The opportunities are here now, and there will certainly be more to come in 2025. Thanks to state-of-the-art ICT equipment and systems, technologies will be able to communicate independently with each other. In the age of the laptop, tablet and smartphone, companies and their employees will benefit from greater freedom in doing their work. Experts estimate that three-quarters of the Dutch workforce already works in a sector that lends itself to flexible working. The expectation is that about two-thirds of office workers will work from home in 2025. This, in turn, means that companies worldwide will be able to significantly reduce their office space. It is expected that in the future an average of only 6.7 desks will be needed for every ten employees. Obviously, a physical working environment will still be essential, but it will be joined by a virtual environment and a social / mental environment that will become other important ingredients of a successful new working environment.
The virtual organisation focuses on the employee
Virtual organisational structures are an important component of the virtual environment in which the employee can be seen as a source of inspiration, content creation and talent sourcing.
According to Lucia Falkenberg, HR Manager and expert for the Competence Group New Work at the eco Association, digitizing is the centre of the new way to work. Demographic changes, the shrinking number of specialised workers and globalisation confront us with the need for labour innovation. In fact, the potential labour force in the Netherlands is expected to decrease in size between 2014 and
2040 (source: CBS over 2014-2060). The percentage of 20 – 64 year-olds is projected to decrease from 60% in 2013 to 52% in 2040; a decrease of almost 79,000 people.
“In Germany alone, the number of employable people will decrease to 6.5 million by 2025. This development will result in a system that allows for the most highly skilled knowledge workers to be able to choose their employers.” Lucia Falkenberg
This transformation will mean that operating conditions will have to be adapted to suit the needs of the workers. A better balance between work and home, for example, would enable highly qualified professional women to “go to work” and thus reduce the psychological stress caused by the gap that exists today between work and private life.
There will be a much higher demand for flexible work styles in 2025. The results of an empirical study conducted by the Fraunhofer IAO indicate that in 2025 70 percent of workers will consider "a functioning work-life balance" to be an important status symbol.
Nevertheless, The New Way to Work is both a saviour and a curse in one. While the employers will allow their staff greater flexibility in executing their tasks, they will expect more flexibility from the employees in return. Experts agree that this will generally lead to longer working hours than the traditional 9-to-5 culture we have today. Perhaps this is why they often warn against always being accessible through the dual use of smartphones and other systems. This can result in employees feeling as if their employers “own” them 24 hours a day.
The virtual working environment
By 2025, we will have all realized that a workplace physically no longer has to be an office. It will still be important for employees to be able to work together and share information, regardless of device or location. The workplace can then even be the lounger in the backyard where the employee can read through the minutes of a meeting.
The reduction in the workforce with respect to highly skilled knowledge workers will soon result in a situation in which the employee will be able to choose between employers. Furthermore, the unbridled growth of flexible workers / freelancers will also result in a more casual relationship with employers. In fact, it will be much more likely that an employee will be working for multiple employers at the same time!
Platforms for virtual environments
These and similar developments require action to be taken in order to continue to bind employees to the company. Due to their immense versatility, platforms such as TYPO3 CMS or the Neos-based Social Intranet from the Dutch open source ICT company Youwe are ideally suited for organising virtual work environments such that employees can work from any location and from any device.
A standard intranet or extranet, on the other hand, is hardly a virtual working environment that responds to the current and future labour market and working environment. Both are often inaccessible on specific devices or won’t work on devices owned by employees.This is a guest post by Ric van Westhreenen, vice-president TYPO3 Association.
Ric van Westhreenen has his academic degrees in social sciences and consumer behavior. He has written numerous articles about online marketing, content management and open source. He is the vice-president of the TYPO3 Association, a non-profit organisation that represents the interests of organisations using TYPO3 software like TYPO3, Neos and Flow. Ric van Westhreenen founded his first company in 1997, and a few others before switching to Dutch open source internet company YOUWE. He lives in the Netherlands.