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The workplace of the future

I was at a workshop last week conducted by Prof Ashish Nanda [1] and Prof Biju Varkkey [2] - and it was an enlightening experience. There was one thought which came from them towards the end of the session which has been reverberating in my mind ever since. This was about the future of the workplace.

In response to a question about handling the 'new generation' Prof Nanda mentioned that most of the theories and media talk about the Millennials or Next Generation being different and changing the workplace is bunkum; but what he said next was insightful - the workplace of the future will not be influenced so much by the entry or the new generation but by 3 factors:

  • Women in the workforce - for the first time in the history of mankind we are going to have a large number of women who would have spent more than 30 years at Corporate and Academic careers. Many of them have reached or are reaching leadership positions and the workplace is going to be far different with so many women change makers, thought leaders and bosses. 
  • The post-retirement workforce - with improved health and increased life expectancy, it is quite unfair for us to retire our senior citizens at an age of 60. In fact, several powerful and influential leaders in business and public life are past their 60s and continue to make an impact on how we live our lives and how we will live them in future. And the way trends are, it is more likely that we will see more and more people working in their prime past their 60s. How do we work with these people and how do they influence the workplace is to be seen.
  • Technology - The current workplace is already heavily influenced by technology, but this is possibly just the beginning. Virtual teams, Teleworking, and use of Social media may be rewiring our brains as individuals, but it will rewire our work-life completely in the next two decades. There are new ways of working and new professions, but older professions may change the way they work. The opposing forces of personalization and globalization will give rise to a new set of expectations and mannerisms. Much has been written about this and need not be elaborated. 
The third trend has been apparent to most of us for long, but I never realized how the first two are far more fundamental to the workplace of tomorrow. Thank you Prof Nanda and Prof Varkkey for the excellent two days!

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