What Will the Workplace of the Future Look Like?
This is the first in a series of posts in 2017 on Bateman Banter focused on our portfolio practice areas, including key trends and leading companies.
If you’ve been following our Future of Work practice over the last couple years (we’ll forgive you if you haven’t…), then you’ll have noticed how much it’s evolved. What was once called our Enterprise practice is now two distinct portfolios: The New Stack — which is a home for our datacenter and cloud infrastructure clients including Fastly, MapR, Tegile Systems and Virtustream — and The Future of Work (FoW), a category that’s inclusive of any technology that touches the user and increases productivity and collaboration, such as Atlassian, CODE2040, Google Cloud and Smartsheet. Setting aside The New Stack for now (a post on that to come), this evolution was driven more by our Future of Work clients, all of whom are ushering in new ways of working that are broader — and, we think, more interesting — than the term “enterprise” might suggest.
Naming the practice area was just the first step in defining what FoW means to us at Bateman Group. We recently hosted a FoW dinner with clients and media, and each attendee brought their own definition of the phrase to the table. While there may not be universal consensus, we’re defining FoW companies as those that are using technology in new ways to address what we see as the most important social and economic trends impacting the workplace: shifting workforce demographics (including age, race, gender and geography), the rise of the flexible workplace, and the skills shift.
We also decided on four categories of companies shaping FoW: productivity, collaboration, HR/culture and education. We dug into each to compile a snapshot of companies defining the FoW. Here is a closer look into those categories:
If only there were more hours in the day! Though software hasn’t yet figured out how to address that problem, technology can help us do more with our time. When we discuss productivity in this context, it’s not just about efficiency — we are not, nor do we hope to become, robots. Rather, we view productivity as a way to work more effectively, collaboratively, and transparently, so we can enjoy our work more and strike more of a balance with the other areas of our lives.
Tools like, Slack, which free us from our inboxes and lets us work faster and tighter as a team than previously possible, are among the top companies we look to as leaders in this arena. Other top contenders are Evernote — because of the way it helps us be the master of our own to-do lists — and Tableau, for its ability to bring data to life without the headache caused by spreadsheets.
The rise of collaboration software has been a self-fulfilling prophecy: as technology makes it easier for people to work remotely, more people do so. The ability to work from anywhere will be even more important as companies face talent shortages and the steep costs of living in major metropolitan areas.
While companies like Slack and Google Cloud make it easier to collaborate with fellow employees, we also include companies like Gigster in this category. Not only does Gigster allow software developers to participate in the gig economy, it makes it easy for companies to bring together quality talent from around the world to collaborate on product development. As flexible work becomes increasingly more of the norm, tools like Gigster are helping us envision how companies of the future will collaborate and access the best talent.
HR & Culture
The products tech companies are building today will disproportionately shape our future, so it’s important that these companies are supportive, diverse and representative of society. This is why we work with CODE2040 as our pro bono E3THOS client.
We also have our eye on Lever, as it applies technology to solve the number one problem many companies face: hiring and retaining top talent. CEO Sarah Nahm is an inspiring leader who’s built a strong team with a unique vision for the future. We include employee happiness tools like BetterUp and AnyPerk within this category, as they’re striving to make work more rewarding and satisfying for employees.
Technology is already playing a huge role in addressing the skills gap and training people in the skills needed for a more equitable and productive economy. We’re inspired by Grovo, a “microlearning” company that taps new research on the way people learn best to help employees learn new skills through short videos.
As the world becomes more globally connected, we’re also keeping tabs on tools like Duolingo, which help people learn new languages — critical in a world where business is inherently international. Education will be critical in helping address the skills gap and build the fluency that people will need to accel in the innovation economy. With that in mind, we also have business schools like Wharton on our list of institutions impacting FoW through education.
The last five years alone have brought big changes to the future of work. Tools that I now take for granted — Google Docs, for example — have dramatically changed the nature of the way we work together, share information and solve problems. The innovation has the potential to help us address some of the fundamental inequalities in our society, as well as build more productive companies. The FoW companies we’re watching most closely are those that make work productive and fulfilling, so employees thrive and businesses prosper, as this is the shared DNA that drives the most impactful companies in the space. We’re excited to tell the stories of the people and technology that will continue to write the future for the workplace, the economy and our lives.