Workplace Changes: How Are You Staying Ahead of the Curve?


Workplace changes are coming at us hard and fast. Here are 3 trends I’m tracking that signal the future of work and how to not only survive but thrive in the workplace of tomorrow.


Trend 1:  THE OFFICE

Law Firms Loosen Up (Source: CBRE/Huff Post)

  • Law firms are reducing square footage by 27% on average.
  • 29 million sq. ft. of law firm leases are set to expire between 2018 and 2022
  • More than 70% of these expirations will include space contraction.

Strategies being adopted or considered by law firms include:

  • Shift from two-sized offices (typically 15’ X 15’ for partners and 10’ X 15‘ for associates) to glass-fronted, one-sized offices with seniority recognized by location, not size.
  • Less emphasis on grand, ceremonial client spaces and more emphasis on functional meeting spaces (see above right).
  • Orienting the reception area around hospitality, with concierge services and hosted events.
  • Transitioning cafeteria space from a place to eat to a place to socialize, in a prominent area along a window line.
  • Creating smaller, on-demand meeting rooms with interactive technology scattered throughout the practice area.
  • Adopting a paperless file storage strategy.


Apple’s New “Pacific” Chair Reflects a Rethink of Work (Source: Fast CoDesign)

  • Apple became the first customer for the Pacific Chair (12,000 ordered)
  • For younger generations, work represents who they know and how they socialize, offices are starting to have a more residential vibe. (NOTE: to me, the Pacific chair looks like an office chair, no more, no less but who am I to argue with Jony Ive)
  • Offices are also being designed to reflect how millennials see themselves: Not as office drones, but creative types with side hustles and Instagram followers.
  • Companies want offices to look creative and make workers feel like they’re part of a creative organization.
  • #Influencers don’t clock in. They make #impact from a lounge chair, not the confines of a cubicle.

Read on below for more on the Paperless Office and why in today’s work environment, it is CRITICAL to become a “Lifelong Learner.”


Trend 2:  THE PAPERLESS OFFICE (Source: ZDNet)

Workfront conducted a survey in 2017 of over 2000 workers to determine what the US office will look like in 5 years.

  • 15% of the work day is currently spent dealing with email
  • US workers have an average of 199 unopened emails at any given time.
  • Of the 68 emails received per day, 21 are junk, and 27 demand an answer or action.
  • 20% say email will no longer be used as a primary collaboration tool in the future
  • 31% say collaboration software will eliminate most conference calls.
  • 28% believe printers will become obsolete because everything will be digital.
  • 50% say mobile phones will become the mobile office
  • 28% believe fixed desk space will become a thing of the past.
  • The average worker works from home one day per week.



Per the Harvard Business Review, fundamental human capabilities such as curiosity, imagination and leadership are becoming more important in the workplace.

Growth Mindset

  • Companies want workers at all levels to exhibit a “growth mindset” – without it, no promotions.
  • Employees, similarly, expect companies to foster ongoing learning by providing training, online courses, conferences etc.

Both Ray Dalio and Mark Cuban have written about how their success came from a commitment to life-long learning.


The No-Collar Workforce (Source: Deloitte)



The rise of automation, artificial intelligence, and cognitive technologies requires on-going training

  •  Organizations are rewiring talent management for the new hybrid human-machine workforce simultaneously retraining augmented workers and pioneering new HR processes for managing virtual workers.
  • The Deloitte report features case studies, perspectives from industry luminaries, and insights from Deloitte professionals. The full Tech Trends 2018 report can be found here.


Retail Workers: What’s In Store For 2018? (Source: PYMNTS/ US News and World Report)

Ringing up goods is giving way to customer service specialization and service offerings that digital retailers can’t match.

  • Best Buy employees are leaving stores and arriving on customers’ doorsteps to help them pick the right products for their homes.
  • Walmart workers are handpicking customers’ grocery orders as they move to fill digitally sent grocery lists that will be delivered curbside.

A typical retail worker has seen her/his commission rate rise to 6% from half a percent, but hourly wages have dropped from $19 to $14.

  •  The net result, with fewer shoppers in stores, is more active competition among workers for sales.
  • As many as 60% of retail jobs will evolve into new types of roles.
  • Jobs for workers will get more interesting and be more impactful on the company’s business.
  • But there will be fewer entry-level jobs and there will be more pressure to perform.


Marketing Skills You Need to Remain Attractive to Employers (Source: Adweek)

A recent study by Richard J. Vaughan at the University of St. Francis examined marketing job listings in the top six metro areas and found:

  •  39% required big data skills—and this number is rapidly rising.

Those who enthusiastically begin a new journey of learning will be the most sought after. Examples of learning include:

  • Reading the latest analytics news
  • Reading books
  • Taking courses and familiarizing yourself with data tools.


Bottom Line:  The only thing certain is the inevitability of change. And the only way to stay ahead of the curve is to commit to being a curious, life-long learner.

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