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The workplace of 2020 is an exciting one, filled with changes specifically designed to benefit the future employee. Workers of tomorrow can look forward to more employee development and advancement opportunities than at any time in the past 30 years. How you develop your work skills today could lead to a big pay-off in the 2020 workplace.

Ten factors that will impact the 2020 workplace:

1. Demographics.
What it is: By 2020, the American workplace population will be more diverse: 63 percent white, 30 percent Latino, and 50 percent female. Four or even five generations, from Boomers to Generation 2020, will be working at once.
How it helps you: Companies going global will need to incorporate the experiences and backgrounds of a diverse workforce. Teams will be built up of workers of different gender, race and generation — and even workers of different nations.

2. Rise of business ethics
What it is: Companies that once only operated for profit will place new emphasis on the importance of their people, as well as the impact their existence has on the planet. The new bottom line will incorporate profit, people and planet.
How it helps you: An emphasis on doing good means companies will strive to be environmentally friendly. Plus, the ability for workers to give real-time feedback about their leaders ensures leaders will be held to their worker’s standards.

3. Social technology
What it is: Vlogging, Twitter, intranet chat rooms, Skyping — even today, there’s a vast array of online communication tools, with more to come.
How it helps you: The use of social technology means real-time feedback loops as well as facilitating offsite work teams. Social technologies will also enhance informal and peer-to-peer learning.

4. Mobile workplace
What it is: Increasingly powerful mobile phones are replacing laptops as the main work device.
How it helps you: Advanced Internet capabilities on your cell mean accessing your “desk” anywhere, anytime. Welcome to the “third place”: If the office is the first job site and the home office the second, the “third place” is anywhere your phone is.

5. Work/life flexibility
What it is: For younger generations, work is a significant part of their life, but they don’t compartmentalize it like older generations tend to. It isn’t about work-life “balance”; it’s about work/life integration.
How it helps you: Flexibility tools like web commuting and “third place” working will help replace the 9-to-5 workday with a goal accomplishment one (meeting goals regardless of what time of day the work was done), which will help companies boost the job satisfaction of their employees.

6. Serious play
What it is: “Sims” (Simulated Games) is the new buzz word in training: Online Sims allow employees to learn new jobs through low-risk direct practice.
How it helps you: Training will start to look like the games we’ve come to love, and studies show that Sims are effective methods for accelerating competence across the employee spectrum.

7. Mentoring
What it is: One-on-one mentoring is still a powerful way to develop employees, but companies will also use reverse-, micro- and group-mentoring.
How it helps you: Increased emphasis on mentoring means that your professional development will get a super-charge via direct input from company leaders as well as from your peers. Best of all, your opinions and skills are given new value as you reverse-mentor others, meaning that you will be tasked with teaching those senior to you about your role.

8. Democratization of information
What it is: Digital record keeping makes company information accessible to all.
How it helps you: The end of hierarchies! More employees will be tapped to help shape policy, project management and solve problems, rather than just follow orders.

9. Personal branding
What it is: Social technologies track personal ratings, referrals and reputations.
How it helps you: A good reputation has the same value in the future as it does now: It makes you a highly desired employee who can set your own value in the marketplace.

10. Talent shortage
What it is: There’s a big gap between all the Boomers retiring and the number of Generation X’ers available to fill their shoes.
How it helps you: The demand for 2020 leaders will result in more concentrated employee development and faster promotions for younger workers!

Although it’s a ways off, you can start preparing for the 2020 workplace by:

  • Adopting a global mind-set.
  • Becoming familiar with social networks
  • Building your personal brand
The future is coming, and adapting now will position you for a fast-track career in 2020.
By Jeanne C Meister and Karie Willyerd

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