The Workplace of Tomorrow is Here – and There

Russ McFadden is the VP of Asset Management & Transactions at AT&T. He has written the following guest post for the Networking Exchange Blog.

On college campuses, in corporate high rises, home offices and coffee shops nationwide, a workplace revolution is brewing–just take a look at this infographic. People are upending yesterday’s assumptions about where, when and how the job gets done.

At the heart of this movement is anyone who uses a laptop, tablet or smart phone to engage with customers, suppliers and co-workers. You will find them, and their workplaces, almost everywhere.

Faced with changing business needs and the evolving expectations of workers and customers, employers are creating a new kind of workplace. The goal is to give people the flexibility they want in when, where and how they do their jobs.

This change has been coming for years. Early cell phones made it possible to stay in touch from the road; you could log into the corporate network from your home computer. Today, millions of workers carry communication and computing power unheard of back then, in a pocket-size smart phone.  Of the 75 million information workers in the U.S. today, 29% are defined as “hyper” or heavily connected, working from both the office and on the road. These workers are relaying on mobile devices and collaboration tools as never before.

As a technology provider and a global employer, AT&T is deeply engaged in this transition. In 2011 we created Workplace 2020, a blueprint to transform our company’s work environment.

The key consideration for businesses looking to transition their workforce to a virtual model is not so much where you work, but how effectively.  Can you easily engage with team members—within or outside your business—to communicate, solve problems and brainstorm new ideas? Technology is important, but it’s just one ingredient. Leaders need to provide the structure to support the new workplace. Tools and technology must mesh with new business processes and metrics, as well as organizational culture and values, to make the new, flexible workplace successful.

To understand the “anywhere” workplace, AT&T started with its building blocks:

  • New information tools—Tablets, laptops and smart phones networked into corporate resources give workers multiple ways to gather data, communicate and collaborate. We expect to see these tools converge farther toward a single “do-it-all” design. “Cloud” resources will supercharge mobile devices with tremendous power to store and analyze information.
  • A new kind of worker—Job market dynamics also favor the flexible workplace. Though Gen X and Gen Y form a growing segment of the workforce, the Baby Boomer generation will remain an important factor. Employers facing a prospective shortage of science and technology grads will want to hang on to experienced talent. Workplace flexibility  is one way to do that.
  • The new work setting—People still use the corporate office, but many spend less time there. Office space often sits vacant, as the worker uses their home, hotel, coffee shop or other “third place” to work. By redesigning work spaces and processes for more flexibility, organizations can gain in productivity and reduce their real estate footprint.

In future posts, we’ll have more to say about the new workplace, share successes and best practices from AT&T’s  Workplace 2020 program, and take a closer look at the people and the technologies that enable this new world of work.

In the meantime, what do you think of the “anywhere” workplace? What does your business do to ensure engagement among employees working remotely? What challenges do you face? We look forward to continuing the conversation!
Russ McFadden Asset Management and Transactions VP AT&T About Russ