Future Friday: Five Trends Shaping the Future of Work

Five trends are shaping the future of work.
Five trends are shaping the future of work.

Heads up HR! Information Week is telling Chief Information Officers about trends that are going to shape the future of work. This is stuff that you should be sharing with you CIOs! So here are the trends, how CIOs should deal with them and my tips on how HR can advise them.

The Trends

None of these trends should be a surprise if you have been reading Future Friday for the past two years. They include:

Trend # 1- New behaviors

There is no surprise that new behaviors are and will continue to develop around technology in the workplace or in society in general. All you have to do is walk around and observe. I was leaving the movie theater the other night and as I stood up to leave there were still a dozen people sitting in their seats. What do you think they were doing? All of them were looking at their “phones”. Author Jacob Morgan suggests that CIOs need to “Make sure that the gap between employees’ personal lives and their work lives starts to close. The technologies that the business uses need to emulate those that employees are used to in their personal lives.” We in HR have been aware of that and are having to deal with issues of nonexempt employees working overtime from their own device and the security issues with having company information on personal devices. Morgan also says “The CIO also needs to work with lines of business to make sure that the corporate culture is in sync with the capabilities that new technologies allow.” This is certainly an area that HR can work with the CIO on.

Trend # 2- New Technologies

Morgan says “Big data analytics, the cloud, collaboration platforms, the Internet of Things, robots, and automation are all prevalent in workplaces today.” Employees have a tendency to download software to their devices that, in the past, have not been company approved. We in HR have dealt with this in the past by making sure employees know they are not supposed to do this in order to protect the integrity of the system. Morgan says that CIOs have responded by shutting these “rogues” as soon as they find them. That is a wrong-headed move according to Morgan. He says rather that CIOs should embrace these new technologies, find out why people use them and see how they can be incorporated to the best advantage of the company. For many organizations that would be a major change in culture. HR can help foster such a culture of collaboration.

Trend # 3- A Growing Millennial Workforce

Yep, if your CIO doesn’t know that then HR has missed the boat. Most of the other trends in this list are a result of that changing demographic. As Morgan points out “…many Millennials are digital natives who have never seen a cubicle or legacy technologies and don’t know what it’s like to receive 200-plus emails a day.” Morgan also makes the statement “In order to attract and retain top talent, CIOs must focus on creating an organization where people want to work, rather than assuming that employees need to work there. CIOs must adjust the way they manage Millennials, too, such as adopting real-time feedback and flexible work environments, and being open to new ways of communication and collaboration.” Wait a minute I thought all that was HR’s responsibility! If your CIO is taking this over you need to work on your collaboration skills. It won’t be too much longer before your CIO is a millennial worker.

Trend # 4- Mobility

It is no secret that people crave connectedness and to do that they have to be able to have a device that provides that anywhere and anytime. The challenge to the CIO is keep up with the changing technologies. The challenge of HR is to also keep up and to work with the CIO on the people issues such as training on devices, security procedures and privacy issues.

Trend # 5- Globalization

Morgan writes “The CIO must evaluate and rethink conventional business practices. Operating in a world without boundaries means CIOs have access to a global talent pool. The CIO must be privy to technologies that build and maintain effective, distributed teams around the world.” Well if the CIO is thinking about nonconventional business practices and talent pools then HR needs to as well. A global team made up of employees or contractors spread around the world presents many HR challenges such as compensation, communication, compliance, collaboration and culture. These are not exactly the strong points of skill or interests for CIOs. It had better be for HR.


Morgan ends his piece by saying it is going to be an interesting period for the CIO. It has already gotten that way for HR. Why not team up with the CIO to work together on these issues? I think both parties will be helped considerably by the collaboration.

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