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Future Trends Evening: New Ways of Working

On October 12, 2016, we organized the fourth edition of our Future Trends Evening, an annual event series focused on new and emerging trends in the business world. This year, we looked at the so-called New Ways of Working, in collaboration with Steelcase.

How we work today is undergoing fundamental changes as major trends are shaping the now and future of work. Our behaviors are increasingly influenced by social media and new collaborative tools, and millennials will soon be the majority of the workforce. Lisa Glassner, Insight-Led Experience Consultant at Steelcase, started off the evening by highlighting some of the global trends driving these New Ways of Working. Our workplaces are starting to reflect our better understanding of how physical spaces influence behavior, the effects of information overload and changing mindsets brought about by the ‘sharing economy’ (Airbnb et al.). According to Glassner, companies need to focus on employee wellbeing, not only physical, but also cognitive and emotional wellbeing. Workplace design is shifting, as a result, from efficiency, in terms of the use of space, to greater concern about the ‘user experience’. Rather than a single, assigned desk, employees are offered more choice and control over where and how they work, which facilitates their ability to focus and be productive.

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion with speakers Sara Carrer, Senior Advisor at ThinkYoung and Senior Director EMEA at Burson-Marsteller, Annick Vandezande, Partner & COO at nexxworks, and John Myklebust, Business Development Mobile Applications at Getronics, moderated by Luc Blyaert, Columnist at De Tijd. The discussion focused on employee engagement, startup mentalities and the use of new communication tools.

When it comes to employee engagement, culture and engagement are closely linked, said John Myklebust from Getronics, and technology is a great tool to help enforce a new culture, such as the New Ways of Working in your company. Sara Carrer from ThinkYoung emphasized that to engage millennials, companies need to offer more than work-life balance and flexibility: they must have a clear mission and purpose to keep millennials engaged. Nurturing an open, startup mentality is important. “Innovation needs to be native – it needs to come from your own people,” said Annick Vandezande, highlighting the untapped potential for new ideas within companies. Finally, all panelists agreed new technology tools are the way forward when companies are embracing the New Ways of Working, whether these are collaborative tools supporting remote teamwork or informal chat groups for colleagues to keep in touch when working in different locations.

You can download Steelcase’s report “Employee Engagement and the Global Workplace” here.