3 strategies for meeting expectations in the changing workplace

The advancement of technology, as well as the globalisation of the workplace and changing work patterns, is transforming the expectations of your typical employee.

As the workplace of the future evolves, leaders and managers will have to harness the right tools help them meet these expectations, whilst also providing the resources that their employees are coming to expect.

With this in mind, a recent article on the Biz Journals website suggested some approaches for how businesses of all sizes can deal with these growing expectations.

1. Increase employee satisfaction

Ensuring that your employees are satisfied is a guaranteed way to boost productivity; yet a Gallup study shows that just 32% of US employees are engaged in their roles. This means there's a valuable opportunity for employers to increase employee satisfaction and, as a result, overall productivity levels.

Millennials are accounting for a growing proportion of the workforce - this group wants to feel they are contributing something to their organization's wider goals. So, leveraging workplace collaboration tools and software, as well as embracing enterprise social media, will have to become more of a priority.

2. Give them mobile choices

Freelance and remote working are growing phenomenons, with rising numbers choosing this kind of work over traditional jobs. This will only continue as we see the increased adoption of wearables in the workplace. Employers must prepare for this if they are to attract and retain new talent; whether it's adopting a BYOD(bring-your-own-deivce) policy or providing mobile-friendly internal platforms and software.

3. Boost communication

Email has been the predominant business communications tool for the past twenty years or so; but with inboxes piling up and people preferring two-way, instantaneous communication, this is likely to change in the years to come. Meetings are also becoming less popular as they are seen to waste valuable employee time. Bosses will have to keep up with communication technologies that can provide alternatives to these increasingly outdated channels, and ensure that meetings are more about quality than quantity.


Generation Z imagines its future workplace design, pods and all

Hanging pods, holograms and communal vegetable allotments? That's how the next generation of workers - Generation Z - envisages their ideal workplace of the future, according to a recent study reported on the Workplace Insights website.

Scandinavian furniture brand HÅG recently held a workshop with two groups of university students aged 16-18 - one in London, and one in Oslo - to gather their thoughts on what they think the future workplace will be like. So, what were their predictions?

There were four key themes that emerged during the workshops: technology, health, the environment and innovative workspaces. All of these categories reveal how the participants feel about their future workplace, and the kind of things they would like to see in it.

For example, some hoped that offices would feature desks with interactive tablets that could also turn into beds; while others foresaw hanging pods and virtual reality rooms. Some took the concept of healthy living to the extreme by featuring communal vegetable gardens so that employee could grow their own lunch.

Health and wellbeing emerged as the predominant trend for this demographic. Our personal and working lives are continuing to blur, and this looks set to continue into the next generation of workers; but this younger workforce is more concerned than we are now with taking care of their physical, mental and emotional health while at work - and they expect their employers to care, too.

So whether it's hanging pods for taking an afternoon nap, holograms projecting tranquil vistas onto the walls, or on-site gyms and health centres where staff can even book an appointment with the company doctor, wellbeing is the name of the game for Generation Z.

Jorgen Josefsson, HÅG's managing director, noted that both participant groups "show enthusiasm for good design and appreciate the importance of a good work-life balance."

"It is also clear to see that Generation Z expect their employers to look after their wellbeing by designing spaces that enhance this and provide areas suitable for a variety of different tasks," he added.

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Tech house of the future: take a look around

Although we usually focus our predictions on the future of the workplace, with growing numbers of people working from home it's also worth taking a look at what the house of the future is going to be like. The Guardian UK recently did just that, based on the tech offerings currently under development.

From the offset, even the house of the future's exterior will be different. Rather than being made from traditional bricks, homes will be constructed using eco-friendly products and processes, with blocks made from natural cement to fungi - a material already being explored by companies such as MycoWorks and EvocativeDesign.

Roofs may also never be the same again, being put to work producing power through energy-generating panels or keeping properties cool in hot weather with super-reflective tiles. Self-cleaning features - already available - will be updated and become more widely available.

Scientists are also developing paints that can safeguard a property's exterior from scuffs and scratches, while driveways could feature underground heating to keep them free from frost and snow, as well as self-charging stations for electric vehicles.

Now let's go inside the home. Kitchen innovations are advancing rapidly, but one of the most likely future additions will be a fully robotic chef - whether it's one that copies what you do, or does the fetching and carrying like Fraunhofer's Care-O-Bot4.

Appliances will be smarter too, from fridges that alert you when you're running out of an item, to ovens - such as the June oven - that are able to recognise a dish and cook it to its optimum point.

In the bathroom, devices such as Withings' Smart Body Analyzer will measure not only your weight, but your BMI, heart rate and body fat, before sending the information to your smartphone. Smart toilets offer heated seats and remote controls, but could also monitor your health by analyzing the contents before you flush them away.

Living rooms of the future will be all about relaxation, with android helpers and robo-pets helping fetch you a drink or even engaging in conversation, if you so wish. Digital devices will transform entertainment, with immersive sound, ultrasound haptic devices and scent cartridges creating multi-sensory experiences.

And to help you get things done, AI systems will hang on the wall delivering news and weather info, and enabling you to ask questions or carry out admin tasks.

Finally in the bedroom, if you need to disconnect from the online world Ikea envisages Wi-Fi blocking drapes that can be hung around the bed. Smart mattresses will continue monitoring your biological processes, while bio-adaptive lamps tune into your body clock to help you drift off to sleep, or wake you at the best point in your sleep cycle. And in the morning, Ohea foresees mechanical arms that make your bed for you.