Why you must take advantage of cultural shifts in the workplace

The future of the workplace is changing, and making sense of this new world of business will differentiate successful organisations from those lagging behind, argues Sophie Turton.

The future of the workplace is changing and making sense of this new world of business will differentiate successful organisations from those lagging behind, according to a recent study by IBM.

To tap into the potential power of the workforce in the 21st century, organisations need to look at a variety of different factors and assess how each are evolving. Here are three main areas of focus to help you to take full advantage of cultural shifts in the workplace.

The rise of the millennial in the workplace

By 2020, it is estimated that millennials – those born between 1980 and 2000 – will form 50 per cent of the global workforce. It is therefore increasingly important for organisations to understand the expectations of this generation. A recent survey by PWC says, ‘Millennials tend to be uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures and turned off by information silos. They expect rapid progression, a varied and interesting career and constant feedback. In other words, millennials want a management style and corporate culture that is markedly different from anything that has gone before – one that meets their needs.’

Companies that have proven the value of adapting to these new expectations such as Google, Zappos and Apple have found themselves not only attracting some of the top young talent within their industry, but retaining them. They are naturally innovative employers that, instead of focussing specifically on targeting millennials, have created a management structure and company culture that naturally appeals to them.

The top five most attractive job aspects for millennials are:

  • Opportunities for career progression
  • Competitive wages/other financial incentives
  • Excellent training/development programmes
  • Good benefits packages
  • Flexible working arrangements

Technological advancement

Technology is considered one of the three ‘mega trends’ that are shaping the business world of tomorrow. A recent report by the Economist says, ‘New business models will emerge on the back of technology advances, and organisational structures and the nature of many jobs will change. Not all will prosper, however: nearly four in ten survey respondents worry that their organisations will not keep pace with technology change and will lose their competitive edge.’

Technology that offers up greater mobility and flexibility will continue to transform the way people do business. Keeping on top of technological trends will help you to understand your audience better. Social media can be used for research and prospecting, online buying habits can be mapped and analysed and there has never been more consumer data so readily available to organisations.

Taking advantage of this data will mean the difference between companies that succeed and those that do not. As a result, investing in appropriate software and skilled employees should be an important part of any successful business plan.


The UK is going through what Monica Parker refers to as a ‘trust crisis’ in the workplace, caused by the imbalance between our home and work lives, the steady increase in extra costs such as childcare and a lack of autonomy in many job roles.

The concept that workers need to spend eight hours at their desks in order to constitute working is having negative effects on the motivation of employees. With a new focus on flexible working, companies are encouraged to promote a more autonomous attitude to work, which will help to create a more productive workplace.

Even when flexible working is not a viable option, it is important to understand that employees now expect more balance between their home and work lives, as well as to ensure a positive work environment. By creating a more open and trusting culture, you will in turn develop a healthier, more engaged and happier workforce.

Further reading on office and homeworking

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