Biggest concerns about the workplace of the future


The workplace of the future promises many benefits, including greater location flexibility for workers, better collaboration tools, and “smart” offices.

But the workplace of the future will be no utopia, particularly for IT professionals who are responsible for integrating and securing new technologies, enabling employee productivity, and controlling costs. A recent IDG survey of IT decision-makers in the U.K. shows that a number of concerns and potential problems involving the workplace of the future may be keeping them up at night.

Asked to cite their biggest fears regarding the workplace of the future (and presented a list), four stood out:  44% of survey respondents said they feared “a more complex IT infrastructure,” followed by “alienating existing employees” (40%), “the increasing likelihood of cyberattacks” (39%), and “increased costs” (38%).

Perfectly reasonable worries, and not just in the workplace of the future, but in the workplace of the present as well!

The other specific fears were “a weaker company culture” (26%), “reduced employee morale” (21%), “reduced productivity/business efficiency” (20%), and “reduced employee retention” (13%).

Notice that most of the potential problems listed above are people- and culture-related, and not about technology per se. Which is why it’s important to have effective change management and clear lines of communication.

“If the office of the future is implemented incorrectly, it can alienate people. It could also disadvantage those who aren’t digital natives and have an impact on productivity, especially in a global organisation,” says Gideon Kay, Dentsu Aegis Network’s EMEA CIO and a member of the Workplace of the Future report steering committee. “Care must be taken to ensure such changes are aligned with the culture and values of the organisation.”

Perhaps worse than poor implementation would be ignoring the workplace of the future. “Businesses need to alter their stance if they are to prepare their workplaces for the future,” the IDG report advises. “Remote and flexible working, for example, is part of transforming the traditional workplace, yet studies have shown that many organisations are still reluctant to allow their workers to work flexibly or remotely.”

Which gets to the importance of meeting the expectations of employees and prospective employees. Millennials and post-Millennials simply don’t want to work for organizations that won’t allow them the flexibility of doing their jobs wherever they want, or insist on forcing employees to use primitive technologies. In a future post I’ll talk about what IDG survey respondents said they want as employees from a workplace of the future.

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