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How the Workplace May Change in 2012

I came across an article recently that identified some workforce trends to look for in 2012.  It included several that I am seeing – and one that I even wrote about recently (Reverse Mentoring) – nice to know I’m on the cutting edge.  I’ve added some of my own thoughts to the list.  I’d be interested in your thoughs and insights.

1.  Mobile devices:
More employees are using their own iPhones, iPads and other portable electronics for work instead of company-issued computers or laptops, a trend sometimes called “bring your own device” or BYOD. There are some legitimate concerns for privacy and the safeguarding of confidential information with this trend – but that won’t slow things down.  The days of carrying two phones (one personal and one business) are over – people want to carry less.  And I know personally – I would rather work on my iPad, than lug around a big bulky, power draining laptop! 

2. Telecommuting:
Companies are offering telecommuting as a way to give employees more flexible schedules and in some cases make up for not offering bigger raises, but also to curb office space expenses. Believe it or not it will be Baby Boomers who may take most advantage of this.   AARP research shows “70 percent want to continue to work, but they want to do it on their terms.” 

3. Open office spaces:
With fewer employees coming into the office, companies are reconfiguring floor plans to devote more square footage to communal areas and less to traditional, walled work spaces. Some have remodeled entire floors to include shared workstations and group areas for impromptu brainstorming or conference sessions. Employees who aren’t around every day may get lockers to stash personal items during office hours.  As I travel and meet with clients I am beginning to see that trend firsthand here in Lancaster. 

4. Instant communication:
Employees increasingly view email as an inefficient form of communication that moves at a snail’s pace compared to text messages, social networks and other alternatives.  I believe the move from email to text messaging, and the use of web based communication tools will be frighteningly fast.  I was just speaking to my software vendor today about the need to communicate via text – as email may be too slow.  Several of our vendors use web based chat for tech support.

5. Online collaboration tools:
More companies are using web-based software, rather than email, to communicate with telecommuters and mobile workers. Some companies now use programs such as Yammer, Chatter and Jive to create private, Facebook-style networks that managers and employees can use to exchange messages or documents. Video- and web-based conferencing is here to stay too, workplace experts say. Employees need to know how to use it all, regardless of where they work.  While online or virtual meetings won’t replace the need for face to face interactions – the availability of these tools may replace long email discussions or phone calls.

6. Web-based software:
Employers are following consumers by using more web-based or “cloud” computing, including not just collaboration tools but also other web-based software in day-to-day operations. Those applications may include web-based portals employees can use to check on their health insurance or 401(k) investments.

7. Reverse mentoring:
Along with traditional mentoring programs, some businesses are establishing reverse mentoring arrangements where younger workers do the teaching, helping older workers master software, social media and other modern workplace skills.  I’ve heard of several people implementing informal reverse mentoring relationships after reading my post on this from last year – and we’ve even started some here at TriStarr!!

8. Contractors:
It’s the age of the free agent, and not just in sports. More people are working as independent contractors, or contract (temporary) workers not because they can’t find permanent full-time corporate positions but because they want to. Close to 10% of the workforce in Europe is “temporary” compared to approximately 2% in the US.  The percentage in the US will increase. This is not a question of if, it’s a matter of how long and what the percentage will top off at.

9. Co-working spaces:
Whether they’re independent contractors or full-time employees, more home-based workers are checking out co-working spaces. They can find a desk for a few hours, often at minimal expense, plus conference rooms, internet connections and other standard office amenities. Worldwide, the number of co-working spaces is mushrooming. There a need for more than what folks can get out of a Starbucks.  While this coffee shop may be fine for some – as employees continue to get more mobile the need for spaces offering more than a cup of coffee and free wi-fi will increase. 

10. Corporate culture initiatives:
A decent salary and benefits are no longer enough to attract or keep valuable employees. For that, companies are investing in initiatives that speak to the passions and practices of workers of all ages. Those initiatives include going green or producing products in a more socially responsible manner to allowing employees time off to perform community service work. We spend a lot of time working – companies that recognize and feed the cultural needs of their workforce will attract the best and brightest – and survive.

We anticipated that the workplace will continue to change, and look different over the next few years.  I’d be interested in hearing your comments as to what changes you expect, or are already seeing in your workplace, and how they may change how you do business in the future..

TriStarr provides temporary and temp-to-hire staffing, professional placement services, outsourced recruiting services and HR consulting services. TriStarr Staffing carefully screens and presents only the top 20% of qualified candidates to our clients.  TriStarr Staffing provides unique solutions for your staffing and HR Needs.  Whether you need short term temporary employees for a project, or sophisticated Recruitment Process Outsourcing solution, TriStarr has the experience to identify solutions right for your needs.  A free HR Audit will provide you with peace of mind knowing your HR Practices are up to date, and in compliance.  For more information click here and paste “I’m Interested in a FREE HR Audit” in the comment box.

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