AT&T Prepares for a New World of Work: The Changing Work Force (Part 2)

In 2011 a team of AT&T information technology, human resources and real estate professionals came together to create Workplace 2020, a blueprint to transform the company’s work environment. Here, in the second of three comments on Workplace 2020, Chris Mach talks about how the dynamics of the changing workforce help make the new workplace possible—and necessary.

New technology helps make the flexible workplace possible, but the workers who use that technology make it succeed. Most workers today are comfortable in a work-anywhere world.  In fact, many wouldn’t have it any other way. Meeting their expectations will be key to winning and retaining talent.

The workforce is evolving. More Gen X and Millennial (Gen Y) workers are joining workers of the Baby Boom generation. By 2020 the AT&T workforce will include roughly equal numbers of all three groups. Regardless of what stage of life they are in, they all appreciate and value workplace flexibility. And they’re comfortable with the technology that makes it possible. But differences do exist.


Boomers may see their company as central to their success, but younger workers often focus more on personal matters like their personal career progress (most will work for multiple employers during their careers), their entire social network, and questions of social responsibility, wellness, and meaningful work. They want to be included in decisions—not just those that impact their careers, but that affect the direction of the company and the world.

AT&T’s Workplace 2020 program has taken these workforce factors into account when planning for our workplace of the future.

As workforce dynamics continue to shift, we expect flexibility to become an even more important factor in attracting and retaining talent. It’s a question of numbers. As the Boomer generation ages, more and more will consider leaving the business. The number of AT&T employees eligible to retire will more than double, from 19 percent in 2011 to 41 percent in 2015. But who will replace them?

By 2015, nine out of ten new hires will come from Gen X and Y. But a limited supply of qualified job seekers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) means competition for new talent will be fierce. Sourcing of the talent needed may likely come from outside the U.S.

One key to averting a talent gap is encouraging experienced workers to stick around. By 2020, one worker in five will be 55 or older. A welcoming workplace that fosters collaboration and teamwork, while allowing personal flexibility, will help us attract new workers, and retain more experienced ones.

Understanding these dynamics, the Workplace 2020 team came up with these ideas to support tomorrow’s hyper-connected workforce:

  • Employ staff based on talent, regardless of location.
  • Provide employees more control over work-life balance to where it becomes work-life blend.
  • Provide choices for when, where and how people work. Not everyone has to go mobile and not everyone should. Let’s outfit and provision our talent correctly with workplace technology, tools and policies to help them work best.
  • Create a sense of community that encourages collaboration and innovation. Community and engagement—especially engagement—are central in building better workplace.

At AT&T we are excited about the promise and opportunities of this dynamic workforce and are paying careful attention to prepare for the highest level of employee engagement and satisfaction.

What talent challenges lie on the horizon for your organization?  What can be done today to best engage this new and dramatically different workforce?
Chris Mach Global Workplace Strategist AT&T About Chris