Businesses must prioritise managing intellectual property and flexibility of work time and location to control organisational change over the next 10 years, according to the latest report from the Orange Future Enterprise coalition. “The way to work: space, place and technology in 2016” sets out the challenges to business of the future in light of evolving social, economic, political and organisational pressures.
The report presents four future “worlds” of work, scenarios depicting what organisations may look like by 2016. The scenarios are defined by the relationship between workers and employers. Their ownership of information and ability to determine where and when work takes place will create the character of future workplaces. The four scenarios are:
- “Disciples of the Cloud”: Businesses control all intellectual property and determine where and when work takes place.
- “Electronic Cottages”: Businesses control all intellectual property, but workers are able to determine where, when and how they work.
- “Replicants”: Businesses depend on specialist consultants, their expertise and intellectual property. Work is much less predictable and reliable, but workers are free to choose where, when and how much they work.
- “Mutual Worlds”: Businesses operate as cooperatives of independent contractors. Intellectual property is controlled by workers, who focus on small local ventures, often connected to networks of similar ventures elsewhere to give scale.
The report states that all organisations will adopt some elements of all four scenarios to a greater or lesser extent. The most successful will balance business imperatives with the requirements of workers.
The challenges – Recommendations
The report suggests that companies which take steps to embrace the future before it arrives, and to rehearse the implications of change, are more likely both to manage the risks and to seize the opportunities. Rehearsal improves anticipation and the speed of the organisational response. To be successful an organisation needs a ï¿½memory of the futureï¿½.
In the spirit of testing the future the report identifies seven ï¿½strategic challengesï¿½ that businesses must embrace to ensure greater control over their organisational futures. The report then recommends a ï¿½way to workï¿½ in light of each:
- Maintain an external focus and engage with others outside your organisation, your sector as well as your customers. Share the costs and fruits of innovation with strategic partners where possible. Move away from deploying innovations from the top down, give areas of your business freedom to trial and refine multiple innovations on a smaller scale.
- Create a culture that recognises and complements the values of increasingly empowered employees at all levels. Build on successful core competencies as well as recognise and respond quickly when things can be done better elsewhere. In the context of a more fragmented workforce, understand the limits and relevance of ï¿½implementingï¿½ a corporate culture and move towards a more consensual style engagement.
- Re-evaluate the role of management in your organisation. Look for ways to make management an enabling force for activity taking place across the organisation, rather than solely a decision function.
- Continue to champion quality, of course. But also look at how to champion good service design, which embeds quality in delivery, or even co-creates it with its end-users.
- Operations & technology
- Create a map which includes the story of how your world is changing and why ï¿½ and what the critical stepping stones will be. It is important that your roadmap allows for divergent future outcomes and that there is spare capacity inside or outside your company to explore these.
- Understand the model which matches the value you deliver ï¿½ and have a risk management programme which understands where the conflicts are likely to flare.
- Work with others in your sector and your regulators to develop models of the workplace of the future ï¿½ and collaborate on building the most effective regulatory regimes for them. Develop an understanding of and engage with the relevant interest groups and NGOs that increasingly influence policy making.
The way to work: Space, place and technology in 2016 (PDF document, 40 pages, 1.53MB)