Predictions for the year ahead: Digital workplace edition

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It’s the season for look-back lists and predictions for the year ahead, and over on the Intranet Benchmarking Forum blog, Paul Miller, who’s at work on a new book about digital workplaces, has applied this end-of-the-year ritual to his area of expertise. His post offers up a lengthy list of 10 changes Miller expects to see in digital workplaces in 2012.

Several of Miller’s prognostications will only be of interest to intranet professionals and those interested in a truly deep dive into the web-based internal tools organizations use to get work done, but others are fascinating for any manager or independent pro interested in the future of work. Take Miller’s ideas about the design of physical offices, for example. He predicts:

Perhaps inevitably the driving force in the Digital Workplace is real estate reductions and re-shaping of office environments. The lead times in the physical world are far longer than in the digital so organizations are trying to assess now, what they need on a physical work level in five years from now. Will anyone come to an office? If so who, when and why? The change in the physical workplace is being enabled by the rapid improvements in the Digital Workplace but lots of money is being wasted still on offices that will be virtually empty in 2016.

The impact of the rise of remote collaboration and more flexible ways of working on our built environment is a topic many organizations (and urban planners) are just starting to think about, weighing whether these changes will mean not only an absolute reduction in their real estate footprint, but also whether the mix of spaces companies and cities provide needs to evolve. Miller seems spot on that these considerations will only become more prominent in the coming years. The evidence also suggests he’s right when he argues that the rise of the digital workspace is one of the few areas where governments may get out ahead of business and lead:

London in 2012 hosts the Olympics and at a Government level there is a drive to promote flexible working for three weeks around the Games. Organizations are being required by Government to change their policies because the Digital Workplace can take the strain and these organizations will never look back after the Olympics as habits will have been changed. In Holland, Finland, US and UK government policy loves the Digital Workplace – less traffic, less sickness, reduced carbon, fewer accidents on the roads, business as usual when bad weather strikes, happier home lives – and this top down push will accelerate corporate wide shifts in how and where work happens.

Check out the complete post for Miller’s ideas about BYOD, usability and increased remote collaboration driving organizational restructuring, as well as other changes expected in the digital workplace in the coming year.

What are your predictions for how remote collaboration will develop in 2012?

Image courtesy of Flickr user garryknight.

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