Last week I was traveling through London for a little R&R and while walking the streets I couldn’t help but look at the busy Londoners in their fancy pin strip suites, and then began to wonder: has today’s worker really changed? Here I was in a new country and I saw the same type of worker I’d see near our office on Wall Street. Is London just too similar to New York or has all the talk about the changing workforce been a lie? For the past few years we’ve heard so much about how the workforce is changing. With globalization, the baby boomer exodus, a constricted view of immigration, and the increase of telecommuters, we’ve been told to believe that today’s worker is supposed to be much different than the worker of the past. Have we been wrong all this time?
Fast forward a week. I’m back in NY and reading the latest issue of BusinessWeek and come across an article about how organizations are turning to on-demand offices to save money on office space. The idea behind this is that rather than get stuck in an old-fashioned affair of 3-5 year leases, organizations are outsourcing chunks of their corporate real estate to third-party outfits specializing in providing everything you need, from info-tech departments, phone lines, sleek furnishing, and even receptionists.
After recovering from my trip (and still wishing I was there), I began to put everything together. The similarity in the workforce in London and New York and the BusinessWeek article helped me realize that yes, the workforce is changing. We just haven’t seen the changes with our own eyes – yet. In time I predict we’ll see a major shift in the workforce, and not just the changes we’ve been told to expect.
The idea of an “office” will become obsolete because workers will be prompted to work from home to cut down on office space, 9-5 schedules will be a thing of the past and workers will be measured on productivity (just look at Best Buy and their Results Oriented Work Environment), and not on how much time they spend in the office, and finally, geographical barriers will be broken down even further. Long gone will be the days of having a co-worker sitting around the corner, instead he or she will be in London, Tokyo, or heck even in Omaha, Nebraska.