Employee Benefits Connect: Work environment will change radically

The changing role of the office environment, the different factors impacting staff motivation and developments in technology are all driving the future of work, according to doctor Nicola Millard, customer experience futurologist at BT Group.

During the closing keynote presentation at Employee Benefits Connect, Millard (pictured) said: “Choice and control are two major themes we are looking at into the future.”

Work is no longer constrained to the hours of nine to five because of globalisation and the need for staff to work across different time zones, she said. There are also more opportunities for staff to work flexibly or away from the office.

But staff can become stressed if they are not visible in the office at all times, so feel they need to be contactable, said Millard. For office-based staff, Millard said the rise in multi-tasking as staff try to do more with limited capacities means there is more potential for them to become distracted, for example by managers or colleagues, particularly in open-plan offices.

To overcome this, individuals should re-educate colleagues about their communication preferences, for example whether they prefer to be contacted via telephone or email so they can respond at a convenient time, she said.

Meanwhile, the new breed of workspaces is focused on activity, said Millard. This means employers should think about what their staff do and find the most appropriate location. “Move to the space that supports the task,” she said.

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Technological developments are also affecting how people work. Millard said most employees now have access to better technology and devices at home than at work, so may want to use these for work purposes. HR professionals therefore need to consider security around employees working in this way. Using cloud technology for storage, for example, can lessen security risks, said Millard.