The workplace of the future

Bob O'Donnell

Posts: 7   +0
Staff member
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&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;To no one’s surprise, how and where we work matters to people. Not just the company you work for, but the physical environment, the culture, the people, and the tools you use to get things done.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;Intuitively, that’s obvious of course, but when you start to dig into exactly what it is that people do at work, where they work and what they use, you start to see a fascinating picture of current workplaces—as well as where they’re headed.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;That was exactly the intention of the latest TECHnalysis Research study—fielded to over 1,000 US employees across a range of industries during the past week—and I’m pleased to report that the results do not disappoint.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;At a high level, people only spend about 46% of their average 43-hour work week in a traditional office or cubicle environment. We’ve been witnessing a shift away from those workspaces for a long time, but the move is likely to accelerate as most workers believe that the percentage will drop to just under 41% in two years.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;What’s surprising, however, is that the biggest increase won’t be coming from trendy new alternative workspaces or other non-traditional worksites. Instead, it’s working at home. Toiling in your PJs (or whatever attire you choose to wear at home) is expected to jump from 11% of the total work week to 16% in two years.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;Directly related is the growing importance of work time flexibility. In fact, when asked to rank the importance of a company’s tech-initiatives that keep employees happy and productive at work, the number one choice on a rating of eight alternatives was work time flexibility.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;Not surprisingly, when people were asked in a separate question about the benefits of working at home, the top reason they cited was—you guessed it—work time flexibility.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;Clearly, the move to mobile computing devices, more cloud-based applications, and internal IT support for enabling work from remote locations has had a large impact on employee’s expectations about how, when, and where they can work, and, well, there’s no place like home.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p class=&amp;amp;quot;side-quote&amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;gt;The move to mobile computing devices, cloud-based applications, and internal IT support for enabling work from remote locations has had a large impact on employee’s expectations about how, when, and where they can work, and, well, there’s no place like home.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;From a collaboration perspective, there have been a number of advancements around both software and hardware being used in various workplaces. As expected, usage of these various tools is mixed and interest for them can vary quite a bit by age. At a basic level, for example, email is still the top means of collaboration with both co-workers (39% of total communications) and outside contacts (34%), with phone calls second (25% and 32% respectively) and texting third (12% for both groups). Among 18-24-year old millennial workers at medium-sized companies (100-999 employees), however, social media with outside contacts was 12% of all communications versus only 6% for the total sample.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;Collaborative messaging tools like Slack and Facebook’s Workplace still showed only modest usage at 4% overall, but again 18- to 24-year old millennials at medium sized-companies nearly doubled that usage at about 7.5%. More importantly, while 1/3 of total respondents said their companies offered a persistent chat tool like Slack, another 31% said they wished their companies did.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;From a hardware perspective, 32% of employees said their companies had large interactive screens in their conference rooms (a la Microsoft’s Surface Hub, which the company just announced was being well received in the market) and another 31% are hoping to see something like that installed at their workplaces sometime soon.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;Interestingly, the videoconferencing aspect of these and other devices also drew some distinct, age-based responses. About 25% of total respondents said they used video the vast majority of the time when making an audioconference call, but that jumped to nearly 40% for younger workers (under 44) at medium-sized companies. The group that found video more effective during meetings was actually the 35-44 group, both in medium and large-sized companies. In each case the Gen X and Gen Y’ers in that group found it more useful than both the younger and older employees.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;Finally, one insight from the study highlights an IoT opportunity in today’s workplace. A technology that was widely requested was an app or service that would allow workers to individually adjust their personal work area’s temperature and airflow. While that could be challenging to achieve, there’s clearly an interest for companies willing to tackle it.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;Today’s workspaces are in an interesting state of flux, with a lot of attention being placed on attracting and retaining younger workers. While data from this study clearly supports some of those efforts, the results also show that many of the more traditional methods of communication and collaboration still play a dominant role—even with younger workers. As companies move to evolve their workplaces and vendors adjust to create products and services for these new environments, it’s important to keep these basics in mind.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />
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&amp;amp;lt;p class=&amp;amp;quot;grey&amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;gt;Bob O’Donnell is the founder and chief analyst of &amp;amp;lt;a href=&amp;amp;quot;http://www.technalysisresearch.com/&amp;amp;quot; target=&amp;amp;quot;_blank&amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;gt;TECHnalysis Research, LLC&amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;gt; a technology consulting and market research firm. You can follow him on Twitter &amp;amp;lt;a href=&amp;amp;quot;https://twitter.com/bobodtech&amp;amp;quot; rel=&amp;amp;quot;author&amp;amp;quot; target=&amp;amp;quot;_blank&amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;gt;@bobodtech&amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;gt;. This article was originally published on &amp;amp;lt;a href=&amp;amp;quot;https://techpinions.com/the-workplace-of-the-future/48254&amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;gt;Tech.pinions&amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;gt;.&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;lt;a rel='alternate' href='https://www.techspot.com/news/67384-workplace-future.html' target='_blank'&amp;amp;gt;Permalink to story.&amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;lt;p class='permalink'&amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;lt;a rel='alternate' href='https://www.techspot.com/news/67384-workplace-future.html'&amp;amp;gt;https://www.techspot.com/news/67384-workplace-future.html&amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;lt;/div&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;/div&amp;gt;&lt;/div&gt;</div>
 

MarkHughes

Posts: 254   +197
I have been working from home for 4 years now, It has it's good and bad points but for people who can't travel its a great way to maintain independence.

Though people at the company work from home often it's not as common as these finding would suggest in this case, In fact many people seem to enjoy the office and interacting directly with other people there.
 

GreenNova343

Posts: 440   +330
I would find these figures more convincing if, instead of an average that included every single office job, they actually provided a breakdown by industry. Because let's face it, there are jobs where you are pretty much required to do the majority of your "office" job outside of an office, there are jobs where you can do some of the duties outside of the office (although it requires additional equipment & planning), & there are jobs where you can't perform your duties anywhere except in the office (or, more often than not, you're not allowed to do them anywhere except at the office).

Heck, right off the bat we have that whole "43 hour average work week" thing. First of all, a significant number of us do not work in jobs that allow for overtime, or at least require prior authorization for overtime...which means we *never* work more than 40 hours a week. Second, there is a *big* difference between people who work overtime & are getting paid for it, people who "choose" (even if they feel forced to do so) to work overtime because their "paid on commission" job is based on how many sales they make (I.e. John Smith and Jack Palmer work in the same office, & both average 20 sales a week, but John manages to make his sales by Wednesday & has the option of either staying home the rest of the week or just kicking back & relaxing at work, while Jack ends up working 60 hours a week just to make those sales), versus someone who gets paid a fixed salary (whether they're there 20 hours or 80 hours that week) -- I.e. management -- but have to stay as long as their job duties aren't complete. And third, as I mentioned before, certain industries are going to be more likely to see overtime (whether optional or mandated), so including their work weeks in with industries where overtime is rare or unavailable skews the data.

And then, of course, there's the job duties themselves. Yes, telecommuting (which is what we used to call "using a mobile office") is a possibility for *some* jobs in *some* industries...but it doesn't work in *every* job in *every* industry. Sometimes you may even find jobs that look similar & have similar/identical job duties, but because they're in different industries telecommuting may not be available as an option...or even desireable.

And that brings up the other factor: security. It seems like you can't turn on the TV or pull up a news website anymore without hearing about another retailer, bank, hospital, medical testing lab, or government agency announcing their user/account database has been hacked. And those are just the hacks where the hackers have gotten through the primary company networks. Could you imagine, for example, the kind of windfall a hacker could obtain if banks started having their check processing performed "at home" by employees? Even with VPN access, the bank would still run the risk of the employees' personal PCs being infected (keyloggers, viruses, other malware, etc.) that could easily capture the customers' financial information, & probably much more easily than on the bank's own computer systems.

And no, from my experience most companies are very reluctant to provide telecommute/work-at-home employees with corporate-owned equipment unless they truly have no choice (I.e. field inspectors/auditors).

As for more & more jobs becoming 'office jobs"...there's always going to be someone that has to clean the toilets, someone who has to stock the breakroom vending machines, someone who has to pour the concrete for the buildings (even if it's just the buildings to house the server farms), someone who has to pour/patch the asphalt that your vehicle/mass transit vehicle/bicycle travels over to get to work, someone who has to repair the power lines when a storm brings them down, someone who has to repair sewer & water lines when they freeze and/or rupture, someone who has to install & fix the electrical wiring to allow you to have unfettered charging access for your mobile devices, etc. Heck, someone has to make the twisted pair Ethernet cables, the electrical wiring, the generator systems in the power plants, the concrete that will be mixed & poured into the foundations, drill & pump the oil that gets turned into asphalt, mine the metals & rare earth minerals for your consumer & office electronics, & all of the other things that go into the infrastructure. When was the last time you heard of someone that built their home completely from scratch...& by "from scratch", I mean they manufactured their own cement mix *before* adding the water so that they could pour their foundation; they dug the metal ore out of the ground, refined it themselves, & then spun it out into the electrical & network wiring for their house; cast & molded by hand the plastic & metal parts that they then used to assemble & install all of their household appliances (including water heater, furnace & AC); produced the metal & PVC pipes that bring water to their sinks & bathroom; cut down themselves the trees that they turned into the framework of their house; mined the gypsum that they used to make the drywall; assembled & mixed the chemicals needed to make their own paint so that they didn't just have grey/white & spackle-colored walls; manufactured themselves the flooring (carpet, hardwood, or laminate, their choice) they then installed? I'm not even going to bother with the consumer electronics or vehicles, because you see the point: there will *always* be jobs that can't be replaced by "office" jobs, & there will *always* be jobs that, for one reason or another, will require the employee to leave their house & go work on-site.
 

Bigtruckseries

Posts: 583   +320
My Desktop and monitor are roughly the same volume they were 20 years ago - with the exception that my monitor's depth has evolved into width.

Laptops and tablets have gotten significantly smaller thanks to APPLE.
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,288
How are you going to weld or pipe fit in this envirnment
That all depends on your position in that company. If you're one of the bigwigs you scare up a subordinate on the blower while lying prone in your bed and simply order them to get their butts into gear but if you're one of those unfortunate lackey's... you won't see any change in the workplace for a very long time.
 

spydercanopus

Posts: 860   +146
Working from anywhere is limited in the US because of slow broadband speeds.

I have clients who would jump on the idea if it didn't take 15 minutes to open a 300MB file.
 

OcelotRex

Posts: 558   +302
Working from anywhere is limited in the US because of slow broadband speeds.

I have clients who would jump on the idea if it didn't take 15 minutes to open a 300MB file.
Some reports have the US broadband speed average at nearly 55 Mbps. Even assuming 80% of that speed due to traffic/latency/etc. 300MB takes less than 1 minute to download. (55Mpbs = 6.785 MBps * 80% = 5.5 MBps).

I'd argue that those who work from home have that speed or greater in general.
 

MarkHughes

Posts: 254   +197
Some reports have the US broadband speed average at nearly 55 Mbps. Even assuming 80% of that speed due to traffic/latency/etc. 300MB takes less than 1 minute to download. (55Mpbs = 6.785 MBps * 80% = 5.5 MBps).

I'd argue that those who work from home have that speed or greater in general.
And in general I would also argue that very high speed isn't needed by everyone (in my line of work at least)

I'm in the UK and until recently only had 17Mbps and it was no problem to work from home, It simply meant a short wait on a large pull request or it taking a bit longer to download our daily build of 700MB. What you do is plan ahead so you have what you need when you need it. I'm not sure why people think your internet has to be blazing fast to work from home. I'm on nearly 40Mbps now and it doesn't make a huge difference tbh. I guess using the slower connection for a while taught me good habits :)
 

OcelotRex

Posts: 558   +302
What you do is plan ahead so you have what you need when you need it.

I guess using the slower connection for a while taught me good habits :)
You're right - planning ahead and using good habits are necessary for remote working. Sadly these are two trait not common in most workplaces.

I did the calc on 17Mbps and 700 MB and it's at most 6-7 minutes. That's a coffee/bathroom break or quick phone call.
 

MarkHughes

Posts: 254   +197
You're right - planning ahead and using good habits are necessary for remote working. Sadly these are two trait not common in most workplaces.

I did the calc on 17Mbps and 700 MB and it's at most 6-7 minutes. That's a coffee/bathroom break or quick phone call.
That would be on a very good day with a tail wind :) Our VPN slows things down a little and even the time of day seems to alter download speeds sometimes.

I just catch up on admin or do preparation for the job I was downloading the code for. But yes, Sometimes a walk round and a hot drink helps break the day up too :) And we are encouraged to do so each hour.
 
How are you going to weld or pipe fit in this envirnment
The article is clearly talking about office jobs. Which are becoming a larger portion of jobs.
Is it? Or is this wishfull thinking from your side? Jobs most threatened by robots is those of the office people. Take for instance banking employees. Or Insurance companies. Huge employers 15 years ago. Dumping large amounts of people year after year now.