By: Ryan Malone
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Summary of IDC Executive Brief, "The Future of Work: A New Business Imperative"
Original Article by Angela Salmeron and Anrew Buss, September 2018
The Future of Work: A New Business Imperative
Keeping up With the Changing Workplace
The workplace has dramatically evolved over the past decade. The saying "work is no longer somewhere you go, but something you do" reflects the cultural change brought by a new generation of workers with an insatiable need for flexibility, collaboration, and openness.
For the new generation of employees (particularly Millennials but increasingly Gen Z and broadly any digital native worker), the workplace is not a static environment or limited to specific hours, but one that operates anywhere, anytime, on any device, and essentially fits their modus operandi. Whether they're traveling, off-site with a customer, or working from home, this new breed of employees transforms any environment into their workplace.
Interestingly, the evolution of work is not purely a response to a demanding new workforce, but also a business strategy driven by the CxO and aimed at driving productivity, collaboration, and employee satisfaction.
Besides the internal dynamics in organizations, other megatrends are shaping the Future of Work (FoW): The Future of Work is still an emerging concept, but highly promising across industries. For example, doctors can have up-to-date medical records on the go and improve patient care, field force engineers gain productivity with AR-enabled technology, and so on.
While many technologies are playing a part in the concept of the Future of Work, mobility and collaboration solutions are the most empowering at present. Looking at a (not so distant) future, AI and cognitive systems will be transformational across all industries, impacting employees from finance to manufacturing sectors, augmenting some roles or efficiently assisting others with decision making.
The Future of Work is not only a technology revolution, but also fundamentally a cultural and organizational transformation with "employees" at its heart. A successful FoW strategy takes a holistic integrated approach and addresses questions such as how to empower and trust employees to work anywhere and connect with customers and partners alike, how HR can retain top talent, how organizations can retrain skills and bring innovation, and how robotics and cognitive computing can augment the future workforce.
The Future of Work is an enterprisewide imperative to drive productivity, agility, and workforce engagement. It requires CxO leadership and intimate collaboration between IT, line of business, HR, and facilities functions to source differentiating technology solutions that will drive next-generation talent sourcing and retention. Companies without the right enablement tools and technology will find it difficult to survive.
Future of Work strategies are not easy to implement. The learning curve for organizations is steep but the journey is fascinating. This Executive Brief will help understand the concept of Future of Work and provides a framework to drive transformation across your WorkSpace, WorkCulture, and WorkForce.
Defining the Future of Work
"Technology is changing work as we know it. This impacts organizations' WorkCulture, required skills and the way that talent is sourced, the WorkSpace, and the nature and makeup of the WorkForce itself."
The Future of WorkForce refers to the makeup of the working population, from the increasing participation of Millennials to the relevance of machine-human collaboration.
The three pillars need to coexist harmoniously to drive work transformation. Some organizations have advanced WorkSpace strategies but fail to engage and facilitate a collaborative WorkCulture among their employees. Many are missing how robotics and AI can augment their WorkForce. An integrated holistic approach across all the three pillars is the holy grail for a successful FoW strategy. An integrated, holistic approach across all the three pillars is the holy grail for a successful FoW strategy.
The Future of Work is not only a technology revolution, but also fundamentally a cultural and organizational transformation with "employees" at its heart. FoW readiness is at the early stages of maturity across most regions. IDC research indicates that U.S. companies are ahead, thanks to their entrepreneurial mindset, technology acumen, and cultural agility, while Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) and EMEA follow, with adoption growing rapidly.
The Future of WorkSpace
Nine-to-five office locations are a relic of the past. Work is less place-dependent and time-bound, as employees are using a mix of physical, digital, and immersive technologies to transform any environment into a "WorkSpace." It is fundamentally people-driven and powered by technology to create experiential work.
The office space is going through major redesign for maximum productivity and collaboration while employees are on-site. Many organizations are cutting down the number of locations across geographies and opening strategic "office hubs" (equipped with modern hot desking facilities, conferencing rooms, open informal spaces for networking and break area, etc.) that have comparatively lower operational and capital costs.
At a basic level, the WorkSpace of the future is an open, flexible, and highly connected working environment in which employees enjoy mobility, offsite collaboration, and secure access to the right tools and data to fulfill their roles with speed and ease. This is critical for employee happiness and their overall quality and productivity. Failing to equip employees with modern tools and resources in general leads to their frustration and eventual departure.
Many organizations are implementing the WorkSpace of the future, including:
Mobility: Flexible Working Environments
While most enterprises have a traditional mobile workforce (for example, the field and sales force), the wave of digital technology adoption is creating a new type of mobile workers who are not bound to their office desks as they were in the past. According to IDC, 56.5% of the workforce in 2017 in Western Europe had flexible workstyles, an increase of 5.7 percentage points year on year. Of those, 22% are working from home.
According to the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 64% of organizations are offering flexible working environments (21% higher compared with a similar survey the year before), reflecting not only how rapidly technology is facilitating flexible working, but also how employers are trusting employees with the new workstyles.
The benefits are multiple. The Deloitte's survey shows flexible working is strongly linked to improved performance and employee retention. At least 80% of Millennials in highly flexible environments believe it has a positive impact on well-being, productivity, and work engagement. Flexibility is not for all companies, but it can play an important role in employees' decision to take or leave a job. At a basic level, the WorkSpace of the future is an open, flexible, and highly connected working environment. Mobility is taking center stage in the new working environment, as employees are transforming any available space into a WorkSpace.
Mobility is undoubtedly taking center stage in the new working environment, as employees are transforming any available space into a workspace.
In the WorkSpace of the future, employees adopt a device-agnostic approach and use spaces as they see fit. Regular PCs are still a valuable working tool, especially for complex and demanding tasks, but there's a growing interest in mobile form factors, such as convertibles, tablets, and smartphones.
Consumerization is driving developments in mobility, from voice-enabled technology to AI and digital assistants, but the pace of innovation will not abate any time soon.
Securing the Workplace: "By Design and by Default"
As new workstyles are more open, flexible, and collaborative, IT departments are tasked to support employees while protecting corporate assets and personal privacy. This is most challenging given the dynamic threat landscape (hackers turning their attention to mobile employees), the regulatory framework, and wide use of Shadow IT by most employees. It is therefore no surprise that security and data privacy protection is the top IT investment for 57% of digital organizations at present.
Consumerization is driving developments in mobility, from voice‐enabled technology to AI and digital assistants, but the pace of innovation will not abate any time soon.
The new European General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) has transformed the adoption of workplace security, not just in Europe but globally as well. GDPR is relevant to any company in the world handling the personally identifiable information (PII) of people in the EU and has important implications for internal companies with data transfers outside the EU (data sovereignty). Furthermore, it is also becoming a global standard and top of the agenda for many governments across the world (Argentina, New Zealand, Japan, etc.)
For GDPR compliance purposes, state-of-the-art security technology is not mandated, but firms must "take [it] into account" (Article 32 of the GDPR) when deciding what to do. Companies should protect their systems from cyberattacks and, just as importantly, from insider threats from employees — both accidental and malicious. The latter accounts for the majority of security breaches. IDC identifies the following main security solutions in the Future WorkSpace:
Security must be integrated in the blueprint of any digital initiative, it must be "by design and by default" and cannot be an afterthought. Any company ignoring these basic principles is taking an undesirable level of risk exposure of penalties and reputational damage.
From a management point of view, enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions are expanding to support modern PC management structures, what IDC calls Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) platforms. We believe that nearly two-thirds of Windows 10 Devices (PCs and tablets) are currently managed via UEM, which effectively provides benefits to both end users and IT departments:
The Future of WorkCulture
The "best place to work" is an important indicator of employees' satisfaction with their workplace and is widely used in the media to attract and retain top talent.
To attract the most talented employees, organizations have to compete by using more than just remuneration, generous benefits or brand reputation. This is no longer a task for HR exclusively, but an orchestrated effort of IT, facilities, and business leaders to ensure the workplace delivers the best employee experience.
New entrants to the workforce, such as Millennials and Gen Z, are seeking collaborative and inclusive workplaces where they feel valued, trusted, and part of an agile and innovative team. They also want a well-balanced blend of work and life in which the former becomes a genuine part of the latter. Their habits and expectations are shaping the future of the WorkCulture. Security must be integrated in the blueprint of any digital initiative, it must be "by design and by default" and cannot be an afterthought.
A new generation of workers is seeking collaborative and inclusive workplaces where they feel valued, trusted, and part of an agile and innovative team.
Highly Collaborative Working Environments
The African proverb "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together" fits well with the future of WorkCulture.
Collaboration is the essence of productivity and innovation in the workplace, and it is the glue that keeps employees highly engaged and motivated towards a common goal. It is the heart and soul of corporate WorkCulture.
According to the Harvard Business Review Analytic Service Survey, March 2018, companies with a high degree of connectivity and collaboration are more than twice as likely to report a better market position than their peers. Furthermore, 40% of highly connected companies say their revenue grew more than 10% over the past two years, versus only 29% of those with poor collaboration. A connected and collaborative workforce empowered with the right data helps companies to operate at speed.
The same Harvard survey shows that a collaborative culture must be enabled by technology, confirmed by 70% of their respondents with highly engaged environments. In companies with low connectivity and collaboration, 72% strongly agree that having outdated technology is making it harder to retain employees with high-value skills and experience.
Organizations are looking for Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC) solutions that provide easier, more intuitive end-user experiences with anywhere, anytime access to content that easily integrates with an array of enterprise systems and applications. UCC solutions are becoming highly sophisticated platforms through some advanced features:
Conferencing solutions are vital for employee collaboration. Since employees spend around 16% of their working week in meetings and 65% of them collaborate multiple times a day, intelligent conferencing solutions can effectively deliver a positive user experience in the way workers schedule, set up, access, and work together.
Spending on UC&C solutions is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 8.1% for the 2018–2022 period, reaching $53.8 billion in 2022. Talent Sourcing
Getting the right people will be the sustaining difference for companies to succeed over time.
Top talent is fiercely fought over. All industries without exception are facing a shortage of skilled workers, and this deficit will worsen as more workers reach retirement age. The "war" to attract emerging digital skill sets is drastically changing talent sourcing models:
Innovation and Talent Development
Employee training is an important part of career progression. Employees of all ages and qualifications are brushing up their skills whenever they can and however they can. Adaptability is essential for organizations as they navigate the changes ahead, and individual employees are responsible for acquiring new skills and experiences throughout their careers.
Organizations are developing their own training programs and participating in digital cooperatives that advance digital skills. The goal is not only to bridge the talent gap and bring innovation, but the opportunity for employers to better engage with their employees. Training programs are increasingly using open community platforms, such as hackerspaces and fab labs for advanced technologies (for example, Chevron and GE are investing in their own fab labs) and are partnering with schools and universities to engage with top talent early.
The ability of companies to drive innovation across their organization is vital, which places greater emphasis on the skills, management, and people supporting this process. According to IDC surveys, organizations prefer to use internal programs for innovation, particularly through innovation centers and internal crowdsourcing (often used by high profile companies such as Coca Cola, Hyundai, and Unilever), while customer participation is only used by a third of companies. Partnerships with start-ups are also becoming a common practice for large and well-established organizations with a need for speed, disruption, and diversity thinking in their WorkCulture. Partnerships with start‐ups are becoming a common practice for large and well‐ established organizations with a need for speed, disruption, and diversity thinking in their WorkCulture. Getting the right people will be the sustaining difference for companies to succeed.
New Technology Consumption Models
The switch to a subscription-based consumption model of technology is gaining wide acceptance across many organizations and reveals a cultural shift from "owning" to "using" assets. This is manifest in the growing demand for software as a service (SaaS) solutions, dominated by application purchases (e.g., ERM, CRM, and collaborative applications) and for infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
As far as devices are concerned, the BYOx phenomenon is losing relevance in the Future of Work and new procurement models are rising in popularity, notably device as a service (DaaS). A combination of combating security risks and the fact that new employees expect their work devices to be superior to their own could partly explain the current trend of employees opting for corporate devices at work. DaaS can allow for both personal and work use with the right corporate policies in place.
Companies are developing an appetite for an operational expense model and for outsourcing daily time-consuming tasks. IDC surveys reveals that 14% of IT personnel are spent on device lifecycle management, which is excessive in the opinion of most IT directors. IT workload reduction is viewed as one of the top benefits of DaaS agreements. We predict that 20% of Fortune 1000 companies will have a DaaS agreement in place by 2020.
DaaS is ideal for companies undergoing workplace transformation, meeting both IT departments' and end users' requirements with a platform that is agile, secure across the organization, and tailored to employees. Employee satisfaction is enhanced when the solution offers choice, design, and a uniform end-user experience across devices. Solutions with advanced analytics can help with IT automation and employee productivity.
The Future of the WorkForce
The nature and makeup of the workforce is dramatically evolving. On the one hand, demographic shifts are impacting the size, age, and diversity of the workforce; on the other hand, intelligent technologies and smart machines are augmenting and automating work while creating new opportunities for value creation within organizations.
DaaS is ideal for companies undergoing workplace transformation, with a platform that is agile, secure across the organization, and tailored to employees. Intelligent technologies and smart machines are augmenting and automating work while creating new opportunities for value creation within organizations.
Demographics Shifts in the Workforce
According to the study Profile of the global workforce: present and future by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the global working population is expected to increase by 900 million people between 2010 and 2030. However, this increase is not spread proportionally across the regions:
Human and Machine Collaboration
Cognitive computing and artificial intelligence (AI) are dramatically transforming the WorkForce in multiple ways, automating some roles, augmenting others, or efficiently assisting with decision making.
Worldwide spending on cognitive and AI systems is expected to reach $19.1 billion in 2018, an increase of 54.2% over the amount spent in 2017. At present, the most popular use cases of AI/ cognitive computing in the WorkForce are the following:
Customer service agents (with $2.4 billion investment expected in 2018) led by retail and telecommunications organizations.
The advancement of robotics technology is also disrupting the makeup of the Future Workforce. By the end of 2018, robot adoption will have increased by one-third, with 60% of G2000 high-tech manufacturers deploying industrial robots in tasks such as precision assembly, test and inspection, and material handling. As manufacturing companies seek productivity and agility, robotics is replacing physical work in most instances.
The future of WorkForce is humans and machines, with the latter amplifying and augmenting human possibilities. No industry sector will be unaffected by automation and robotics, hence the need for organizations to reskill and adapt affected employees into new roles and capabilities. A recent example is Bank of America, which in April 2018 launched a set of online courses to train employees for new AI-era jobs, soon after the introduction of Erica, its digital assistant for customers. Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) AR/VR is in a developing stage, but there's already a number of companies studying how to take advantage of these technologies, particularly for field work and training purposes:
Organizations piloting or initially implementing AR/VR include the following:
AR/VR is in a developing stage, but there's already a number of companies studying how to take advantage of these technologies, particularly for field work and training purposes. 60% of G2000 high‐tech manufacturers are deploying industrial robots in tasks such as precision assembly, test and inspection, and material handling.
Considerations for a Successful FoW
The Future of Work is a business mandate. The average lifespan of S&P 500 companies has shrunk from 60 to 18 years in the past half a century. To survive, companies not only have to undergo digital transformation, but also embrace the Future of Work (FoW) approach to make it successful. Implementing FoW is far from straightforward. Supporting and securing an open, flexible, and highly engaged workforce is challenging for IT departments. Business managers (e.g., marketing, sales, HR, facilities departments) are also confronted with other issues, such as talent shortages, organizational inertia, and most importantly, the disconnect with IT departments, which impedes business transformation. Creating a holistic Future of the Work strategy requires intimate collaboration between IT and business. Such alignment is not an end goal but a journey which needs constant readjustment to keep pace with changes in technology, talent needs, and business strategy. IDC has the following recommendations:
IT Recommendations: Play a more strategic role in creating business value. Shift your IT policy approach from command and control to partnering and influencing. This is the best way to empower and gain the trust of your employees and tackle shadow IT. Focus on employee experience. The latter is personalized, compelling, uses the latest digital technologies, and helps employees "feel connected" with their company. Work with HR to create a personalized working environment that empowers employees to achieve their best at work. Engage with your employees. IT is moving to an enabler for the business and should successfully shift its engagement approach from cop to co-op. There are many approaches to enabling this, such as workforce advisory councils, regular surveys, technology champions, and user support groups. Consider marketing your capabilities and success stories back into the workforce to create positive awareness and goodwill. Creating a holistic Future of the Work strategy requires intimate collaboration between IT and business. Empower employees with the right technology and access to the relevant enterprise content. Inform them that they are trusted to do the right thing with technology. Security and data privacy should be at the top of their business agendas too. Adopt modern unified endpoint management (UEM) platforms to support flexible and highly collaborative workstyles. With them, your employees can securely and seamlessly access relevant enterprise content and apps to do their jobs across any device. Adopt state of the art security solutions (referencing GDPR) to prevent security and data breaches. Adopt a "security by design and by default" strategy by purchasing devices with strong built-in security architectures. This also means considering accelerating the replacement of older devices that are more susceptible to hacks or breaches. Streamline your IT operations by investing in IT automation tools and outsourcing day-to-day IT tasks. Consider device as a service (DaaS) or workplace as a service (WPaaS). This will free up IT resources for more strategic projects and control your capital expenditure. Work very closely with HR. Recruit digital IT talent with a dynamic approach of in-house employees and freelancers by using new sourcing talent platforms. Choose well-established vendors that can understand your Future of Work needs and transformation journey. Business Recommendations: Engage with IT departments as a business partner. Involve them in your strategic decisions and business challenges. Make them aware of the importance of supporting new workstyles for employee satisfaction and retention. Invest in your employees' wellbeing. Happy employees are creative, innovative, and are more likely to stay. Becoming a "top company to work for" attracts and retains top talent. Empower employees with the right technology and nurture a working environment where they feel deeply engaged and motivated. Redesign your workplace to meet the needs of tomorrow's workforce. Think about collaboration, flexibility, and creativity as key goals of the new physical space. Office "hubs" equipped with hot desking have comparatively lower operational and capital costs. Facilitate an open, dynamic, and collaborative working environment with the right technologies and corporate policies. Promote co-innovation with start-ups and customers to drive technology disruption at a much faster rate. Improve customer service excellence and productivity by using AI and cognitive computing (e.g., digital assistants, AR/VR, preventative maintenance analytics) and cost-efficient technologies (e.g., 3D printing). Turn to online communities and platforms to acquire temporary staff to complement your in-house resources at peak times of activity in your business. Anticipate your talent needs and build a talent pipeline that matches your business trajectory. Facilitate an open, dynamic, and collaborative working environment with the right technologies and corporate policies.