The workplace of the future
Philip Gregory, Senior Regional Executive: Johnson Controls GWS, Middle East & Africa, talks about the workplace of the future, how it will impact the workforce and how businesses can navigate the tension between employee demands and the needs of the corporation.
How is the workplace changing?
Since the 1990s, technological advancements have revolutionised the workplace.
Twenty-five years ago, the office was a place of fax machines, fixed telephone landlines and bulky monitors. The first website had yet to be launched, and the working day was 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Today, electronic communications are the norm and smartphones, notebooks and tablets have mobilised the workforce. Video conferences are commonplace and flexible working is gaining acceptance.
These trends will continue to change the way we work in the future. Technology will make us even more agile, connected and mobile. The globalisation of business will significantly change working times, and the workforce will demand more flexibility in terms of how, where and when they work.
What will the workplace be like in the future?
Johnson Controls Global WorkPlace Solutions’ new “Smart Workplace 2040” research attempts to answer that exact question. This research points to a radically different world, where the traditional confines of geography and time no longer dictate our daily interactions.
In 2040, work will be something we do, not somewhere we go. Workers will have higher expectations around choice, experience and fluidity. Flexible contracts will be the norm, with employees measured on output rather than input. Long commutes and rigid hours will be a thing of the past.
Workers will choose their workplace; this might include working from home, an eco-campus, a club or one of a network of connected offices. Workers will visit different locations depending on whether they want to concentrate, innovate or collaborate. Environments will be controlled in accordance with an individual’s mood, body temperature and blood pressure to ensure maximum levels of productivity.
How will this impact employers?
Our research reveals that for organisations to attract top talent, they must put flexibility at the centre of their workplace offerings. However, while employees might expect choice, employers will need to retain workforce cohesion, energy, passion and corporate identity.
We are already starting to see this tension today. Organisations are wrestling with the notion of mobile working and a perceived loss of corporate connection, buzz and energy. Some global businesses have stressed how collaboration and innovation thrive best when workers are together, and have taken steps to restrict flexible working.
In the future, this tension will intensify. Balance and compromises will have to be reached to achieve the best outcomes for both parties.
How should businesses respond?
The demand for wider choices will have implications for property portfolios. This may take the form of a network of connected workplaces, distributed according to workers’ home locations. Industry will need to consider how this type of network can be supported and serviced so that knowledge workers can thrive and collaborate effectively.
As workers become increasingly accustomed to greater choice, they will expect less formal working environments. Workplaces of the future could well have a club-like feel; they will be open and attractive, and include highly experiential, multi-zone areas designed to enhance the working lifestyle.
Building occupation will not be a constant, so businesses will need to draw on metrics regarding office use. Consequently, financiers, owners and real-estate developers will need to factor fluidity of occupation into their portfolios.
Industry leaders should already be thinking about balancing the desires of the workforce with future business needs. This will ensure that workplaces are fit for tomorrow’s workers and also fit for businesses of the future.
About Johnson Controls
Johnson Controls is a global diversified technology and industrial leader serving customers in more than 150 countries. Our 170,000 employees create quality products, services and solutions to optimise energy and operational efficiencies of buildings; lead-acid automotive batteries and advanced batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles; and interior systems for automobiles. In 2013, Corporate Responsibility Magazine recognised Johnson Controls as the #14 company in its annual "100 Best Corporate Citizens" list. For additional information, please visit http://www.johnsoncontrols.com.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.