Conversations outside the box #4: A digital revolution for the physical workspaces

Insights | 6 February, 2020

Tom Savigar reflects on how the digital revolution and cultural differences between generations will force companies to rethink the way they conceive the workplaces of the next decade.

As part of Think Work Out of the Box, our book on workplace transformation, Studio Banana sat down with leaders across various industries to hear their thoughts on what tools and environments can best serve the contemporary workforce.

Tom Savigar is a Senior Partner at The Future Laboratory, where he works with a range of businesses  to make a better future happen. With a particular passion for the emotional connection people feel to brands, products, retailers, marketing and services. he is attentive to how brands can better resonate with consumers in the future, and frequently presents at conferences worldwide on the future of consumers, work, health and wellness, technology, retail, luxury and branding.

Here’s an excerpt of the introduction he wrote for our book, where he addresses the new ways of working that come with technological advances and how these will impact on the design of work spaces.

When technology disrupted the workplace

We are in the midst of a digital revolution in which the culture, skills and practices we associate with work are changing in ways not seen since the Industrial Revolution. The same technology that enables instant access to information could make many professional roles redundant in the future. Yet while artificial intelligence and data analytics have the potential to automate certain tasks, freeing people to focus on communication and the interpersonal aspects of their roles, these constitute tasks that machines will not likely be able to master for years to come.

Collaboration, transparency, flexible environments and horizontal organisational structures are the touchstones that define the modern workplace. But a new generation of workers and a fresh wave of technological disruptions are about to shake up what had begun to feel like the dependable certainties of 21st-century working life.

The current workplace template was shaped by the energy of the first wave of Silicon Valley technology start-ups, owned and staffed by Millennials who put a premium on spaces that foster an atmosphere of creative hyper-sociability. Their Generation Z successors, born after 1995 and on the cusp of entering university, or skipping it altogether, are a very different breed. Their skills, working practices and career expectations will drive an equally dramatic shift in corporate working culture. The anything-is-possible optimism that characterises the Millennial mindset will be tempered by Generation Z’s recession-born resourcefulness, regard for hard work and proactive approach to learning.

Generation Z tribe members’ resilience and willingness to re-invent their skill sets will be much in demand. They will arrive on the scene just as a third wave of radical automation adds its own powerful imperative for change to the workplace. Adaptability to change will be essential in the next decade, particularly in light of how precarious the workplace is increasingly becoming. This paradigm shift will force companies to rethink their engagement with workplace technology to prepare for changes in digital culture, design and consumer behaviour, and to maximise their employees’ output and well-being.

The full prologue, where Tom Savigar details the evolution of the new workforce generation and its relationship with the workplaces, can be found at the very beginning of Think Work Out of the Box.

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To learn more about the future of work and how the workplace transformation will be linked with technological advances, follow Studio Banana on LinkedIn.