The world is moving at a fast pace, and connectivity is everywhere. From preordering your meals so they’re hot and ready allowing you to buzz through with no waiting, to opening up your laptop/mobile device to work at your local coffee shop. While virtual reality may not be here quite yet, the distributed workforce – which reaches beyond the traditional office environment – will impact how businesses attract/retain personnel and meet customer demands. A company’s success is dependent on how well they navigate through the virtual community.

Driving factors for working a new way include the workforce shift, behaviors and preferences of next-gen workers and technology advancements.

Shift of the Workforce: In the next couple of years, a large percentage of currently working employees will be leaving to pursue retirement (aka baby boomers). Replacement of these workers will shift to the next-gen workers who are tech-savvy and motivated differently. The sheer number of people retiring will leave a gap in staffing, forcing companies to go off/near-shore or share resources through contract services.

In addition to boomers leaving the workforce, the recession left people not trusting traditional corporate organizations. They watched their company- loyal parents were let go, lost their savings and become demoralized. Their answer to ensure they will never be exposed to the same is to establish their own business and contract services to several clients. Or, if they do choose to stay employed, change companies every two years. The old adage of “not putting all your eggs in one basket” comes to mind.

Behaviors and Preferences: Next-gen workers have a different communication style, which will force companies to leverage technology and social media. Cryptic, 50 character messages, with unique abbreviations are considered intimate conversations to the new workforce and will drive text/chat messaging campaigns. This group is hardworking and focused on accomplishing the goals – but not at the sacrifice of their personal time and enjoyment. Some structure is okay, but fun is a great motivator, as are flexible hours and mobility (the ability to work from anywhere).

Technology Advancements: The fact that a team can be located anywhere in the world and working any hour of the day, means a company must use applications that are accessible 24 hours per day, seven days a week, and 365 days per year. Cloud-based computing is front and center, with built in infrastructure for highly reliable systems meeting uptime expectations. Cloud services and hosting centers provide backup, recovery and “failover” systems, so companies can focus on core competencies. Office operations for phone systems, fax machines, printing, and a host of other day-to-day items are now on the web. Employees can be tethered through handheld mobile devices and gamification (which applies gaming principles to other activities) can be used as a means to track performance.

The time has come for businesses to prepare and get ready for the next-gen workforce.

About Your Columnist

Linda Amaro

Linda Amaro is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers topics, tips and tricks surrounding The Virtual Office and using Microsoft SharePoint to improve collaboration. Linda Amaro, has been in the Information Technology (IT) industry for over 30 years and has risen to the position of CIO in the corporate arena managing multiple departments with over 150 staff members and projects for tier one customers ranging from $2.5 million to $20 million. In 2010, she started Klarinet Solutions, a SharePoint consulting firm that provides SharePoint Design, Site Branding, Workflow Automation, On-Line Forms Development, Document Management, Custom Development and Business Intelligence.

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