Jason Shah Author block 1a

The modern workplace is changing. In fact, according to Intuit, 40 percent of American workers will be freelancers by 2020, thanks to trends like remote work and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) models.

For employees, this increased flexibility can be a huge benefit, allowing them to work from almost anywhere, at almost any time, on the device they feel most comfortable using.

But for organizations, these changes will require some getting used to. With an increased need for security on mobile devices and accommodations for non-traditional work models, how do you keep up with all of the changes?

How to keep up with workplace changes

In light of these inevitable changes, there will be a couple of key themes in the workplace of tomorrow: the rise of remote work and the rise of employees taking on multiple projects. Businesses that are prepared to meet and even leverage these will be able to retain the best talent, keep their businesses secure, and push ahead of the competition.

Embrace the remote worker

Employees, particularly Millennials and younger, expect a degree of flexibility in their work— and that flexibility requires adequate technology to support it. Collaboration solutions like Skype for Business and Microsoft Planner that allow workers to communicate, share files or respond to messages quickly from their own devices and at their own convenience, allow for increased flexibility. In some cases, an office may often not even be required.

With workers doing more work remotely rather than at their desks, physical barriers to collaboration break down.

Benefits: Some employees do their best work outside the office, preferring to receive feedback through email or chat, as opposed to meeting in-person at an office. Employees may do better work in the comfort of their homes, or wherever they feel most productive and empowered. This could be at a coffee shop, a co-working space, or—dare we imagine—even at the beach.

Challenges: As remote work becomes more commonplace, employers need to ensure employees are still producing high-quality work. The last thing an employer would want is an employee who is generating subpar work due to outside distractions.

Employers and employees will also need to work on security policies regarding sensitive company information. For example, if an employee loses their phone, how can you ensure the person who finds it won’t have access to sensitive business data though apps like Outlook, Slack, and Dropbox?

Opportunities: Your customers may have to provide their employees with work phones that are equipped with the necessary security measures in place to combat this, though that can become a significant cost for them. The opportunities for you lies in introducing your customers to cloud-based applications like the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS). EMS allows your customers’ employees to enjoy various collaboration tools on both mobile and desktop without putting company data at risk.

Your customers will need to adapt to the cloud in order to enable their employees to be able to work from wherever, whenever, and with any device—and they’ll look to you, their trusted tech partner, for help to make that happen. Be ready for the security conversation: Stay up-to-date on threats and solutions by checking out the Microsoft Secure Blog and the Microsoft Secure site.

Support employees with multiple roles

Because workers will have more flexibility, they may decide to work multiple jobs for short-term periods. Plus, workers may not stick to one industry but may take short-term positions in multiple fields to use all their skills or develop more. For example, a computer programmer may not only work for a software corporation but may also build a website for a farmer looking to create an online presence.

Benefits: As workers are less constrained to one particular industry, they will become more knowledgeable about how to use their skills in a variety of fields—and that diverse knowledge and skill set could be very good for the organizations they work for. For example, a software engineer might understand how to build computer programs for a farmer, a media company, and a sports team. While the core, fundamental skills may be the same, the application and contexts in which these programs apply are very different, allowing the employee to spot new opportunities.

Challenges: Workers may have to spend both more money and time on learning specialized skills to gain an advantage in the workforce. Part of the reason freelance work is on the rise is because of the spike in automation systems or bots that have taken the place of work that was previously done by humans, and this trend will only continue to rise as time goes on.

Opportunities: Your customers may find themselves having to hire for more flexible, short-term positions on a contract basis, when they need workers with very specific skill sets to complete projects from start to finish. Even more, they may have to deal with increased complications around compensation, benefits, and physical working space.

One opportunity for partners is providing solutions that takes the hiring burden off customers. You can do this by leveraging your own expertise and forming strategic partnerships with other MPN partners. As members of the MPN, you have access to Cloud Solution Providers who can help you offer the widest range of cloud solutions to your customers, and Dynasource, where you can find complementary partners to help you expand your offerings even more. Together, partners can provide the holistic solutions your customers need, while relieving them of the complications they don’t.

The workplace of tomorrow may be one we can hardly imagine today. Perhaps the term “workplace” itself may be redefined, as work becomes less defined by any one location. One thing is for sure—the future of work is shaping up to be fascinating, as digital transformation shifts the world before our very eyes.

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