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The Future of Work in the Information Age


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The combined influence of new technologies, new generations with their refreshing attitudes to more traditional workplace ways, and an abundance of data on our behaviour has, and continues to

To help prepare for the next phase of work, I examined ten key trends in workplace culture and outlined how they can help you and your team in the years to come.

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The Future of Work in the Information Age

  3. 3. FOREWORD Productivity, innovation and collaboration – these are the essential foundations for an organisation to succeed, and survive, in the market of the future. The combined influence of new technologies, new generations with their refreshing attitudes to more traditional workplace ways, and an abundance of data on our behaviour has, and continues to, shape and reimagine the way we work and live. Just 15 years ago, a future where executives accessed the latest company information on their phone, collaborated with colleagues without leaving their desk, and held meetings with staff in other continents with video conferencing, would have seemed radical. Today, these behaviours are the norm. These changes are only the beginning. To help prepare for the next phase, we’ve examined ten key trends in workplace culture and outlined how they can help you and your team in the years to come. Here’s to an exciting future of work! Jack & Lloyd co-founders
  5. 5. 01 AUTOMATION Funding 0 50 100 150 200 250 $300million Year 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Data:CB Insights Total venture capital money for pure AI startups, by year The coming together of what were – until recently – isolated technologies mean we now stand on the verge of an unprecedented revolution that will transform business operations. A perfect storm of technological innovations have combined to accelerate a shift towards automation in the workplace. Ever-increasing computer processing power and decreasing cost of data storage Advances and investment in Artificial Intelligence. Illustrated by figure 1. Improved Big Data analysis, largely due to developments in Machine Learning The Internet of Things Figure 1. Startup Investment AUTOMATION
  6. 6. McKinsey & Company 2015 The arrival of AI powered automation in the workplace is inevitable. However, just how it will impact the employment landscape of the future is the source of much debate. Argument 1: Displacement of workers from automation is already happening and about to get much worse. Argument 2: Advances in automation will change jobs, but won't reduce them. Pew Research Centre, 2014 When examined in isolation, any technological advance can be either positive or negative for employment. The outcome ultimately depends upon the social and political apparatus within which the technology operates. Given the above and the absence of a definitive view on the pace of transformation in the workplace resulting from automa- tion, it is advisable that, at this point, a short term view of its impact should be taken. Therefore over the next ten to 15 years focus will likely be on the automation of tasks rather than entire jobs. Knowledge work automation will be the most significant disruptive technology to influence the world over the next 10 years, second only to the addition of 2 – 3billion new mobile internet users by 2025. Mobile InternetofThings Automationofknowledgework Cloud AdvancedRobotics AdvancedVehicles Genomics EnergyStorage 3DPrinting AdMaterials Fig.2 Disruptive Technologies AUTOMATION
  7. 7. AUTOMATION Examples Identifying leads, sending prospective emails, sending follow up emails, arranging meetings and gathering info on the prospect. Recognise this process? Correct – it's sales. Another area ripe for automation. Consider the common issue of arranging meetings. A great deal of time is wasted sending email messages back-and-forth trying to arrange a date, time and place that works for all parties involved. Instead, automation tools such as X.AI and Clara Labs, when copied into any email, use AI to understand your availability and preferences to then schedule meetings on your behalf. All you have to do is turn up! Automation of tasks can empower employees, teams and organisations, eliminating tedious and time-consuming jobs, driving increases in productivity the likes of which the business world has never before seen. Many ground breaking companies are using AI powered automation – specifically Machine Learning – to revolutionize their use of data. AI can extract patterns and relationships from huge volumes of data, providing data scientists with the knowledge of where to focus their work. Humans can typically create one or two (data analysis) models a week; machine learning can now create thousands of models a week Thomas H Davenport, 2014 Author of Big Data@Work and Senior Advisor to Deloitte AUTOMATION
  8. 8. AUTOMATION KEY TAKEAWAYS Intelligent automation isn’t an option, it’s mandatory. The question is whether you have the capabilities to not just use it, but also implement it across every aspect of your organisation and maximise the benefits. Accenture, 2015 Begin identifying the areas and processes where investment in automation would be beneficial, eg. labour-intensive processes, repetitive mundane tasks, or data-heavy applications. Keep an eye on the speed and direction automation is taking across industries. Develop a plan to build, buy and/or support your automation capabilities. Continually build understanding on the implications automation could have on your employees – specifically for their skill development. A 'people first' approach is key to automation success.
  9. 9. 02 INTELLIGENT ASSISTANTS INTELLIGENT ASSISTANTS An intelligent assistant, IA, will notify you of the need to leave for your morning meeting (accessing your calendar, GPS, and traffic info). On your way the IA will serve you the agenda, along with the latest content/news relevant to your meeting. During the meeting any important voicemails you receive will be transcribed by the IA into text to be read on your device. During your meeting the IA would have also scheduled further meetings, and notified your colleagues of your imminent return. When back in the office your IA updates you on progress, important company news, and who's available in the workplace to collaborate with. While the daily workflow described on the left is not yet mainstream, it is very much in development. [IPsoft’s Amelia], a ‘virtual service-desk employee’ that learns on the job and can reply to email, answer phone calls and hold conversations, is being tested by several multinationals. The Economist, 2015
  10. 10. Of UK smart phone users say they are ready to integrate IDAs into their everyday work lives (Intel 2015) INTELLIGENT ASSISTANTS The development of IAs in the consumer world is very much in full swing. Apple has Siri, Microsoft has Cortana, Google has Google Now, and Facebook has Facebook M. The IA race is the one that all of the big tech players are trying to win. Why is this race so important? Well, because the big players are betting on the ultimate version of an IA being the sole way we all interact with the digital world. Gone will be standalone apps and web pages; instead everything will be connected – Internet of Everything – and plug-in to a single interface - the IA. INTELLIGENT ASSISTANTS INTELLIGENT ASSISTANTS 62%
  11. 11. INTELLIGENT ASSISTANTS KEY TAKEAWAYS We're not quite in the world of I,Robot just yet. However IAs look set to be the future of intelligent automation. IAs will take the form of sophisticated decision aware software that will sit on our smart devices. Mark Armstrong, 2015 VP Progress Software Therefore, based on a user's smart device interactions, along with an ecosystem of complex data sets, the IA will learn how to provide a personalised information experience; one that anticipates employees needs, delivering information and services when they need it, wherever they are. And doing so seamlessly – without instruction or obtrusion – across all of their devices. While the big tech players are trying to win the IA race, it is a race that has got many years left to run. The race enterprises should be trying to win is the race to figure out how to best manage and integrate large complex data sets, to ultimately create autonomous decision engines. Innovation and competitiveness are at risk for those who simply wait for the arrival of an all-encompassing enterprise IA.
  12. 12. 03 VIRTUAL REALITY VIRTUAL REALITY Virtual Reality (VR) technologies, such as Oculus Rift, blend the physical world with the virtual. So much so that users become immersed in an environment that feels real. It is a technology that offers huge opportunities in the workplace. Teleportation/VR conference calls: VR will allow people, who could be thousands of miles apart, to inhabit the same virtual environment together. Also, developments in mapping users facial expressions onto human avatars looks set to create more convincing virtual social interactions. Training: Virtual situations could be created that are more engaging and cost effective. Dangerous environments could be replicated for employees to develop their skills within; and access to teachers and conferences, for multiple workers, would be possible. Data: VR could deliver data that you can visualise and manipulate in 3D, with co-workers from around the world – improving collaboration, efficiency and innovation. The feeling of being in a relevant location amongst colleagues will improve the connectedness and engagement of remote workers – helping to take virtual working and collaboration to the next level. Immersive technologies therefore appear to be the next logical step on from current workplace mobility. Particularly so given Mark Zuckerberg (who acquired Oculus Rift for $2bn) is a fan. Immersive virtual and augmented reality will become a part of people’s everyday life. (Mark Zuckerberg, 2015) KEY TAKEAWAYS
  13. 13. 04 WEARABLES 94% of professionals that own or plan to purchase a wearable device want to use it for work (Mobile Iron, 2015) WEARABLES Organisations should start identifying the tasks and processes that require brief employee interactions or could be improved if the employees were hands free. Avoid creating apps just for the sake of it. An app must help to increase employee engagement, productivity, or operational efficiency. KEY TAKEAWAYS Smart glasses – eg Google Glass – allow users to interact with or record information hands-free, offering clear safety and productivity benefits. Smart Watches – eg Apple Watch – allow for improved filtering of information. An employee can ensure they only receive notifications when the information really concerns them and with a single glance can make decisions and take actions in a seamless, unobtrusive manner. Tracking project progress, receiving key updates from community, or getting the latest sales figures, just some of the features leading smart watch apps, such as SalesForce are focussing on. Trackers allow organisations to monitor employee activity, whether for location or security. Organisations need to begin planning for the end-user demand of wearables in the workplace.
  14. 14. GENERATIONAL SHIFT 05-07
  15. 15. 05 EMPLOYEE STRENGTH EMPLOYEE STRENGTH The millennial generation, born between 1980 and 2000 now entering employment in vast numbers, will shape the world of work for years to come. Attracting the best of these millennial workers is critical to the future of your business. Their career aspirations, attitudes about work, and knowledge of new technologies will define the culture of the 21st century workplace. Respondents to the survey also stated that the most-often named root cause of talent and skills shortages is generational: Newer generations are less interested in traditional roles and see themselves as free agents (trend 6). The scarcity of people with skills required for emerging roles is perceived as the most critical market shortage. Millennials at work – reshaping the workplace PWC, 2012 In KPMG's Global 2014 HR Centre of Excellence Survey, the majority of respondents agreed that there is a new war for talent, and this war is different from those of the past.
  16. 16. EMPLOYEE STRENGTH Employees are also displaying signs of strength from within the organisation. Knowledge workers (KWs) have been largely responsible for driving the digital transformation of the workplace, to satisfy their need for improving collaboration, innovation and mobility, ultimately to access and manage information better, so they can do their job more productively. Cisco, 2013 KWs desire to share information freely within an organisation has also forced many organisations to do away with traditional ‘command and control’ hierarchical structures, resulting with many organisations now operating flat, open structures. Way back in 1992, in an Essay for Harvard Business Review, Peter Drucker declared that: Increasing the productivity of knowledge workers was the most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st century. Yet, more than 20 years later, it can be said that management has played a very small role in helping increase the productivity of KWs. KWs' strength alone has been the biggest driver of change.
  17. 17. Organisations can also use the strength of employees to their own advantage by investing more heavily in employee advocacy programs. Employee advocacy programs allow organisations to take advantage of their employees' own networks, allowing company content to reach a larger audience with a greater influence. However, the days of organisations simply telling employees to share a certain piece of content, to best shape the public views of the company, look to be over. Employees will become a lot more involved in the process, by not only identifying the types of content they and other employees should be sharing, but by also creating their own content for the organisation to share too. It means both the employee and the organisation will be advocating for each other. A win-win situation. Not only does this help to create an authentic view of the organisation, but it helps build the brand of each employee – something that is important for workers in the gig economy (trend 6). Employees continue to be the most credible and highly trusted sources of company information EMPLOYEE STRENGTH Edelman, 2015
  18. 18. KEY TAKEAWAYS In order to attract and recruit top talent, organisations will need to strengthen their employer brand – focussing on the values which align with those of potential employees, such as flexibility, career progression and innovative workplace technologies. Furthermore, organisations must cultivate the right culture, and focus on the practice of employee engagement, in order to maximise the ability and productivity of employees and keep them for as long as possible. Organisations need to better support the needs of knowledge workers by making it easier for them to access information from all areas of the organisation. Otherwise, innovation and business success are jeopardised. Employee advocacy needs to evolve, whereby employees are not just the sharers but the creators of content too. EMPLOYEE STRENGTH
  19. 19. 06 THE GIG ECONOMY
  20. 20. THE GIG ECONOMY New generations will continue to drive the gig economy. These groups are motivated by having a sense of purpose and achieving work/life balance, something that they believe being their own boss allows them to achieve. They are also very open to jumping from job to job. The new generations absence of loyalty can be seen in figure.3 below, with 44% not expecting to stay in a job for longer than two years, and only 16% of millennials expecting to still be in the same job a decade from now. Therefore even permanent jobs can be viewed as gigs. The UK freelancers’ association IPSE said that at the end of 2014 there were 1.88m independent professionals working in the UK, a 35 per cent jump from 2008. Financial Times, 2015 The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey Figure 3. Percentage who expect to leave in the next:
  21. 21. But... the gig economy offers organisations big benefits too. Organisations can be more agile and flexible, allowing them to boost or cut their staffing levels in accordance with changing demand. Simply, talent is moving from a fixed cost to a variable cost. Also a greater pool of talent, and availability of in-demand skills means specialist skills can be accessed and brought in for short-term projects easily and cost effectively. The gig economy is also being fuelled by technology platforms, such as Upwork and Profinder that allow freelancers and employers to more easily connect with one another. Rich collaborative tools such as Slack, and productivity apps such as Trello are also making it far easier for freelancers to work remotely and collaboratively with organisations. Entrepreen Although not all of the UK’s self employed and micro businesses will require coworking space, these groups incorporate millions of people and the scale of their growth means many of them will contribute to future demand for more flexible working environments. The Coworking Revolution, 2015 Coworking spaces and work friendly coffee shops have also assisted the gig economy. THE GIG ECONOMY
  22. 22. While entrepreneurs create and start businesses, intrapreneurs build, grow and sustain businesses. Intrapreneurs can help large organisations keep up with the fast pace of new market opportunities, by adopting a startup mentality. Yet amazingly, many large organisations still fail to recognise the importance of intrapreneurship, instead simply letting it go quietly unnoticed behind the scenes, without any structure in place to support it. Consequently this ‘corporate way of doing things’ means many innovative, entrepreneurial employees are left feeling frustrated. As a result, top talent is leaving large organisations to either work on their own projects or to join start-ups. Building an intraprenuerial culture in 2016 is vital, for two key reasons: 1. Innovation is now the most important factor for business growth and success. Intrapreneurs are those who drive innovation within an organisation. 2. Organisations risk not only losing top innovative talent, but failing to attract it too. Intrapreneurship provides the platform on which innovation can be built and developed – achieved through the idea of employees acting like entrepreneurs INSIDE of a large organisation. THE GIG ECONOMY Even full time employees are looking to satisfy their need for gig work, by undertaking projects at work that are outside of their daily duties – known as intrapreneurship: Deloitte Digital, 2015
  23. 23. Organisations must attract freelancers in order to compete. Organisations not only need to make themselves more attractive to freelance talent, but they need to ensure that they have the right tools and processes in place to efficiently manage the new freelance ways of working. A long-standing bargain made between employees and employers is how: Employees gave loyalty and the organisation gave security Daniel Pink, What motivates us at work, 2012 It’s an arrangement that perhaps looks set to be absent from the future of work, as freelancing looks set to increase in popularity for individuals and organisations alike. THE GIG ECONOMY KEY TAKEAWAYS
  24. 24. 07 NEW WORK-LIFE BALANCE The future of the working world is not striving for work-life balance. Instead, integrating work into your life, and life into your work, is the answer. Today’s organisations need to give their employees the ability to work where, when, and how they want. Doing so will not only give employees greater personal satisfaction, but also yield higher levels of productivity too. Work-life balance is out, work-life integration is in. KEY TAKEAWAYS There was a time when the boundaries between work and home life were pretty clear. Today, keeping the two completely separate in order to maintain a clear work-life balance is not easy. For most, it's almost impossible. Instead of fighting for the separation, Stewart Friedman (The former head of Ford Motor’s Leadership Development Centre) believes everyone should: Integrate the different parts of their lives to reinforce and enhance each other
  26. 26. 08 EVOLUTION OF INTERNAL COMMS We are witnessing the rebirth of internal communications. Moving from purely the communicating of internal information to shaping the digital experience of work. Digital Workplace Group, 2015 The arrival of new generations and new technologies into the workplace is changing the way everyone works with each other. And it is falling upon the IC function to act as the support structure for many of the organisations new working requirements. In short, IC functions will be those responsible for facilitating all of the different types of digital interactions and conversations in the workplace. Based around three key areas.
  27. 27. 1. Collaboration IC will help employees, managers and teams to improve the way they work together, by educating and training them on the best and most appropriate digital collaboration tools. Vital because: One such new technology is Slack; an internal messaging app that has al- ready earned the title of the 'fastest growing app ever' (Forbes, 2015). Social networking and instant messaging apps are becoming the communication channel of choice due to the way they better replicate natural ‘in the moment’ conversations, and provide a level of collaboration (sharing/retrieval of knowledge) that email simply can’t match – proving to be the complete antithesis to email. 160 Average number of emails sent by one worker in one day 2-4 hours Time spent on email each work day by the average employee The Grossman Group, 2012 Improved communication and collaboration through new social technologies could raise the productivity of interaction workers by 20 to 25 percent. McKinsey Global Institute EVOLUTION OF INTERNAL COMMS
  28. 28. 2. Information management IC will continue to create and distribute content, but the way in which they do so will be transformed. Gone will be the days of static Intranets that act as dumping grounds for information destined to never be read. Instead the intranet will be revitalised and IC will take advantage of the new digital channels to repurpose content accordingly – providing employees with the opportunity to filter information relevant to them, much like they do in the consumer world when using social networking platforms. As touched upon within trend 5 – employee strength – organisations need to motivate employees to create their own content to be shared in and outside of the workplace and IC will be responsible for facilitating this process. The Intranet is set to become the front door into the wider digital workplace Paul Miller, 2015 EVOLUTION OF INTERNAL COMMS
  29. 29. 3. Data analysis IC will be required to look beyond surveys and questionnaires for when collecting employee data. Instead focus will be on capturing the vast array of valuable data that can be found in digital communications, such as within employee communities on social networks. This data can more effectively identify the issues that employees are citing as being detrimental or beneficial to engagement. Data analysis can also identify the influencers who can help amplify campaign communications. Identification of those with specific knowledge and expertise is also crucial in helping to nurture a 'learning organisation' – helping to connect employees with the knowledge and information they need. Crucially, IC will need to measure the success of IC programs and initiatives, to show leadership how IC is helping to achieve business goals. Properly designed and managed social media tools have great potential to harness the experiential dimension of the workplace to deliver relevant learning experiences that reflect both proven expertise within a function or industry and timely access to an organisation’s best thinking, wherever it might be. Accenture Skills Gap Study, 2015 EVOLUTION OF INTERNAL COMMS
  30. 30. KEY TAKEAWAYS Organisations should undertake an internal communications audit, to reveal the effectiveness of their current IC function, and also to identify the tools employees may be using that the IC function is not. Measure, measure, measure. Data is crucial for identifying best performing content, channels and employees. And for proving to leadership the effectiveness of the IC function. IC needs to support the development of community and connection within the organisation. Facilitate conversation between employees at every level and in every part of the organisation, increase learning and information gathering, and gather business intelligence. EVOLUTION OF INTERNAL COMMS
  31. 31. 09 THE NEW CIO 46% of CIOs now report to the CEO, highlighting the increasingly strategic role that IT plays in the corporate world. Driving business innovation Identifying opportunities for competitive differentiation Developing and refining business strategy Leading change efforts Developing new go-to-market strategies and tech 51% 41% 37% 35% 33% Figure.4 The activities CIOs would like to spend more time on in the next three to five years. The state of the CIO, 2016 The state of the CIO, 2016 Digital transformation is a priority for all organisations, with success being: highly dependent on a close and effective working relationship between the IT organisation and the lines of business IDC, 2015. Therefore CIOs will take responsibilty for the digital transformation, and in doing so will occupy one of the most crucial roles in the organisation.
  32. 32. THE NEW CIO As was shown in figure.4, CIOs want to move away from ‘managing and maintaining’ technology, so that they can free up their time to focus on higher-level strategic work. To do so, organisations will place more technology in the hands of managed service providers brought in via the cloud. Service providers will enable Enterprise IT to become more agile, allowing them to keep up to date with business innovation, as they will be free from costly legacy systems – crucial not just for achieving competitive advantage, but for survival. Integration of the services across the business will be an important element of the CIO role. The service of IT in an organisation will move from that of being a provider to that of integrator – which has lead many to suggest the CIO should now be the: Chief Integration Officer Deloitte University Press 2015
  33. 33. THE NEW CIO Successful CIOs will be those who empower, strategise, facilitate and integrate. Rather than sticking with their traditional approach of ‘provide and control’, CIOs will become the enablers of innovation across the organisation. CIOs, by working closely with lines of business, should be those responsible for: Identifying the parts of business that could be transformed by technology Keeping abreast of emerging technologies that could accelerate digital transformation Managing implementation of the new digital technologies KeyTakeaw ays
  34. 34. 10 CYBER SECURITY New technologies entering the workplace, often brought in by employees, offer huge business benefits, such as increases in productivity and mobility. But, for organisations, these can also represent a considerable security risk. IT departments, software and hardware companies are of course giving great attention to solving security problems. Mobile Device Management (MDM) is one such area helping to minimise the security issues that can arise from BYOD. But, somewhat frustratingly for IT security, is the fact that human errors are still the number one cause of data breaches (CompTIA’s Trends in Information Security). Lost devices, weak passwords, a lack of digital understanding and a general carelessness, are cited as some of the key reasons. KEY TAKEAWAYS Organisations need to invest in creating a security conscious culture. Security should be ingrained into every aspect of working life. Cyber security education and training will be crucial in 2016. Furthermore, organisations need to stay up to date on the latest innovations in security. Focussing on Wearables (trend 4) and other advanced mobile authentication technologies; eg facial recognition, fingerprint sensors.
  35. 35. CONCLUSION We stand on the verge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where only those organisations who build strong capabilities in automation, engaging a new generation of workers, and managing information effectively, will survive. Organisations need to act now by making short and long term plans to build the capabilities needed to capture the competitive advantages that are available in the future of work. One last parting piece of advice: 'people first.' That is the approach that all organisations should take when planning for the future. Cheers Jack & Lloyd ABOUT SKIM.IT is a digital tool that allows you to share and manage information more efficiently. Born out of a frustration of wasting time when sharing links and repurposing content. We use machine learning to transform digital content into a digestible format that is easier to share and consume on all devices. To find out even more, and to try for yourself, please visit
  36. 36. REFERENCES The future of work: A journey to 2022. 2014. Retrieved at What Peter Drucker Knew About 2020. Oct 16 2014. Retrieved at The Future of Business Collaboration. 2015. Retrieved at Internal communications predictions for 2015. Jan 9 2015. Retrieved at munications-predictions-2015 My 10 digital workplace predictions for 2016. Nov 19 2015. Retrieved at dictions-for-2016/ Machine Learning Reveals Employees’ Unrealized Skills. July 7 2014. Retrieved at ployees-unrealized-skills/ Top 12 Emerging Digital Workplace Technologies. Oct 8 2015. Retrieved at place-technologies/ The software secretaries. Sep 12 2015. Retrieved at gy-firms-are-competing-become-consumers-personal-secretaries-big-implications Putting free AI-driven services to work in your business. Sep 1 2015. Retrieved at business/ CIO Of The Future In One Word: Fast. Aug 9 2015. Retrieved at future-in-one-word-fast/a/d-id/1307006 The Great Generational Shift - Why the differences between generations will reshape your workplace. Oct 29 2014.Retrieved at bites-brochure-au-web?e=13443589/9618597. Trends in Information Security. Retrieved at information-security-study The rise of the Intraprenuer. Retrieved at rules-of-work/the-rise-of-the-intrapreneur Mobility as a strategy: Beyond BYOD, consumerisation of IT. Retrieved at sumerization/ AI Is About To Go Mainstream And Reshape The Workplace. Sep 29 2015. Retrieved at shape-the-workplace/#.rkrkiez:7w5D Next-Generation Knowledge Workers Accelerating the Disruption in Business Mobility. 2013. Retrieved at