3 Workplace Revolutions and Future Innovations

by Joe Staples
, 4 min read
Workplace revolutions and future innovations

There’s a major shift happening in the workplace right now. The way we collaborate, plan projects, and manage our workload is changing, and if businesses aren’t ready they will quickly be left behind.

Understanding exactly what is causing this change gives us some insight into what businesses can do now to make sure they thrive in the future workplace.


See our post "4 Keys to The Future of Work" for more insight into how you can stay ahead of the game when it comes to the future of work.


3 Workplace Revolutions Happening Now

In my 20 years of experience as a CMO, I’ve seen a lot of change. I’ve seen old-school marketing, like billboards and newspaper ads, make way to a huge variety of digital marketing tactics, like social media and PPC ads. And then I’ve seen some of those traditional methods make a comeback.

But, that’s not all.

I’ve also watched as the way our teams work and the way employees tackle long-term projects has gone from whiteboards and memos to cloud-based project management dashboards and instant messaging.

There are three major shifts happening in the workplace right now, and they are changing the way we work.

1. A Multi-Generational Workforce

All the talk about millennials taking over the workplace isn’t just hype; it’s a fact that’s changing offices across industries. In 2015, Pew Research reported that millennials (those born between 1982 and 2000) became the largest group in the American workforce.

These employees grew up with the Internet. Communicating via smartphone and social media is second nature to them. They can’t picture a world without email and the ability to connect to the Internet anytime, anywhere from a tiny device.

The way millennials view the workplace is fundamentally different than the way previous generations do. Millennials would much rather telecommute than sit in an office all day, and offering flexible hours is a major perk that will help companies attract and retain these workers.

This group is also all about networking, multi-tasking, and quickly jumping back and forth between tasks, and as they take over the workforce we’ll have to keep up.

2. Digitization

I’ve seen first-hand how offline work has been transitioning to online work over the past few decades, but as emerging trends and technologies expert Constantin Magdalina writes:

“Digitalization is no longer an abstract concept but part of our daily program, in the private life, and especially at work.”

For example, not long ago a first draft of a document would be emailed, or even worse, printed and passed around the office for everyone to edit and approve. Now, businesses are using online proofing tools that make this kind of collaboration and approval process easier.

You can expect more and more elements of work to become digital, with older, inefficient processes becoming obsolete.

3. Stagnant Productivity

Recent research conducted by Workfront found that employees spend just 39 percent of their time on the duties they were hired to perform. In fact, productivity has been declining since about 2000.

Less productive teams pose a bigger threat than slow workdays and idle employees. Businesses, industries, and the economy suffer when productivity levels drop.

This negative change has disrupted our current workplace, but with the right approach, businesses can turn it around and see an upswing in productivity in the future workplace.

What the Future of Work Looks Like

These shifts will lead to three key workplace innovations, and companies that want to continue to thrive will need to embrace and implement them.

1. The Hollywood Model of Work

In the future, businesses will adopt “the Hollywood model,” which gives them flexibility and allows them to reach new levels of efficiency.

Workfront CEO Alex Shootman explains:

“Work is going to be more in the way Hollywood makes movies. A project is identified; a team is assembled; it works together for precisely as long as is needed to complete the task; then the team disbands.”

Intuit estimates that more than 40 percent of the American workforce will be freelancers, contractors, or temporary employees by the year 2020.

In a recent Workfront survey of C-level executives at large enterprises, more than 75 percent said the idea of “coming to work” is headed for extinction.

Businesses that want to stay on the cutting edge will start offering employees flex time and allow remote working. Using cloud-based tools will make it possible to use the Hollywood model without inhibiting productivity, collaboration, or communication.

2. Transformational Leadership

According to a 2016 Deloitte study, 66 percent of millennials surveyed expected to leave their jobs by 2020 (within just four years).

The millennial employees of the current—and future—workforce are looking for freedom to pursue identify, purpose, and authenticity, and forward-thinking businesses will start providing that now so they are ready to take on the future workplace.

Businesses should also look for ways to increase collaboration and transparency and automate and digitize wherever possible.

millennials work technology

3. Boundary-less Integration

The technology at your business needs to be in alignment with the way employees of the future will think and work. Millennials are also known as “digital natives,” and for good reason; they are already experts at using digital tools to navigate life and work.

Natalie Engels, design director and senior associate at Gensler, said:

“Look ahead to the possibility of sharing files and documents in virtual office spaces or collaborating with colleagues in new ways. The skillset necessary to perform many of these tasks already exists in the next generation of workers.”

Using tools that allow for flexible work models, increased collaboration and digitization, and a silo-free environment will ensure businesses can take on the current disruptions in the workplace and prepare for the innovations to come in the future of work.


Check out "What Skills Will You Need for The Future Workplace? 6 Thought Leaders Weigh In" for more expert advice on preparing for the future of work.

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