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BW Businessworld

The Trend Shapers

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The office is not going to die. Certainly not. But it is going to be radically different from what it is today. It’s not just going to be the place where work gets done, but also where workers congregate, socialise — a place that will stimulate thinking, forecasts Sahil Varma, COO, Regus. The office of tomorrow will become a hub, a place to go to for face-to-face interactions with colleagues, while several spokes will emerge.

At the hub, the designs will get funkier as technology makes dramatic inroads. The mundane office chairs and desks will be replaced by furniture with tech interfaces — who knows, it could be a cocooned pod? There might be touchscreen-enabled walls, driven by social technologies, on which collaborative work could be done. Access to resources (how quickly you can print, video-conference) will also shape the workplace. Coca-Cola India’s VP, HR, Sameer Wadhawan, predicts that 24x7 work-life integration will be viewed as an opportunity. Google’s Sharad Goyal says organisations will no longer be in a position to dictate to workers. The choice will move to employees. Companies are gearing up in different ways for Workplace 2020. Captured here are some of the trends shaping the future workplace, seen through the lens of HR heads.

TAILORED TO TIME
Yash Mahadik, HR head, Indian subcontinent, Philips

English will remain the predominant business language. Phone, Skype interactions will remain, but the way we work will change. The future of working will be tailor-made to your time. The aim of work will be to ensure an impact on customers — not to just fill office with people. Everyone will have clearly defined objectives, and if that objective is strong, you can build your work processes without filling offices up with people.

ONE TO ONE
James Thomas, country manager, India sales, Kronos 

As industries mature, there is standardisation and sameness. Companies begin treating all employees the same way. But human beings are not the same. In every other function, we have moved towards person­alisation and embraced the concept of one to one. Differentiation and segmentation will drive workplace philosophies. From a technology perspective, the future office will be a completely inclusive multichannel workplace where devices are going to drive information exchange and accountability.

AGILE AND DYNAMIC
Ravi Shankar, EVP & chief people officer, Mindtree

Work is becoming agile and dynamic. Workspace technology is helping by becoming more collaborative. Take MS Office. It allows 4-5 people to work on one document. My marketing team
can get 20 responses on a campaign in next to no time from across the globe on a single shared document. More such technologies will come in, especially social techno­logies. Work processes are becoming social and mobile-enabled. They are also becoming gamified.

TECH UPGRADES
Anand Bhaskar, vice-president, people success, Sapient India

Over the next 3-5 years, most people systems (IT) might move to mobile phones or the watch (as the case may be). Apps are here to stay for a while, and the more HR is able to innovate with the times, the more the workplace will move away from the physical office to mobile ­phones, digital watches, tablets, etc. We will see more and more technology adoption, upgradation and changes, app-based tools to support a mobile environment and integration of personal and work spaces.

QUICK TO REACT
B.P. Biddappa, executive director, HR, HUL

Connectivity — wired as well as physical — is a key trend not just among employees, but consumers. Another trend is agility; people do not want structure but want to be able to work from wherever, however. The future workplace also has to provide a wholesome experience. Envi­r­on­ment and sustainability will also drive future offices. People want you (companies) to be responsible. The fifth trend is responsi­veness, which is about how quickly you can react to and resolve an issue. And, finally, it is about getting the customer or the outside world inside.

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 16-12-2013)