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Tuesday 5th August 2014

Future shock?

What will tomorrow's HR tech look like – and should we start preparing now?

Over the last two to three years as growth and positivity have slowly returned to the economies of the Western world, it’s evident that a heady cocktail of changes are driving the beginnings of a revolution in how, when, and where we work.

Some of them are societal, some are generational, but right at the centre of it all is technology. One thing’s for sure – if you are an HR or business leader, this ain’t Kansas anymore, Toto.

Blown away

For a start the old familiar equation of 48/48/48 just doesn’t add up anymore. The idea of working 48 hours for 48 weeks for 48 years – that our parents lived by in their work life – have been blown away forever,

This means we are as a rule much happier to move away from jobs or organisations or people we don’t like working with, or businesses with anachronistic approaches to technology. This has profound impacts for businesses that don’t listen to what employees tell them or refuse to provide the talent with the right tools to perform.

And to the greater flexibility we’re all looking for, you can add the growth in millennials as the driving force in the working economy. As many studies have shown, millennials are confident, demanding, and not beholden to hierarchies in the same way boomers or children of the 60s are.

They demand a great working environment, worthwhile work with meaning, and are highly unlikely to be understanding if you ask them to use HR platforms designed for the 1990s.

The industrialisation of home

Consumer technology, including smart phones and tablets, has become cheaper, better and widely adopted. For the first time in history most of us have better tech and user experience in the home than we do at work.

And guess what – we’re getting less and less happy about being asked to dumb down at work. The direct implication for business is that policies like BYOD are no longer ‘nice to haves’ but necessities.

Platforms such as Skype and other free or cheap collaboration and communication platforms, allied to widely available broadband and Wifi, mean there is no longer any real need for many workers to actually attend work.

The impact these technology-driven changes have on HR are big and growing. Questions are being raised by business leaders that have no precedence, like how to hire and on-board the best development talent regardless of borders, or how to control the work environment of employees you will perhaps never even meet.

The demands on HR for a more fluid and dispersed workforce place are also evolving quickly. Debates over how to enable productive work, regardless of location, cannot be ignored when more and more of your workers are remote.

The questions for HR pros don’t stop there. As the workplace evolves, a major question sits at the heart of the technology strategy: in the workforce of the future are you buying tech platforms that allow HR to control and drive process compliance, or are you setting out to enable better collaboration and performance?

About the author

Nick Holmes

From Monday to Friday, HR technology is my world. I help a diverse set of customers get the most they can from HR & elearning technology. It’s a complex world for HR leaders – there are no easy solutions, and no two leaders are the same. Business is changing fast, and HR is changing fastest of all, which keeps life supremely interesting. I’m a zealot about technology, collaboration, authentic leadership and how these are all combining to change the way we will work in the future.