Boundary-less workplaces must offer contextual, personalised workspaces

'Boundary-less' workplaces must offer contextual, personalised workspacesThe future workplace will replace familiar, rigid hierarchies and departments with small, collaborative networks of teams and the lines between individual organisations and ecosystems will blur as companies increasingly cast their net wider to innovate. This is one of the predictions made in a Fujitsu-commissioned whitepaper ‘Workplace 2025’ which argues that businesses must rethink social and technology strategies to plan for the future workplace – or risk being left behind. To appeal to future employees with the right skills, the whitepaper, which was produced by European research firm Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC) advises that businesses must ensure they are moving towards an environment that provides contextual, personalised workspaces aligned to the individual needs of users. At the same time, they should plan to encourage enhanced peer collaboration by implementing technologies such as augmented reality. The Workplace 2025 report foresees that today’s organisational structures will become more agile, adapting to constantly-changing economic conditions, competitive landscapes and customer demands.

The whitepaper also argues that businesses will soon face a ‘war for talent’ and struggle to attract employees to fill the pending skills gap. It also warns that unless companies start planning for the workplace of the future by embracing the so-called ‘boundary-less’ business, they will face growing talent recruitment challenges. The focus for workplace strategies will widen from driving individual user productivity to enabling prolific collaboration and co-creation on both a small and industry-wide scale, while also supporting health and wellness.

Conway Kosi, Head of Managed Infrastructure Services EMEIA at Fujitsu, comments: “There is a real and present danger that employers without appropriate workplace technology strategies are going to find themselves left behind in the war for talent – because they simply won’t be able to attract people to work in what will be seen as increasingly antiquated working conditions and practices.

“The workforce of the future expects highly flexible IT that will accommodate their chosen way of working in a seamless manner – IT that supports more effective, richer collaboration with peers both inside the business and across the wider industry. Companies need to realise that the strategic decisions relating to both technology and the social side of workplace transformation they make today will have a major impact on their future options for building or joining business ecosystems, in terms of attracting workers with the right skills. Unless you’re a ‘boundary-less’ business, you’ll be left behind.”

The agility of the ‘boundary-less’ workplace

Today’s familiar, rigid hierarchies and departments will be replaced with small, collaborative networks of teams composed of internal and external freelancers, connected via unified communication platforms and supported by intelligent assistants. Individual employees will no longer be defined by a single role, since their contribution and workstyle will dynamically adapt to meet shifting requirements on different tasks. Furthermore, businesses will need to overhaul traditional office layouts to incorporate more collaborative spaces, using virtual and augmented reality to enhance meetings. And when the workplace is no longer tied to a physical location, biometrics will play a more prominent role in securing access to enterprise data and applications, allowing people to seamlessly access applications from any device, anywhere.

Crowdsourced recruitment

This increased fluidity will affect not only the types of skills required, but also the recruitment process to secure the right talent. The whitepaper predicts that, in 2025, the fastest-growing businesses will be those able to instantly identify and tap into skills from a truly global talent pool. The process of finding the right workers will transition from placing individuals in defined roles, into the global crowdsourcing of freelance skills. Online platforms will match employers with freelancers as the primary channel for recruitment, and businesses will increasingly lean on advanced artificial intelligence and its sophisticated algorithms to identify individuals with the right skills for each project.

The constant process of rapidly building teams of all sizes requires a robust but flexible technology platform that enables workers to be rapidly authenticated, using biometric data, and authorised to use relevant tools and systems.

Blurring of lines between industries

Workplace 2025 whitepaper author Nick Mayes, a Research Director at PAC, says: “One crucial thing for companies to recognise is that the workplace of the future will also extend beyond organisations’ own company walls. The lines between individual organisations and ecosystems will blur, as companies increasingly cast their net wider to innovate. New digital ecosystems will be forged from cross-industry partnerships that address customer needs in new ways – for example a financial services company might propose a mortgage, then connect the customer to an estate agent and removals firm, providing an end-to-end service.”

Forging and extending these networks will place fresh demands on the technology required to support this new order, as systems will need to span organisational boundaries to open up core business applications to external partners. Managing inter-company file sharing to enable a higher level of collaboration will require enhanced security to ensure the protection of intellectual property.

As a result of these changing demands, Fujitsu expects technology partners to play the role of helping businesses manage these new, wider ecosystems, while also handling other challenges such as security and financial risk management. Companies will require the technology foundations of a platform and need a framework to rapidly plug in to the available services and skills. This model of digital co-creation carries the potential to deliver much greater business value than the rigid contractual models that dominate the market today.

You can access the full whitepaper here.