futuristic office building

The future of work: Has it already arrived?

by ​Karen Henry
Is change still the only constant in the new world of work? There’s been a lot of talk about the future of work — how innovative new technologies will change the way we work and collaborate, and how we have more information available to us than at any other time in history. This has changed how we manage our information — as a result, our data analysis tools are becoming so sophisticated that we’re getting insights about marketing and customer behavior that were previously unimaginable. And the workforce is changing as well, with millennials poised to take up 35 percent1 of the total U.S. labor force next year.

Technology is changing. Information management is changing. The workforce is changing.

But do businesses really see the changes that are happening? And are they acting on these changes?

What if the future of work were already here?

​If an overwhelming majority of business leaders agree that this new world of work is where they want to be, why are so many businesses lagging behind on capitalizing on it?

Businesses are slow to adapt and adopt

Many of the technologies that will change how workforces manage information already exist: an expansive global mobile network, telepresence, advancements in computing and cloud technology — the list goes on and on. The ability to operate a business in this new world of work has arrived.

However, many businesses still haven’t gotten the memo. According to a survey by Savin, while 92 percent of business leaders see the value in moving to a more digital work environment, 31 percent don’t train their employees to effectively navigate it — specifically when it comes to managing information. In fact, only 34 percent of these leaders actually feel confident in their own information-managing abilities.

And this slow-paced approach trickles down, from the C-Suite to department and team leaders to everyday workers. When businesses implement incomplete procedures and processes, or lag behind in tech adoption, the negative ramifications are easy to see — and it’s a negativity that permeates the entire organization.

So the question is simple: if an overwhelming majority of business leaders agree that this new world of work is where they want to be, why are so many businesses lagging behind in capitalizing on it? Why aren’t more companies using mobile technologies to enhance worker productivity, or building the right infrastructure to break down silos within an organization and better share and manage information?

The answers are many: costs, resistance to change and inertia. Many business leaders would rather not — or cannot — rock the boat by recommending significant changes to ways their business operates. Justifying investments in IT infrastructure, employee education, or change management can be difficult when margins are already so tight and policies seemingly set in stone. It can be challenging to explain and justify why certain employees, teams, or departments require different tools, processes, and management styles. Nonetheless, it’s an argument leaders need to keep fighting in today’s transforming world of work.

The right approach to change

So, is the future of work already here? Yes — to a point. While it’s clear that many changes in technology, workforce and information management are already here and affecting the way companies operate today, what’s less clear is where exactly the business world is headed in the future. Will some incredible new technology once again completely revolutionize the way that we work, the way the copier and computer did? Or will we see slower, more incremental refinements to existing technologies? Will big changes happen quickly, or will small changes happen slowly?

Of course, no one can say for sure. But what is certain is that no matter what changes the future of work brings, the strongest and best-performing businesses will stay on top of these changes through information mobility — i.e. improving the ways they use technology, manage information, and get the most out of their workforce. These are the businesses edging out competition in today’s changing business world. And these are the businesses that will continue to lead the way into the future of work.

Make sure your business is ready

Edge out competition and lead the way into the future of work.
Karen Henry
Karen Henry, Principal Consultant for Ricoh USA, Inc.’s Consulting Services Organizational Agility group, is experienced in driving end-user adoption in support of customer business process and technology changes. Henry is a certified change management practitioner who implements sustainable and continuous change management programs and solutions within the retail, healthcare and hospitality industries. She is a Prosci Certified Change Management Practitioner (CCMP).
1 Zumbrun, Josh. "How to Tell if a Fact About Millennials Isn't Actually a Fact." Online posting. 27 November 2014