by Jeff Corbin | December 12, 2016

Gartner’s Matthew Cain defined the Digital Workplace in 2015 as “an ongoing, deliberate approach to delivering a more consumer – like computing environment that is better able to facilitate innovative and flexible working practices.” The principles for attaining a Digital Workplace have been in place now for a few years; however, the opportunity for companies to take advantage of new technological solutions has never been greater.

As we approach 2017, it’s important to reflect on some of the trends that started to emerge in 2016 and will undoubtedly continue in the year(s) ahead. Companies that are already taking advantage of these trends will find themselves at an advantage relative to their peers. But there is still time for those trailing to catch up!

  1. BYOD policies will expand allowing a remote workforce to use their mobile device of choice.

The demand for workers to access information on the small screens of iPhones and Android mobile devices continues to increase. According to SecurEdge Networks, BYOD strategies provide significant benefits to organizations including increased worker satisfaction, enhanced productivity and reduced stress on IT.   With more companies embracing cloud computing (as compared to on premise) and as more technological solutions and software are developed specifically for the mobile device, look out for increased adoption of BYOD policies, consider implementing one if you haven’t already and consider the many benefits (especially financial) that BYOD can bring to your company.

  1. Employees will expect greater flexibility when it comes to where, when and how they work.

Workplace flexibility was a hot topic in 2016 and will continue to be one in 2017. Driven largely by Millennial preferences, when it comes to being competitive on the recruiting front, companies will not only need to implement programs like flex scheduling and telecommuting, but also incorporate new digital workplace technologies that allow employees to feel connected even when they are not together.

In an article written by Micah Solomon in Forbes.com, he states that there is no “silver bullet” solution when it comes to supporting Millennials’ needs for work-life balance. However, a good start would be “to accept that the millennial desire for work-life balance is admirable and that any scheduling solutions you make in this regard will also benefit your overall workforce; the desire to have time for a life outside of work is not exclusive to any one generation.”

  1. As younger generations enter the workforce, an increased knowledge of technology will become commonplace and cause the old guard to adapt to new ways of doing business.

Paul Miller, the CEO of Digital Workplace Group, stated as one of his 10 digital workplace predictions for 2017, “digital literacy [will] become an essential competence.” To the extent Millennials grew up with mobile technology as part of their personal and professional lives and to the extent this generation will comprise nearly 50 percent of the workforce by 2020, businesses have no choice but to adapt to the needs of their most important constituency, their employees.  This will ensure a few things:  increased productivity, enhanced engagement and overall job satisfaction.  During 2017, companies should take a position on how to address these demands rather than relying on the same-old/same-old.  While this may require reprioritizing or spending additional resources, companies should keep in mind the adage, “penny-wise/pound-foolish.”

  1. How many apps will an employee really download to their personal mobile device?

In the recent report titled IT Market Clock for Enterprise Mobility, 2016 (Bryan Taylor, October 7), Gartner discusses the concept of a Mobile Hub – one that is defined as solutions that “aggregate content and functions under a ’single pane of glass’ in a mobile app; on the back end, they integrate with corporate systems through an intermediate server or cloud component. Their main focus is gathering content from multiple sources and aggregating them into a single view for a smarter user experience. In addition, mobile hubs also may aggregate communications content such as messages, email and presence; relationship data, such as contacts; or project activities and tasks.”

Consider the concept of the Mobile Hub as we enter 2017.  Can you expect your employees to download five, ten or more workplace apps onto their personal mobile devices?  Or is there a way to consolidate mobile content and solutions under “a single pane of glass” or “app.”  They do exist you know.

  1. It’s time to welcome Generation Z to the workplace.

In the middle of 2015, Millennials became the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Well it’s almost 18 months later and we are still talking about how Millennials are impacting the workplace and how to address their needs.   Just when we thought we figured it out, welcome Gen Z (those born between 1995 and 2012).  Rather than waiting until it’s too late, consider getting ahead of the needs of this new group.  They too will continue to enter the workforce in full force and will have even greater digital needs than their predecessor generation. To read more on preparing for Gen Z’ers entering the workplace, click here.

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