Watch any old science fiction movie and you’ll come away with at least two conclusions: no one had any idea what the future would hold, and the future is now.
Many of the developments we take for granted today were things even science fiction writers never dreamed of. From cell phones to driverless cars, we continue to progress into the great unknown in leaps and bounds.
With so many changes to technology over the past few decades, you might wonder how to future-proof yourself and your business when you don’t know what’s going to happen next.
Don’t worry – there are ways to make yourself ready for the unknown. History favors those open to change. Keeping a pulse on new tech and emerging culture can help you not only survive the future, but thrive in it.
Future-proofing your workforce
Over the past calendar year, many organizations have been through massive changes in the way they work and where they work. The workplace is no longer just a brick and mortar structure meant to house staff temporarily during their nine to five jobs; rather, workplaces are becoming vessels of innovation when it comes to sustainability and scalability.
It’s natural to feel insecure in your job with the continuing rise of technology. Jobs are becoming redundant and people are losing work as they are pushed out by machines. However, competition against technology is nothing new.
Some job duties have been in flux because of increasing innovation for the past few centuries. While some people were able to adapt when their roles became obsolete, others weren’t as fortunate. Still, this led to more innovation for the future of work.
The way to future-proof a job is not by holding on tight to your industry. Instead, you need to find ways to be flexible as time progresses and job functions change. Despite some job functions becoming redundant, 33% of children entering grade school today will have a job that hasn’t been invented yet.
How is it that some people find themselves quickly out of a job while others always seem to have new opportunities and more work than they can handle? The answer is that some people future-proof their job skills while others try to fight against the future.
If you have the right skills, you can prepare yourself for any job. If you own a business, you can help prepare your employees by choosing those that have these future-proofing skills and encouraging others to adopt the same mentality. Let’s discuss a few ways to do just that.
Develop interpersonal skills
Technology can take over most repetitive tasks, but it cannot replace emotional intelligence. Business leaders need to choose people with soft skills that make them valuable. Listening skills, empathy, responsiveness, and self-awareness are all hallmarks of emotional intelligence.
If much of your current job is repetitive, it’s likely it will eventually be replaced. While machines can easily take on some job functions – especially those that are redundant – creativity is something that machines can’t replicate. This makes human team members indispensable to their companies.
Encourage your team to develop critical thinking skills to become a long-lasting asset to the workforce. Cultivate decision-making and problem-solving skills to gather and evaluate information for complex situations.
Workers who continue to come up with innovative and inventive solutions to add value to your company will be able to adapt even if technology replaces their current role.
Creativity and critical thinking are job skills that won’t become obsolete even if a job does. There are even benefits to creative job titles in the workplace as we’re seeing new roles emerge every day to accommodate the changing needs of the workforce.
There is a well-known saying that goes: “Be stubborn with your goals, but flexible with your methods.” Employees of the future need to become more open to change and adapt to situations.
In order to fit into a new job function, employees must be able to learn new skills and expand their knowledge base accordingly. To do that, workers of the future must be willing to upskill and reskill any way they can. Courses, self-teaching, and mentorship are just a few ways to become indispensable to a company.
Office and workplace design trends
If you’ve ever watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, you’d expect offices to be in space by this point. Modern offices are extremely technically advanced even if they lack flight capabilities.
A future-proof workforce needs to be in a place also designed with the future in mind. Workers cannot be as productive and future-focused if their workplace place is uninspiring and dated. Let’s discuss how you can future-proof your office design to make sure your business is changing with the times.
Transform your office reception
How well you design your office is obvious from the moment you walk in the door. Your office reception sets the tone for your whole work environment. Create a safe and secure future-proof reception area for better customer service and a more effective way to meet clients.
Inside of the office
Thankfully, the sterile-white offices movies had envisioned for the future could not be further from reality. The offices of today are sleek, but also bring nature indoors and offer a warmer touch.
Workplace trends are more than just a way to make your company look great from the inside. They also help solve office space dilemmas. From increasing productivity, encouraging collaboration, to enabling technology, a future-proof office design can build a better company.
Some office trends to look out for include:
- Moving away from a one-size-fits-all for a hybrid model
- Leaving short-term thinking to get a broader array of solutions
- Cross-functional cooperation and solutions
- Tenant experience
- A focus on company culture
- Stepping away from productivity in order to focus on creativity
- An environment revolving around wellness
- Smart occupancy
- Integrating best-of-breed software for unprecedented solutions
By keeping an eye on the future of design, you can make sure that your space continues to inspire your deepest core values and propels your company.
The paperless office
A future-proof office moves away from paper. It’s ineffective, messy, and not environmentally friendly. Plus, the transition away from paper isn’t as daunting as you may think. Here are some reasons you may want to consider becoming a paperless office.
On average, people spend six months of their lives looking for missing items. Stop looking for missing papers and important documents by switching to a paperless office model. You’ll have everything you need at your fingertips in a digital platform.
Whether with a coworker or customer, it’s easier to share documents and paperwork when you go paperless. If someone calls in sick or is away from the office, you still have easy access to any paperwork you need. Also, you’ll save customers the headache of going back and forth with faxing, scanning, or paper mailing documents.
Enhanced office design
Office design helps create a better work environment and sets the tone for potential customers. Stacks of papers and cluttered messes send the message that you are behind the times and potentially disorganized. No customer wants to work with an organization that can’t keep its documents straight.
Going paperless makes it easier to sign documents, save time on filing and organizing, and find documents. Paperless workplaces allow you and your team to work faster and more efficiently than ever.
Reduced business costs
A paperless office also saves more money than just the cost of paper. It saves employee time, which comes at a cost for companies. It also saves the cost of storing and organizing files by reducing the materials (paper, ink, etc.) you’ll need to purchase.
One way you can make a positive impact is by forgoing paper. Not only does it save the damage in the environment to make the paper, but ink cartridges and printers can be harmful as well. Did you know it takes three quarts of oil to create each inkjet cartridge? Not only will going paperless help the environment, but it will create a better image of your company and brand.
Boosting productivity for the future
The future is ultimate productivity. In fact, labor productivity rose 6% in the first quarter of 2019 alone. To keep up, companies need to find ways to encourage productivity in their workers.
Your office design can contribute to the productivity of your workers. An inspiring environment can help relieve anxiety, re-energize the team, and encourage company values.
Some ways to encourage productivity with your design:
- Reflect the corporate DNA. Your design should reflect your company. Paying homage to your roots and incorporating fun reminders of what you do should be inherent into the design of your office.
- Unconventional office designs. Get workers out of their comfort zones in how you design your office. Hot-desking, brainstorming islands, and communal tables all open up collaboration and boost productivity.
- Science-based designs. Productivity doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark. There is a lot of research out there on what makes people more productive. For example, standing for meetings reduces unproductive time by 34%.
- Integrate technology. Accommodate tech, such as charging stations, into the overall design of the office. It will help improve the aesthetic while allow work to be done effectively.
- Nature-inspired. Bringing the outdoors in can have a positive effect on the workers well-being and mood. Nature helps bring the calm that employees need to be productive.
However, future-proof productivity goes beyond technology. Having the basics down, without technology, means that you can be productive no matter what the future brings.
Although apps and other tech can certainly boost productivity, it starts with being the most productive you can to begin. Have your life to get the most out of your work in the least amount of time:
- Work in layers. Stop trying to compartmentalize your life. Instead, use each part to inspire the rest.
- Take breaks. The Pomodoro method is popular for a reason: it works. By planning breaks ahead of time, you will improve both motivation and speed while you work.
- Walk it out. Walking can give your creativity a much-needed boost. If you’re planning your breaks, consider also taking a walk to be more productive.
- The 5-minute rule. Give yourself five minutes to start a task. This rule helps overcome procrastination and mental resistance.
- Get some shuteye. Sleep is crucial for productivity. It can also help you problem-solve and make better decisions.
- Games. Games help with relaxation. Anxiety can harm productivity. Games also develop concentration and critical thinking, essential for being productive.
Office management tools
Office management tools can make or break a company. Management is the face of leadership to most of your clients and sets the tone for the office. By giving your office management the tools they need to be future-forward, you create a ripple effect for the rest of your office.
Workforce of the future
If organizations are serious about keeping their staff happy, healthy, and productive, the employee experience will have to become a higher priority than ever. This will touch everything from workplace technology meant to make employees’ lives easier to fostering a culture of inclusivity and purpose. The new world of work is present all around us, and there’s really no stopping it. These are exciting and extraordinary times that business leaders should be embracing.
The next generation of workplace communication
Even though the way that people show up to work changes, effective communication is still a top priority. However, technology continues to transform the way that we communicate with each other. It allows us to chat anytime, anywhere. From emails to apps, the next generation of workplace communication is here:
- Smart email is more than an electronic message now. There are calendar evites, app integration, Boomerang and more to make it even more connected.
- Messenger platforms are the future of communication. Slack changed the way offices chat, but they are far from the only option now.
- Cloud computing let employees collaborate and send information remotely.
- Video conferencing allows teams to meet and collaborate face-to-face from anywhere.
- Customer AI helps employees communicate more effectively with customers right on your website.
However, all of this technology means that there is new terrain to navigate. How do you leverage this technology most effectively?
Is remote work right for you?
Remote work is the newest trend in work culture. In fact, 36% of employees would choose remote work over a pay raise. Companies are happy to provide a perk that doesn’t cost them any more money. Win-win, right?
Not so fast. Remote work may not be ideal for many situations. Some obstacles include:
- Increased self-discipline
- Work-life imbalance
- Increased distractions
- More intentional workplace relationships
Remote work takes much more intentionality than most people realize. Companies need to set guidelines to help employees work effectively.
Flexibility might be more ideal than remote work in most situations. For example, some companies require that everyone is in the office from 11am- 4pm and work eight hours, but are flexible on when people come in and leave.
Running successful virtual meetings
One thing most sci-fi movies did get right? Meetings don’t have to have everyone physically present. Virtual meetings are an essential part of workplace communication. They are cost-effective and efficient to communicate with customers and remote workers. Plus, they encourage better collaboration: 87% of remote team members feel more connected to their team with video conferencing.
However, video meetings are still uncomfortable for many employees and leaders. A little preparation though, will ensure that it is a success. Some tips for your next virtual meeting include:
- Finding the right online platform.
- Figuring out if audio-only is fine or video is more appropriate.
- Sending a meeting agenda in advance.
- Testing everything the day before your meeting.
- Making sure you have privacy.
- Recording your meeting.
2. Multicultural client base
The rise in technology has made the world smaller than ever. International mobility is on the rise as technology makes people around the world more available than ever. To keep up with the future, then, you need a thorough understanding of your client base and any cultural differences. Some tips on how to grow your multicultural client base include:
Leverage the language rxpertise of your team
Customers are more comfortable speaking their own language, so you can give better customer service. For example, a customer is more inclined to complain in their native language.
Understand cultural differences in customer service
Different cultures have different expectations for great customer service. In America, for example, speed is key. For many European countries, though, they may care more about accuracy than how quickly you reply.
Other differences to consider include the use of informalities, whether to address by their first or last name, or how to address their gender. Culture is like a fish in water: we take it for granted. Get perspective and run things by someone of the same culture as your customer base. You’ll probably be surprised by the differences.
Consider product development
How you develop products in another country is something to consider. Americans, for example, love to be on the cutting-edge of technology and are happy to beta-test. Other cultures would rather have something already fleshed-out. Likewise, multi-language features are helpful with multicultural clients. They will be able to understand you and your product better if they can read about it in their first language.
3. The five-star corporate experience
Most sci-fi movies pictured a dystopian future where the tough hero has to fight to survive. The reality is the opposite, though. Instead of the rough-and-tumble world, people expect more comfort than ever and tech to help them live their best lives.
The future is personalization. Customers now expect a personalized experience based on their needs. We can take a page, then, from the corporations that started it all: 5-star hotels. They have a long history of delivering a personalized experience in their customer service that makes them stand out.
The five-star corporate experience has great advantages for your business:
- Customer loyalty
- Better company culture
There are several ways to deliver a five-star experience to your customers. First, keep at a detailed record about each client. Data has made this easier than ever as we can easily keep tabs on our customer.
Next, harness technology to send reminders about appointments and updates. It’s small details like reminders that separate a good customer experience from a five-star one. Last, keep a friendly first impression. Personable doormen or receptionists will make a profound difference in the customer’s thoughts on your company.
Customer service and five-star corporate experiences are no longer optional for organizations. The ones that get ahead are the ones that take special care for their customers.