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Sep 25

4 Ways Today's Workforce is Changing (and What Top Companies are Doing About It)

Corporate real estate teams, workplace strategists, and IT departments around the world are facing a monumental challenge: how to create a workplace experience that meets the needs of today's employees. Here are some workforce trends that are dramatically impacting the way we think about the workplace experience.

1. Today's workforce is more diverse than ever before.

Millennials now make up the majority of the workforce and are maturing into leadership positions. Generation Z is joining the workforce. Baby Boomers are returning to work as consultants or temporary workers. It is not uncommon for a company's workforce to be comprised of as many as five generations of workers. And, while a lot of ink has been spilled over how each of these generations is different, the bottom line is people are different (regardless of the source of difference) and the workplace has to be adaptable and flexible to accommodate individual needs and preferences.

2. Today's workforce expects greater choice and control over their physical space.

Regardless of age group, people perform better when they have more choice over how they collaborate, learn, and work. A recent research study by Steelcase shows that employees who have choice over when, where, and how to work have higher levels of satisfaction, innovation, and job performance. Empowering employees—to do things like reserve quiet areas, control lights after-hours, or adjust temperature in a stuffy conference room—goes a long way in improving workplace satisfaction and performance. Enabling them to do it through a workplace app is even better. This leads into the third way today's workforce is changing.

3. Today's workforce is tech-driven.

Employees increasingly depend on technology to achieve high levels of productivity, whether it's the rise of workplace app usage on personal phones, the ubiquity of video conference for virtual collaboration, or the pervasiveness of laptops as a primary work computer. According to a 2016 "Future of Work" study by Adobe, 81% of US office workers say state-of-the-art tech is important at work and 85% believe technology makes them more productive. In a world where nearly every working adult owns a smartphone, the digital workplace is emerging as a necessity.

4. Today's workforce is more discerning.

They expect more from their physical space and their workplace technology. Despite the best efforts of workplace services teams, roughly one-third of employees report that their workplace does not help them meet their full potential. And, in a workplace crowded with new technological solutions every day, adoption rates for enterprise apps are abysmally low. Employees expect more from their workplace experience—and they'll walk if they don't receive it: 67% of knowledge workers left their previous employer partly because their workplace was not optimized for them.

How are leading companies responding? They are investing in workplaces that are more digital, smart, and connected—and ultimately, more people-centered.

Top companies are responding to these changes in workforce demographics and expectations by embracing the digital workplace. According to recent surveys of corporate real estate teams, 86% are reinventing or revising their workplace strategies. By 2018, the vast majority of companies expect to have programs specifically addressing workplace experience and technology.

Meeting the needs of a diverse, discerning, and tech-driven workforce is no easy task—a people-first approach is the first step. To learn more check out our eBook, Building a People-Centered Workplace: A Winning Approach to Putting People First.

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