English Deutsch Espanol Francais Italiano Portugues Russian Arabic Japanese Korean Simplified Chinese

Nov 12, 2008

Future of Corporate Office: A Tale

Ever wondered how the new age office will look like? We take you on a virtual tour...

The workplace is getting a makeover. And how? As new age corporates transform themselves, technology will be used to the hilt. Remember the days of typewriters and cyclostyle machines? When CEOs were demi-gods? Ten years hence, all of this could be history.

CEOs and trainees could be buddies, firms could recruit directly from social networking sites, meetings could be conducted from the comfort of one’s drawing room and work stations could double up as personal assistants. Here’s what the crystal ball shows for the Office 2020.

Vanishing corporate HQ

As many more employees choose to work out of their homes, corporate offices could become redundant. Welcome to virtual ‘plug-and-play’ offices, where anyone can log in from anywhere and work.

In India, companies, such as IBM and Proctor & Gamble have already adopted such techniques. Saurabh Sharma, an executive consultant in a multi-national infotech company says he hardly ever goes to office. “I plug in from home and meet my deadlines.” Sharma’s commute-less work life gives him time to pursue an MBA as well.

Global HR firm Manpower India’s study, ‘Future Work Trends in 2016’, reveals that 63 per cent workers want flexibility. Its managing director, Naresh Malhan, says, “84 per cent employers have realised this is a good way to retain employees.” By 2020 then, most companies will use flexi-timing to retain talent. Employers will cease to care when and where staff work so long as the job gets done.

The four-day week is likely to become popular and leave, more flexible. Hot-desking and videoconferencing will become as normal as filing once was. Business travel will become passe.

Hi-Tech Offices

These will have intelligent furniture. Steelcase, a US company that designs office equipment, is developing chairs that will sense when a worker is stressed. The clever chair may be able to signal to the boss that it’s time to off-load some of the overworked employee’s tasks.

The intelligent doors of tomorrow’s office will have scanners to read identity cards and alert the PC to open the page last looked at by the worker. Microsoft has developed desks with digital whiteboards that allow ideas to be jotted down and exchanged during a meeting.

And if you’re distracted during a conference call, American company Sandia National Laboratories is working on software that will takes notes, like a personal assistant, and provide a typed summary too.

Cubicles will be replaced with open community space. Wireless technology will allow employees to set up virtual offices anywhere they want. And everyone, right from CEO to trainee, will be working from the same area.

Patni BPO’s plush Noida office already boasts several innovations to increase productivity -- lights with sensors that dim depending on the number of people in the room; carbon dioxide sensors that pump fresh air to keep energy levels high....

Social networking for jobs

Move over talent search agencies, Internet job portals and old-fashioned word of mouth recommendations. Social networking sites will now double up as recruitment centres.

‘Mercer’s Workplace 2012’, a study by this company, says that companies will increasingly encourage such sites to build relationships with clients as well. Collaborative Web 2.0 technologies will also be used for talent hunting.

Companies will also create their own degree programmes to mould talent according to their needs. To cut costs, employers will prefer freelancers and temporary workers to contract employees.

CEOs as buddies

The CEO will become more approachable. CEO blogs have already caught on but as these become ever more popular, hierarchy and control will be diluted.

‘‘There will be greater transparency,” says Ajay Soni, business leader of global human resources (HR) company Hewitt Associates. Its CEO, Ress Fradin, writes a blog that allows any of his 23,000-strong workforce to write back about challenges for the future and with new ideas.

In Office 2020, employees will also be able to help write company policy that affects them and define best practice.

Wellness programmes

Employers will make these mandatory in order to reduce health care costs.

Mercer’s study says benefits such as subsidised gym membership will be replaced by lunch-time personnel training sessions or yoga at the department or team level.

‘‘Fewer companies will provide health benefits,’’ says Malhan. Vital health checks may become mandatory. And if you have high cholesterol and too much fat in your diet, watch out. You could be handed a prescribed menu by your office.

If tomorrow’s office seems too demanding, one could no longer rely on the relief of retirement at age 65. The Manpower survey found that the majority of employers want employees to work beyond that.

Gender benders

The gender divide will narrow as more women break the glass ceiling. According to the Manpower survey, more male employees say they would gladly stay at home to take care of the children, even as their wives go out to work and move up the office hierarchy.

As the workplace changes, HR too will have to evolve into a bespoke service, accommodating every employee’s demands and tailoring contracts to suit them. As author C K Prahalad says, ‘‘Any company that can’t imagine the future, won’t be around to enjoy it.’’

Courtesy: TNN
Add this post:
  • Agregar a Technorati
  • Agregar a Del.icio.us
  • Agregar a DiggIt!
  • Agregar a Yahoo!
  • Agregar a Google
  • Agregar a Meneame
  • Agregar a Furl
  • Agregar a Reddit
  • Agregar a Magnolia
  • Agregar a Blinklist
  • Agregar a Blogmarks