The Future of Work is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed.


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The title of this post reworks a quote often attributed to science fiction author William Gibson: “The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.”

If you strip business down to its fundamentals, people do work to create value for customers, who pay the bills. Simple.

How the work gets done and what value is created is where the “magic” happens. Why is it that some companies have more engaged and productive employees, who create more value for customers at lower cost?

I believe the answer is that the future of work has already arrived for these companies, who empower their employees to get the right work done more effectively and efficiently. That’s why I was delighted to support Jacob Morgan of Chess Media Group in a study on the Future of Work, focusing on Enterprise social and collaboration tools; Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies; and Flexible work arrangements.

The big picture is that the survey found, regardless of organization size, business leaders do recognize the need for change if they are to attract and retain the best workers.

  • Nearly 90% of workers say that social/collaboration tools enable them to work more effectively, and 86% say their organizations have been investing in collaboration tools for the past 18 months
  • A slight majority (54%) of organizations have a BYOD policy, which 57% of workers believe motivates them to use social/collaboration tools.
  • Flexible work is commonplace, with 87% of workers participating in some way and most reporting they are more productive and satisfied with their jobs as a result.

One of the key macro trends the report noted is the growing influence of the so-called Millennials, who will comprise half of the US workforce by 2020. That’s just 7 short years from now. These “digital natives” have grown up with technology, including smartphones and social media, and expect it to be available on the job.

As you can see from this chart, the top three reasons for using collaboration tools is the stuff of everyday life at work: general communication, peer-to-peer collaboration, and ask/answer questions.

I think the time has passed for debate about the ROI of social/collaboration tools, sometimes called “Enterprise 2.0.” This study shows that in the coming years they’ll become part of the infrastructure of most organizations, like office PCs and phones.

The full report is available for download here (free registration is required).


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