The workplace is undergoing some fundamental changes. In this video, we will talk about the trends happening in the workplace, demographic changes, the Millennials arrival, and explore how we might be working in the future in a modern workplace.
Hi, my name is Ammar Hasayen, and one of my responsibilities recently was to help big international organizations to implement the modern workplace or digital workplace, as part of big digital transformation team. I also work as a consultant for organizations to help them plan their modern workplace.
I learned a lot during this journey, and I thought it would be great if I can share my experience, as I know for sure, many organizations are either struggling with their modern workplace implementation, or they are still operating under a legacy workplace.
I also speak in international conferences in Europe and North America about how to plan a modern workplace project, what might go wrong, and why it is a good investment to initiate such project. So, let’s get started.
Everyone nowadays is talking about the Modern Workplace, but today, I want to talk about the WHY part behind implementing the modern workplace. Because think about it for second. By understanding WHY, you need a modern workplace, you will get a better understanding of the WHAT part. That is What is a modern workplace, and by doing that, by understanding the WHY and WHAT, you can convince people and your manager that it is a good idea and investment to move to a modern workplace. Moreover, by knowing the WHY, this will give you more context when thinking about HOW to implement such a workplace.
Before starting to talk about the modern workplace, I want to share with you something. I was wondering the other day how come I didn’t hear about the term (modern workplace) back when I graduated from university 15 years back? Back then, we had email servers and file servers, and no one was talking about the workplace being modern.
There are also big cloud service providers out there talking about the modern workplace from technology perspective, so Microsoft for example, offers Office 365 as a technology to empower the workforce and unlock creativity as a way to implement the modern workplace. But keep in mind, the term Modern Workplace is not specific to Microsoft technologies or any cloud provider out there trying to sell its collaboration tools. In fact, you can have a modern or digital workplace, without having Office 365 at all. Because remember one thing, Technology is just an enabler.
So, there must be something that happened across the years that mandates a change in the way we think about the workplace. There must be a reason why suddenly everyone is talking about changing the place we work and make it modern workplace. By understanding the Why behind the modern workplace, we can plan the transition to a modern workplace with more confident, and perhaps use the Why to sell the modern workplace project and get the management buy-in.
How The Workplace Looked Like Before?
The question I want to ask now is, how the workplace looked like before? In other words, if we are going to talk about the modern workplace, then how a non modern or an old workplace looks like?
I know for sure that back in the 1990’s, the workplace was a rigid place. Employees conformed to cultural norms like wearing a shirt and tie. Working hours are also strict from 9 to 5. The interesting thing is that employees used to spend most of their time in the office working under their manager’s direction, and most of the time, they cannot work from home or access corporate resources remotely. In other words, the productivity was associated with the office physical location. You must be at the office to work.
What about security back then? It is normal to see server rooms hosting the company’s applications and files, with a lot of specialized security devices and appliances. Security was strictly about creating trust zones like DMZ and internal networks, managed by VLANs and separated by firewalls, IDS and IPS solutions. Back then, corporate data was located inside the corporate network and behind firewalls. A VPN is used often to facilitate remote access.
I also remember that we were only allowed to access corporate data and services if we were at the office and from inside the organization’s network. We didn’t have mobile devices, so we only use corporate machines provided to us by our company. Mobility was not invented yet, or not widely used or allowed.
Email also was the main and perhaps the only tool to exchange and move data inside the company and when exchanging data with an external party. We used to keep large PST files that we regularly backed up, and all-important documents and important agreements are most likely found inside one of those large PST files.
Now, is there is anything wrong with the old workplace? Well, back in that time, it was a good and working just fine. Everyone is happy and doing their job just fine. You might be asking, so why we are talking about a new modern workplace if the old one is working fine?
Well, this is because there is a shift happening. There are things that happened in the past years, and there are some circumstances and challenges that make the old workplace not practical workplace anymore. Let me explain more.
Five Trends Shaping The Future Workplace
Let us talk about trends that are changing the way we think of the workplace, trends that are forcing organizations to challenge everything they know about work.
Globalization means that the world is becoming a small city. It does not matter anymore what language you speak, where are you located, or what currency you are using. This is happening now as organizations can tap into talent anywhere across the globe at any time.
Mobility has changed also. Mobility was about the device, so the device is mobile, and you can work from the same device from anywhere. But now the person is mobile and is using multiple devices from different places. You might be using your work computer at work, then move to your mobile device on the road, and perhaps check your email from your iPad at home.
Mobility is so important as it give us access to information anytime, anywhere and from any device. This means that work is no longer a place you go, but things you do. Work becomes something you carry with you in your pocket wherever you are.
Millennials and the demographic change is a key trend. Millennials are the first generation that has spent all their lives exposed to technology, and they are expected to form 50% of the global workforce by 2020. They are expected to shape the future worker as they have a unique expectation of how works looks like. They have unique expectations about work, they do not know or expect to commute for an hour just to reach work, or to set in a cubical. They are not comfortable to work from 9 to 5 or use legacy technologies. They want coaches at work, free food and open spaces. For them, Swift decisions can be made by a short message, while for complicated decisions they prefer real time communication tools like voice and video conference. It is all about having options and flexibility of communication, which leads to more dynamics in teamwork and increases productivity.
We also live in a world were social media plays a big role in our lives. We share our work history on LinkedIn, our photos on Instagram, we share our thoughts on public blogs, and we engage into conversations in Facebook. So, every aspect of the business behavior has changed, including the way we share, communicate, learn, consume information, access technology and create content. Customers are no longer watching TV ads, they are online searching the web, using social media, and communicating over new channels.
Technology such as IoT, Big data, wearable devices, SaaS applications and cloud computing are enabling us to work in new ways, keeping us more engaged and productive. Technology is the foundation of every business out there, and it becomes the foundation of the workplace instead of being a feature of the workplace.
These trends are forcing organizations to shift their mentality and re-imagine their workplace, to attract and retain top talent and digitally transform.
The Rise Of Cybersecurity
We cannot talk about the shift happening without addressing cybersecurity. Cyber-threats are at all time high. Security in facet has evolved from being a topic discussed in the server room, to a key topic in the board room. The shift happening with adopting cloud services, SaaS applications, mobility and BYOD made us re-thin how to address security.
Organizations typically protected their internet access and internal resources like databases and web servers, with top of art firewalls, IDS, IPS, and VPN access controls, and so forth. This typical approach was used for almost 30 years, but this is no longer an effective solution alone, with the huge adoption of the cloud. Do not forget that employees are now using their mobile devices to access cloud resources, and they do that from anywhere, and using the public internet, all of which organizations do not have control over.
In fact, it is easier for an attacker to connect from anywhere to a cloud management APIs and do bad things, as those are exposed over the public internet. This calls for a new way to manage devices, re-imagine the security perimeter, and investing in AI and behavioral based security.
There are also other new challenges when we think about the workplace. Things like remote workers. Forrester found that 41 percent of employees report they now spend more time away from their desk than they did two years ago. And a recent study revealed that 89% of Millennials would prefer to choose when and where they work rather than being placed in a 9-to-5 position.
This calls for investments in more versatile and more personal computing tools that adapt with both the individual and the group, because to Millennials, work is not a place to go, for them, work is things they do, and they don’t care where and when they do their work.
Compliance is now a big topic that every organization should invest in, along with data governance. External sharing calls for new way to share data and invest in technology that facilitate co-authoring, version control and simple sharing features as more and more teams are now virtual.
Self-service is becoming an important topic, not only because it saves money to organization, but because Millennials are the DYI (Do It Yourself) generation and they expect to do things by their self, instead of waiting for approvals or someone to help. If they can reset their Facebook account password themselves, then why they cannot reset their work account password without calling a help desk. Instead of calling the IT department to create a dashboard for the data they are looking for, organizations should invest in tools that entourage workers to be more productive, create content, and unlock their creativity.
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Please also feel free to connect with me on Twitter @ammarhasayen, as I love engaging with people and exchange ideas all the time.
You can also have a look at the “The arrival of Millennials and the evolution of the modern workplace”, the modern workplace tip of the iceberg, trends and solutions for the modern workplace and how to secure the modern workplace with Microsoft 365 advanced threat protection blog posts.posts.