Smartphones and Workplaces, Oh My!

My most recent “Talking About Tomorrow” hosted conversation was deep into a fascinating discussion about the “consumerization” of the workplace, when one of the participants commented “I think the smartphone has had a bigger impact on the workplace than the laptop ever did.”

Really? Hasn’t the laptop practically replaced the standard desktop computer, reduced space requirements, cut costs, and enabled millions of workers to work almost anywhere? How could a mobile phone even dream of having as dramatic an impact on the way we work?

Stay with me for a moment.

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Is the Future of Work Hidden in Germany?

Over that past five years the United States has lived with high unemployment that rivals what this country experienced during the Great Depression. As we all hear in the news almost daily, there are now millions of long-term unemployed, many of whose jobs have disappeared and will most likely never return.

However, the picture in Germany today is very different. As New York Times op-ed contributor Glenn Hutchins observes:

In 2009, Germany suffered a more precipitous drop in gross domestic product than the United States, but it experienced almost no change in unemployment.

(see “Work Like a German,” March 14, 2014)

While unemployment almost doubled in the United States after the Wall Street meltdown, in Germany it hardly budged. Today German unemployment is actually lower than it was before the “Great Recession” and – even more impressively – long-term unemployment is virtually non-existent. How could that be? Read more

R-E-S-P-E-C-T is the Key to the Future of Work

With a bow to Aretha Franklin, our focus this week is on the central role that Respect will play in the future of work.

I have emphasized the importance of Wellness and Wellbeing in the workplace over the last several newsletter issues, largely because my “Talking About Tomorrow” members have been actively exploring the topic in our recent monthly conference calls [links to those articles are here (Part One), and here (Part Two), and here (Part Three)].

Our conversation earlier this month brought that focus to a very personal level as we shared our own tips and techniques for coping with the emergence of what increasingly feels like a 24×7 work week.

We began the March conversation by visiting with Rebecca Scott of Sodexo, who compiled and edited Sodexo’s recent Workplace Trends 2014 report. Read more

Wellness and Wellbeing – Part Three

This article continues the conversation that began with the first “Wellness and Wellbeing” note in late February and continued with “Wellness and Wellbeing-Part Two” last week.

Here we focus on some differences between the United States and Europe in dealing with wellness and wellbeing. If you have not read the first two parts of this series I encourage you to click on the links above and spend a few minutes catching up with the beginning of this conversation (which took place on February 6, 2014) as part of my monthly “Talking About Tomorrow” series.

Erik Jaspers [Planon]: First, I must say I was a little surprised about the short conversation about Medicare and putting that in the perspective of wellness and wellbeing. I’m from Europe, and we don’t have this conversation, and certainly not in that context.

I have a question because I’m a newcomer in this area. How would you go about measuring results or determining the effectiveness of what you’ve been trying to achieve in these types of projects? How do you measure wellness in the larger context of an organization? Read more

Wellness and Wellbeing in the Workplace

This article marks the beginning of a slight change in my Future of Work Agenda newsletter publishing plans. Some time ago I simplified the newsletter format, sharing a single thought piece with you about once a month. Now I am committing to a more frequent schedule, with the goal of condensing my rants and ramblings to an even shorter format (and I have also integrated the newsletter more tightly with the blog).

What follows here is the first post of a three-part series on Wellness and Wellbeing in the Workplace. Look for Part Two a week from now.

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As some of you know, I host a monthly “Talking About Tomorrow” conversation with about twenty very smart thought leaders and practitioners. We have common interests in the changing nature of work, the workforce, and the workplace – and how to manage the future of work. We exchange ideas, concerns, and visions of the future as a way of keeping all of us sharp and well-informed.

Recently we spent an hour together (virtually, of course) exploring wellness and well-being in the workplace. It’s a topic that is getting a lot of well-deserved attention in many places these days. There’s no way I can adequately summarize the totality of that conversation, but I’d like to share some of the highlights here.

Thus, this is the first of several “chapters” in that particular conversation. What follows is an edited synopsis of what I found to be the most interesting comments and questions raised by several of the group members (all of those quoted here have granted me permission to share their contributions to the conversation). Read more

Creating Through Collaboration

In December I described the difficulty (and the risks) of attempting to predict the future more than a few years out. This month I am going to ignore my own good advice and speculate a bit about where we might be heading. However, I’m hedging my bet by relying on a comment by science fiction writer William Gibson: “The future is already here – it just isn’t evenly distributed.”

So my predictions about tomorrow are built solidly on several “signals” we can see right now, today.

I will start by referring you to a very powerful TED talk by Don Tapscott, a well-known futurist, author, and insightful thinker. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to spend 18 minutes listening to Tapscott’s “Four Principles for the Open World.”

The talk was delivered in Edinburgh, Scotland, in June of 2012. As of January 2014 it had been viewed almost 65,000 times. Read more

What Will the Future of Work Look Like?

As a self-proclaimed workplace futurist I get asked all the time “What will the future of work really look like?” And it’s an appropriate question to contemplate at the end of the year, which is always filled with both looking back and looking forward.

But rather than pretend that I can tell you anything definitive about the future of work, instead I  want to offer some observations about why predictions of any kind are difficult, and could even be dangerous.

Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

At home my wife and I have a “simplistic” refrigerator magnet that keeps us on our toes:

Think about it; each of us creates the future one moment at a time, one day at a time, every day.

The future unfolds as a global group exercise in decision-making, learning, and responding to other people and external events. Each day and every event comes into being as a complex combination of natural occurrences, millions of
individual choices, and secondary responses to
what has just happened.

Of course there are many recurring patterns and experiences that we can anticipate reasonably well even 10 or 20 years in advance. The American humorist Mark Twain reportedly once said “History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” Read more

The Future of the Workplace

IFMA Spain held a Facilities/Workplace Summit in Madrid on the 3rd of October. The principal organizer of the conferece, Francisco Vazquez Medem, asked me to submit some advance commentary on the future of the workplace (I could not attend in person, as I was participating actively in World Workplace 2013 in Philadelphia).

I sent Francisco and the Madrid attendees this brief video comment, now available on YouTube:

I would love to hear your reactions and further comments. [continue reading...]

One Size Misfits All

Variety is the spice of life. Indeed, variety and individuality is the essence of human existence. As some long-forgotten pundit once put it, “If God wanted us all to be the same, (S)he would have made us all look alike.”

So let’s get it straight right away: there is no one “best” way to design an office, or even an individual workspace.

I was reminded of this often-ignored truism once again this week when a client sent me a recent article from the Chicago Grid, a business weekly publication based, not surprisingly, in Chicago, Illinois. (and featuring local companies in its stories).

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Flexible work remains a hot topic…and the conversation continues

It’s almost impossible to keep up with the global debate on telecommuting and flexible work these days. As my good friend and colleague Chris Hood of CBRE put it recently, “Marissa Mayer [CEO of Yahoo!] has done all of us who believe in flexible working a big favor.”

More people than ever are talking about it, debating it, and thinking about the pros and cons of requiring people to come to the office (or enabling them to work from other locations, including their homes). [continue reading...]