What Does the Workplace of the Future Look Like?


What does the workplace of the future look like?

It’s not a cubicle. It’s not an office. It’s not even the makeshift office you converted out of your spare bedroom or kitchen table during the pandemic.

The workplace of the future is not a place at all. Rather it’s an ability – the ability to work from any place and almost anytime using the tools of choice. Anywhere, anytime, any platform.

How to Adapt Your Workplace to a Changing Workforce

Figure 1. ISG Future Workplace Framework

Let’s start by looking at what has shaped the workplace in recent months. The forcing function of the pandemic evolved the workplace by five to 10 years in the span of one year. The aftermath is still playing out: enterprises are facilitating a workforce that came out of lockdowns and self-isolation with new priorities, has new demands for flexibility, envisions a hybrid workplace that works for them, requires near-constant testing, accommodating and adapting.

This is why, today, the workplace is most impacted by the workforce

We now know that the workforce does not need to spend all its time in close proximity. No longer is the digital workplace defined solely as the collection of laptops, desktops, monitors, IT support, collaboration tools, software and smartphones. Today's digital workplace is the integration of the digital, physical and human workplaces. Yet, the intersections and dependencies between these three, as seen in Figure 1, are still missing from many future workplace strategies.

The ISG Future Workplace Study found that, since 2020, about half of enterprises have created a hybrid work policy and invested in tech to support hybrid work. Of those, about three quarters have achieved ROI from their remote and flexible work policy in terms of productivity, cost and employee and client satisfaction.

Enterprises consider employee productivity and attracting and retaining talent to be two of the most important benefits of hybrid work. And, while most enterprises agree these are critical goals of their workplace initiatives, many feel they are lagging behind their peers in accomplishing them.

How to Design a Workplace for the Enterprise of the Future

Enterprises need to address – and will need to continually address – the dependencies and intersections as shown in Figure 1. The 12 capabilities outlined in the ISG Future Workplace Framework help create a shared sense of purpose, a culture of collaboration and a way of tapping an ecosystem built specially to drive business value. The future workplace empowers and inspires people to do their best work – to communicate, collaborate and solve problems. It deepens engagement, spurs productivity and creates efficiency. 

And though technology does not define the workplace of the future – it is a critical element, allowing an organization to attract the right talent, seamlessly bridge physical and digital workspaces, appeal to workers of different generations and integrate data into the decision-making process. A hallmark of the workplace of the future will be human employees working side by side with digital ones. Finding success in this new model requires a holistic and agile approach to digital enablement that allows an organization to transform processes and services in a strategic way to boost performance and reduce costs.

As the future workplace connects platforms and integrates new digital products and services, it will require new personas, systems, processes and roles to support the digital landscape. Digital enablement gives enterprises a structured way to constantly improve the user experience, increase digital competencies and promote business agility. Changing employee capabilities requires leaders to continuously identify gaps and up-skill and cross-skill employees so they are prepared to perform new job functions.

6 building blocks of the workplace of the future:

  1. Assess the health of your operations: identify key cost and operational hotspots that provide the map for change and validate thinking
  2. Test the business model: assess what worked and what didn’t to create a plan of action and consider a new business model
  3. Identify your capacity to deliver: create a clear understanding of how you need your employees to work in the future and how they want to work
  4. Map operating model change: adapt your operating model to be more focused on the next-generation customer, employee and technology
  5. Determine technology needs: determine the technologies and partners required to deliver the new operating model
  6. Source your new business model: source the components identified in your new operating model, technology and future-of-work strategies

ISG helps the world’s most forward-looking companies capitalize on human ingenuity, efficient processes and intelligent technology to build workplaces of the future. We have the expertise you need in cloud computing, automation, data analytics, change management, blockchain and Sourcing for Transformation© to make sure you assess, map and source the components right for your workforce. Contact us to find out how to get started.


About the author

Dee Anthony

Dee Anthony

Dee is the Global Lead for ISG’s Project Estimation Service providing prudency evaluations of cost, duration, labor effort, and shoring ratios for projects through independent estimation validations.  Dee is also the co-founder of the Collaboration and Experience offerings at ISG and focuses on the Digital, Physical, and Human Workplace.  He is a key leader in the development and execution of ISG’s Build vs Buy methodology.