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The Way We Were: Why the Future of Work Will Be So Different

Future Exit Sign 000018627375XSmallWe have just celebrated Memorial Day weekend in the United States. It has been an opportunity to reflect on our good fortune as a country, but more importantly to give thanks for the millions of servicemen and servicewomen who sacrificed their lives to protect us in way too many wars.

But this time of pausing and reflecting also got me thinking about how the working environments where most of us spend most of our waking hours have changed over the past twenty years – and will change even more going forward.

Those of us of a certain age can remember when our families sat down in front of the big box in our living rooms that brought us the 6 o’clock evening news. We shared that experience with our neighbors near and far; most of the country absorbed that information at the same time, and from one or the other of the three major networks that brought us all the television news and entertainment.

And most of us had one telephone somewhere in the front hall or living room; but we only used it for short, functional conversations with our neighbors and nearby relatives (calls were billed by the minute, after all). Once a year we might call a distant grandparent for a short “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Holidays” message; long distance calls were prohibitively expensive and the sound was often tinny and full of static.

In short, we didn’t have much choice in how we got our information or stayed in touch with out-of-town family and friends. Our world was relatively limited.

And the way we worked was very similar. Read more

Three Special Events

There are three important professional events coming up over the next couple of months that you should seriously consider attending. Here’s a quick overview of each of them, with links to where you can find more information and register to attend them.

WorkTech14 – New York City (May 15)

This one-day event sponsored by Unwired is one of about 20 similar gatherings that will take place in major cities all over the world in 2014. [continue reading...]

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

How Times Change

Sometimes we can learn a lot about the future of work by looking at the past.

Here’s a very brief video that reminds us of the subtle (and not so subtle) ways that new technologies change our work habits. Enjoy! And laugh with me.

(it’s only four seconds long, so look quickly – anyone over 50 should get it right away. [continue reading...]

Does Online Learning Dehumanize Education, or Just the Opposite?

I just found a fascinating video interview that Bill Moyers conducted with Isaac Asimov over 20 years ago.

Mr. Asimov completely understood what online search and research would be like once the Internet reached full maturity (which of course it has not yet fully achieved). In the video (below) Asimov describes his vision how each of us would be able to search for information or data based on our personal interests and needs–at the moment. [continue reading...]

The Future of. . . (June 2012)

Here is a small sample of the stories and developments we are paying attention to these days. It’s our way of helping you stay on top of developments in the worlds of technology, workplace and facilities design, the workforce, and work design—any and all of which are going to affect the future of work, often in ways we can’t even imagine.

“How office design affects employee morale and productivity”

This article (by Stephanie Fanger) in the latest issue of IFMA’s Facilities Management Journal begins with a brief history of office design and then focuses on efforts to link the workplace with workforce performance. I especially liked the two case studies (Glaxo Smith Kline and Procter & Gamble), and the closing table that lists the pros and cons of open and closed office environments. It’s a very useful summary of an important topic that remains elusive for too many facilities professionals (thanks to my colleague Marcus Bowen for catching this one).


“The Power of Networks”

My good friend and colleague Jessica Lipnack (one of the genuine pioneers in the field of remote/distributed teams and organizational networks; she and Jeff Stamps were teaching us how to lead distributed teams over 20 years ago) just found a fascinating video presentation on networks—at a very generic/conceptual level.

The link above is to a post on Jessica’s blog, Endless Knots, which in turn will take you to the presentation by Manuel Lima, the lead “user interface designer at Microsoft Bing.” It’s about 11 minutes long, and worth every minute. Very thought-provoking.


A Rising Tower

It may have been published in “Time for Kids” (Time Magazine), but it’s a story for all of us; the new One World Trade Center building has just passed 100 stories, and is already taller than the Empire State Building. It’s a real tribute to the fortitude of New York City (and the dreams of the building’s developer), and a proud symbol of a stubborn unwillingness to give in to terrorists. Now, the question is, who is going to lease all that space—and put themselves that high above the ground?


Talkin’ About Their Generations: The Workforce of the 50s and Today

Workforce Management magazine is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year with a series of articles tracing some of the history of the workforce and management. The April 26-28 issue contains a fascinating story of the workforce demographics of the 1950’s, with some important comparisons to the 2012 workforce. Issues like jobs, career progression, retirement, and women in the workforce were talked about 60 years ago, but as you might imagine, the comments were a whole lot different then than they are now.

Read more

The Future of . . . (March 2012)

This is a monthly newsletter feature:  a  collection of recent stories and news articles that have appeared elsewhere; this is our way of helping you stay on top of developments in the worlds of technology, workplace and facilities design, the workforce, and work design – any and all of which will likely affect the future of work, often in ways we can’t begin to imagine.

Randstad Inspires Future Leaders

Jim Ware recently had a very stimulating conversation with Kristin Kelley, Vice President of Marketing for Randstad, the second-largest HR services firm in the United States.

With so many workers today still finding it difficult to secure a job, it can be even more daunting for a young person to enter the working world. While some professional job openings are scarce, many industries, believe it or not, are actually having trouble finding the talent to fill open positions.

To help inspire and educate the next generation Randstad recently launched a new blog and website called Inspiring Experts (www.inspiringexperts.com).

Inspiring Experts will be an interactive portal designed to encourage and inspire young job seekers and professionals to explore careers in key industries where future job opportunities are expected to grow.

The blog will provide information and insight on current jobs in demand, top career trends and workplace advice, through traditional and emerging media channels.

Randstat has also sponsored a contest encouraging young leaders to submit personal video clips describing their goals, their career choices, and their experiences. The best clips receive significant scholarship awards from Randstad.  It’s a very compelling and well-named website. We encourage you to check it out.

Apple’s Impact on Silicon Valley

Whether or not you approve of Apple’s design for its own workplace of the future, it’s getting closer to reality every day. This article (“Apple growth helps fuel Silicon Valley office boom”)from the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday, March 9,  describes the status of Apple’s plans; but even more importantly it highlights the impact that Apple’s recent success and growth has had on Silicon Valley generally. For example, in 2011 Apple leased over a million square feet of office space in the city of Sunnyvale, reducing Sunnyvale’s vacancy rate by 50 percent.

Susan Cain at TED2012: Is Collaboration Overrated?

We are as upbeat about the power of collaboration as anyone we know, but when we came across this provocative report of a presentation by Susan Cain at TED2012, we stopped to think. Cain, a self-identified introvert, makes a strong case for the value of individual activity, including reading, writing, and even just thinking—alone. Here’s just one short excerpt from her call to action:

“End the madness of constant group-work.” (The audience applauds.) Offices need chatty conversations, and great spaces to make serendipitous interactions. But we need much more privacy, and more autonomy. The same is true — more true — for schools. Yes, teach kids to work together, but also how to work alone.

You can read a thorough elaboration of her “contrary” views at this link: “An introverted call to action: Susan Cain at TED2012.”

Read more

The Future of… (January 2012)

Here’s a small sample of the stories and developments we are paying attention to these days. Given the recent holiday season, it’s entirely possible that you missed some of these important ideas and events that offer clues about how the future of work is unfolding.

Click on any headline to go to the original source.

The IBM 5 in 5: Our Forecast of Five Innovations That Will Change the Tech landscape Within Five Years (SmarterPlanet Blog)
 

My colleague and business partner Paul Carder caught this one. [continue reading...]

Future of Work Agenda Newsletter: November/December 2010

This is the November/December 2010 issue of our free monthly newsletter, Future of Work Agenda. We welcome comments on any of these articles. You can also access the newsletter directly on our website, at this link.

“Two roads diverged in a wood. . .” (Robert Frost)

Believe it or not, this is the 100th issue of Future of Work Agenda. [continue reading...]

Future of Work Agenda Newsletter: October 2010

This is the October 2010 issue of our free monthly newsletter, Future of Work Agenda. We welcome comments on any of these articles. You can also access the newsletter directly on our website, at this link.

It’s often said that it’s darkest before dawn. But we like to pay more attention to the “early light” that always precedes sunrises. [continue reading...]