desk and landing a new position are common.

As strategic planning continues on from late last year and into this month, give thought to your role and desired influence on the workplace, and make them a part of your New Year’s resolutions. Be reminded, like all resolutions, the goals you set out do not have to happen overnight.

Workplace 2020
If you need inspiration when deciding on your workplace-related New Year’s resolutions, consider looking through the business publications stacked on your desk and/or sift through the numerous blogs in your inbox.

While going through the information, you may come across new vendors, best practices and business terms. You will probably notice the term Workplace 2020 has become part of HR’s vernacular, yet what it truly entails is not 100 percent clear to many HR professionals.

We know come year 2020, there will be five generations in the workplace. We also know digital natives will make up the vast majority in organisations worldwide. For 2020, these same digital natives will include individuals who were using iPads at the tender age of three, whom as toddlers were lost when on a flight without Wi-Fi, and were used to typing versus actually writing something down. Given the aforementioned, when it comes to business priorities in year 2020, technology will be first and processes will take second place.

An experience at work
As HR professionals, you dedicate your time for both the present and future. So many of your initiatives currently in place were planned one, two and/or three years ago.

When planning for the near and long-term future, you need to think about what it is you are really trying to accomplish and reasons why. You are most likely experiencing now and will continue to experience so many moving parts in the workplace. As an example, the employees you serve and those you will serve in the future (ie, year 2020) want “an experience at work”.

What does this actually mean? To understand “an experience at work”, hopefully you can answer “yes” to the following questions and have begun to act on them:

  • Have you considered changing work hours?
  • Have you re-assessed how productivity should be measured?
  • Have you given thought to employees working across all functions?

As part of your effort to win the war on talent (that will only become more challenging), it is important for you to know your employees want an agile organisation willing and able to adjust to market conditions.

These same employees don’t want to do “more of the same” to increase market share, but want to disrupt the industries in which they operate. While these employees want to contribute to their organisations’ achievements, they also want fun – boundless fun as part of their work experience.

For the betterment of the WorkPLACE
At this point, it is important to note the term Workforce 2020 often found in HR-related publications, is not synonymous with Workplace 2020. Whereas Workforce 2020 refers to rebuilding HR for the modern workforce, the term Workplace 2020 is about rebuilding the way business gets done in 2020.

To help explain the differences between the terms, I will give you a scenario from a large coffee chain. The coffee chain’s employees do not have laptops; they get company information from their mobile devices. A large number of their baristas have and use their devices to learn how to work the latest coffee machines. These baristas also have on-demand access to training such as sexual harassment training.

When sharing important information, the organisation sends out text messages. Not only is the information sent out and received in lightening speed, time has proven that the employees are more productive, informed, and engaged. The coffee chain is currently in the process of developing a mobile/social intranet to house information, including but not limited to benefits, shifts and training.

Employees are grateful for the technology’s ease of use, a major component to a user’s experience. While these employees work for an admired organisation, this type of technology is and will continue to be expected by their employees, as well as yours.

In the past, businesses built their workplaces by business function. An HR department was created and often operated based on what they believed to be their sole responsibility – the workforce. The coffee chain example shows how technology, specifically mobile functionality (a big component of Workplace 2020), can be a unifier for employees and workplaces vs. operating as functional silos.

Advanced technology helps business functions, especially HR, focus on what should be the focus – the workplace.

As an HR professional committed (whether a New Year’s resolution or not) to creating business value and not just administering people transactions, it is imperative to break out of your functional silo and think about initiatives that will benefit the workplace, not just HR.

The next 10 years cannot look like the last 10 years. We have new technology and a tech savvy generation in the workplace, so let’s start shaping the the future of the workplace today!

Happy New Year!

5 things you need to know

  1. It’s not too late to make your professional New Year’s resolution – these are not resolutions that will happen overnight.
  2. Before you start planning for the future you need to really think about what you’re trying to accomplish and why. Consider what the experience at work will be like once this happens and what must change to get it to that place.
  3. To win the war on talent it’s important to know that your employees want to work in an agile organisation and that they are able and willing to adjust with market conditions.
  4. Workforce 2020 is not synonymous with Workplace 2020. Workforce 2020 is about rebuilding HR for the modern workforce. Workplace 2020 focuses on rebuilding the way business gets done in 2020.
  5. To successfully implement Workplace 2020 organisations must break out of functional silos, thinking about initiatives that benefit the workplace, not just HR.

Heidi Spirgi is senior vice-president of the advisory practice for global technology-enabled services provider Appirio