Born between 1979 and 2000, millennials are on track to forming 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. How to attract and retain young talent and enable them with a suitable working environment is vital to maintain the competitiveness of organizations in the market. This development is forcing managers to rethink their workplace design and collaboration arrangement and 2020 will prove to be a turning point in this transformation.
Also known as digital natives, millennials grew up with technology, which helps them understand and appreciate how technology can shape the way they work, live, and play. However, traditionally, corporate culture has been top-down and rigid, with mandated working hours, seating arrangements, stipulated lunch breaks; basically, the antithesis to the new generation of workers. Millennials are starkly different from the older generations in what they seek from their job, their work values, and the way they work. Clearly, there is an urgent need to adopt a bottom-up approach to redesign the future workplace.
This is especially true to the Asia-Pacific region, which is home to a large population of young workers and rapid economic growth. The Asia-Pacific region is poised to cater to this generation of workers and adapt to the workplace of the future. In this context, I have set out three predictions that will be realized and brought on by the influence and demands of a new generation of workers:
Prediction #1: There will be more offices designed on huddle rooms than those based on big board room designs.
According to a recent study titled “Perils of the Open Office,” more than one in two workers prefer open-plan offices, with the number increasing steadily with the younger generations. However, the drawback to having an open office is that with wall partitions brought down, ambient noise and distractions in the work environment increase. As a work-around to this, organizations are beginning to see the benefits of installing smaller rooms within the workplace. These huddle rooms accommodate up to six people, and when outfitted with the right technology, can spur high energy interactions, which make them perfect for the modern workforce that needs to be agile and highly collaborative.
Aside from offering quiet sanctuary and privacy for workers to remain productive away from distractions, cost-effective collaboration tools can also be installed in these rooms. The younger generation’s love for the open office will force the management’s hand to rethink how the modern workplace will look like, and huddle rooms will no longer be a good-to-have but a must-have for organizations no matter what sizes and businesses they are running.
Prediction #2: The ‘gadgetization’ of communications devices will gain greater traction.
Computer-free and standalone communications devices will emerge in the mainstream market in 2020. This advancement will allow users to directly interact with gadget-like communications devices, saving time, and reducing technical issues. Today, we live at a time where we have come to expect technology to work fast and efficiently, and just the way we want it to. For instance, think about when you are booking a cab and are told to wait for a long time for it to arrive. Most of us would much rather cancel it and select another cab that takes less to get to us.
This expectation translates to the workplace as well, where digital natives expect consistent, seamless audio and video experience for video meetings. Easy to use, platform-agnostic, standalone communication devices that do not require one to jump through hurdles to connect to a call will win big and gain rapid adoption in organizations. At the end of the day, technology needs to work behind the scenes and should not get in the way of getting things done.
Prediction #3: 4K video conferencing will be the gold standard for businesses looking for long-distance meetings.
Video-conferencing collaborations, just like face-to-face meetings, improve the work experience, productivity, and cost-efficiency. While the current video conferencing technology has proved to be remarkably effective in connecting people across the globe for simple collaboration purposes, the quality and capabilities of many existing solutions still fall short of expectations, especially for employees who are used to high-speed, high-resolution video. In 2020, with the commercialization of key technologies such as 5G networks and 4K videos, more users will be able to collaborate more effectively, no matter where they are.
Digital natives live and breathe technology and are usually the first to embrace the possibilities that technology brings. And as we look towards a future workforce that is going to be as dynamic and agile as the many technological developments that break ground every other year, the business would do well to pay greater attention to empowering future innovators with the right tools and resources to help them realize their potential.