Not much has changed about the way people work in the last 15 years. Their workstations, by and large at big enterprises, are set up for individual, process-oriented tasks. Their tools are telephones, whiteboards, meetings and e-mail.
However, big change can be expected in the next 10 years, according to Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. I got to speak with Alan at a Microsoft event in New York City called “The Future of Work.” Along with Lepofsky were folks from Trek Bicycles, Delphi, Herman Miller and Jamba Juice, all to talk about how collaboration software—specifically Yammer—has transformed their businesses.
Bryan Goode, senior director of product marketing at Microsoft, moderated the event, which looked at five trends affecting how we work. The first is information overload. With data coming at workers from all different types of sources, it’s important to weed out the noise. Dave Peterson said that at Trek, they’re getting into Power BI, coupling that with Yammer to get people talking about the data, which is how the analysis occurs.
A key point made by Peterson is that collaboration comes from unlikely places when you have a wide-reaching collaboration solution. It’s that solution that offers the network effect. He said his IT team was discussing an issue, and someone from the apparel division chimed in.
Lepofsky explained the second trend: network effect. “It’s not about getting a team to work together; they already do. It’s about getting strangers to work together. That’s the power of the network: Getting answers from anywhere,” he said.
With these digital tools in place, the third trend Goode pointed out is a shift in where work happens. Ryan Anderson, director of future technologies at office furniture company Herman Miller, said, “Mobile has disrupted everything. Work is shifting; it’s less dependent on the physical space.” People, he said, are not doing all their work at their desks. So company leaders have to be open to the idea of people doing more work outside the office than on-site, and letting the workers determine what is best handled digitally and remotely, and what they need to do in a face-to-face environment.
Andrea Siudara, vice president of information technology at Delphi, addressed the fourth trend, distributed workforces, saying, “Technology must work with you where you want to work.”
Lepofsky added that the whole concept of the 40-hour work week is being turned on its head. But, he said, it requires trust and leadership. If you work 25 hours one week, and 55 the next, and 15 hours in the office and 40 outside, but hit the mark on deliverables, that is fine, he said.