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A revolution, which continues to gain momentum, has taken place within organizations throughout the country. It is affecting how a local workplace functions in a global economy. From demographics to technological innovation, this current workplace revolution represents some of the major organizational goals.
The revolution currently taking place in the workplace can help organizations gain control of some of the largest expenses related to running a business. Strategies help to support greater productivity, technology and competitiveness, just to name a few examples. As the workforce and workspace come closer together, having the right strategies can streamline operations.
There are five such strategies emerging in the workforce that will revolutionize the work environment. Organizations must leverage these strategies, as they apply to the workplace, with proactive plans for maximum benefits.
1. Mobilized Workforce
Mobile worker programs continue to grow, despite some reports that major corporations are scaling back. The ubiquity of smartphones and laptops, coupled with secure networks, allows more companies to offer telecommuting to employees. This normalized work practice has gained more traction in the past decade with more transient and decentralized options. Progressive organizations willing to embrace this revolution smartly leverage technologies that enable an agile, productive and empowered workforce.
From 2005 to 2012, telecommuting rose 73 percent in a broad spectrum of industries. Labor researchers forecast that by 2015, the American workforce will have 1.3 billion mobile workers. Contributing to this steady growth is in part due to technology advances. However, the advantages of having a mobile workplace strategy can make a strong case for implementing the program.
Surprisingly, the federal government is a leader in deploying mobile workforces with the passage of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. In essence, the Act allows agency executives to identify eligible employees for a telework program, which is implemented according to agency policy.
There are many significant benefits for mobile workplace programs. Real estate costs decrease when fewer physical workspaces are required. Mobile workers also reduce the risk of disruptive operational stoppages when an emergency occurs. Mobile workers are not expected to physically access the office after inclement weather or any other catastrophe that interrupts operations. Additionally, adopting mobile work arrangements can be an effective recruitment and retention strategy.
2. Globalized Workforce
The workforce revolution is not confined to one geographical area. Naturally, globalization of business practices will include a globalized workforce. In fact, this strategy is essential to driving the entire workforce revolution as more organizations within the United States look outside the national market for opportunities. A primary driver for capitalizing on workforces in new global markets is lower labor costs in some regions. Proximity to customers and the need for skills not available locally has increased the need for outsourcing services to build global workforces.
In a recent United Nations study, it was revealed that nearly 82,000 companies have 810,000 subsidiaries classified as multinational. Collectively, these companies employ close to 80 million in areas outside their home countries. This number is comparative to the number of workers on an entire continent.
Not only do these global workforces have the mobile advantage of 24/7 electronic access, but they can be physically local. Technology allows a centralized office hub connection. Employees have the best of both worlds. They have direct connection to the organization, while maintaining connection with customers and prospects.
3. Utilization of Cloud Technologies
Central to having a successful mobile and/or global workforce is deploying the best technology that brings benefits to both employees and the organization. Enter the advent of cloud computing, which is a major player in workplace technologies today. Organizations that implement cloud technologies can give their workforces access to critical applications virtually anywhere and at anytime.
Employees are not tethered to the office network or a specific device. Instead, cloud computing removes the potential for disruptions and barriers that would limit productivity. Another benefit to cloud technologies is mobile workers are never isolated or disengaged from the organization. They can easily connect to internal activities related to their work at the same time onsite employees gain access.
Additionally, cloud computing delivers the latest technology onsite and offsite all the time. Productivity will not suffer due to delays and disruptions of manual updates or fixes. Instead, cloud technology handles regular maintenance functions behind the scenes while providing a virtually seamless access to business applications and information. The automation of updates remove the need for IT departments to keep cloud-based solutions current.
4. Demand for More Flexibility
As baby boomers continue to leave the workforce, so does the work ethic commonly attributed to this group. With their exit comes the next generation of workers who are demanding more flexible work arrangements. Rather than being tied to a physical 9-to-5 workplace, this new era of workers place a high value on being able to create their own work day. As mentioned earlier, many organizations are willing to accommodate these work arrangements as long as goals and tasks are met.
Autonomy and flexibility have become additional benefit attractions for retaining top talent. Increasing shortages of skilled workers for some positions make organizations more open to offering flexible work schedules along with health insurance and vacation days. According to a 2012 study, one in three employees prefers the ability to work from home over other perks such as a company car.
Flexible work arrangements, a culture of trust, fairness and open communication rank highest on the reward list for employees. In another study, work flexibility is becoming increasingly important when workers consider new positions. Today’s workforce wants more than just a position to retire from in 25 or 30 years. They want a workforce environment that aligns with their values, a place that have a greater say in how things get done.
5. Optimization of the Distributed Workforce
Many organizations are engaging in more distributed decision-making within departments. Even some important decisions are made at the lower end of the organizational structure. While expanding into new markets, organizations must also protect existing ones. To accomplish this, employees need the authority to react quickly to changes in local conditions. Waiting for questions to ascend management hierarchy and descend with decisions could become costly.
Distributed decision-making enables quick, effective responses. Employees on the front lines are most likely more in tune with customer needs and preferences. Satellite offices located throughout markets give them the proximity needed to make decisions in the best interest of the organization and the customers being served.
In addition, organizations are recognizing the need to offer cross-cultural training for employees. Such training will broaden employee knowledge of different business settings and make decision accordingly. Particularly, the mobile/global workforce could interact with customers and prospects from a variety of cultural settings. An understanding of these global markets is critical to business survival. Even within one country where diversity of cultures may exist, having an understanding of differences, multilingual skills and international knowledge gives employees an advantage.
Joining the Workplace Revolution
Joining the workplace revolution may require some adjustments, but these are activities that can pay off in achieving business goals, increasing productivity and giving organizations a competitive advantage.
Powerful tools are available to assist organizations with revolutionizing their workplace. These are key components to optimizing the benefits organizations hope to gain. Generally, asset optimization solutions are available for management of cloud computing functions.
Workforce management that embraces these revolutionizing strategies can turn expensive labor practices into opportunities. Since globalization is here to stay, organizations might as well take advantage of the benefits these strategies offer. Mobilization of the workforce is optimized so organizations can retain their top performers who demand more flexibility. Advanced technologies allow employees to connect to company time systems to conveniently work offsite.
There is increasing evidence that a workplace revolution is taking shape across the globe. Organizations that make strategic steps towards these advances should expect positive results in the workforce and bottom line.