Archive for September, 2010

The 2020 Workplace

Remember Y2K? At the time the founder of Facebook was still at school and Google was moving out of a garage into an office. The world seems so different from just 10 years ago, Google and Facebook were unknowns and we can have no doubt that 2020 will likewise offer many changes, opportunities and challenges.

The above is the title of a new book by 2 american HR consultants from The Future Workplace and it offers insights and predictions of how globilisation, the use of social media and the wide mix of generations working together will change the workplace. The authors Jeanne Meister and Karie Willyerd blend a number of existing trends and predict changes in the workplace will be largely led by the ‘millennials’ i.e. those born between 1977 and 1997. They will constitute 47% of the workforce and will drive many culture shifts because of their ease of use of social media and mobile devices.

They predict that personnel will be recruited by social media and assessed by how they can use social media. Blogging will be part of every CEO’s job description because blogs help others understand you and your company.

The other culture change will be the need to accommodate 5 generations of workers, obviously the millennials will supply workers in their 20’s and 30’s and a higher participation of older workers up to their late 60’s which means companies must accommodate widely for working and learning styles.

The authors also provide us with new jargon terms to use in this new culture like ‘micr0-feedback’, ‘reverse mentoring’ and ‘uber connected’.

I am more interested in the Workspace of 2020, in other words how will the physical environment need to change to accommodate the new workplace? We may be driving silly looking bubble cars powered by hydrogen or compressed air controlled by computers which stop us from speeding or crashing into each other but I don’t think our office spaces will look like something from the Jetsons cartoon show. Buildings are more permanent structures after all. Firstly I think that those who predicted the demise of the CBD and office space some time ago on the emergence of broadband internet and e-shopping will still be wrong by 2020. The fact is that people are social creatures and like interacting with each other, collaborating and sharing goals and projects together, not to mention the need to interact with clients all of which is most easily achieved in a central location.

Looking back on some of the fashionable trends like kidney shaped desk units Don Smith of CoreNet New Zealand ( believes office users are returning to simplicity with a focus on using and accessing technology. Don is involved in the new IRD headquarters where rows of 1800×900 desks will be set up, upper management will occupy open areas and it is envisaged that many departmental structures will break down or soften as workers move around desks to collaborate with others on projects. Agility is the key which he defines as flexibility with speed.

The buildings  and floors will look much the same and workers will not necessarily be compacted together for efficient ratios of sqm per head. Computers and phones will be more compact, mobile and cordless and the office spaces will predominantly beopen plan layouts with meeting rooms. Adoption of green features to control environments and manage water etc. will continue to be rather slow according to Don Smith. Popular with public sector tenants, green buildings are expensive to build  and tenants have to be convinced of long term savings.

So fellow agents how prepared are you for 2020?

September 10 2010 | Uncategorized | No Comments »