The workplace of 2021

by Stephanie Zillman09 Nov 2011

Ten years from now the Australian workplace will be characterised by choice, excitement, flexibility, freedom and trust – or at least that’s the dream, according to a panel of leaders from top ICT companies.

In Sydney yesterday, a panel of five leaders from Microsoft, Optus, IBM, Cisco and Fuji Xerox came together at the ‘Workplace of tomorrow’ symposium to discuss how technological innovations, such as social networking, BYO and remote computing, cloud, and greater mobility will continue to impact Australia’s workforce.

Steve Godbee, CIO IBM, said he views trust and personal responsibility as key drivers of the future. When considering the end goal of ‘output’, Godbee commented that if an employee wants to take the afternoon off to watch their child play sport, and complete their work remotely, it makes no difference to operations where the work is performed.

Peter Ulm, desktop and productivity lead at Microsoft agreed and added “Work is very much something you do now, not something you go to." 

Already the shift experienced by HR in the last 20 years has been profound.

In his article Leveraging IT for HR management in firms, Surya Katakam, director of technology at Arctern, wrote: “In effect, the ‘90s was a decade that saw a pronounced shift in HR’s focus, from personnel management to processes designed to improve the quality of workforce-related decisions.”

Fuji Xerox executive general manager HR, Beth Winchester, said she has found the support function of HR to be moving towards creative management - where support is provided in a productive way ‘instead of just saying no’.

The reality may be a case of businesses responding to the demands of employees, rather than the other way around. However, for the panel, this was a notion welcomed rather than feared.

“It’s about striking a balance between what individuals and employers need,” Winchester said, adding that having a one-way flow of management and ideas was akin to shutting down innovation in an organisation.

-Stephanie Zillman

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