Cisco Connected World Technology Report Looks at the Future of Work

November 05, 2014
By: Peter Bernstein

Cisco (News - Alert) likes to do research and make some calculated guesses as to what it all means. Their annual update of looking at workers and the future of the workplace, Cisco Connected World Technology (CCWTR), provides interesting insights about the changing nature of work as Gen Y and Gen X become the predominant members of the workforce globally. 

As Cisco notes, “As in previous years, the CCWTR shows the mindset, expectations, and behavior of the world's next generation of workers, this year with added insights into Gen X and Human Resources workers, and how they value their connectivity (over physical needs), view their availability for work communications (24/7) and how these quirks shape enterprise IT and security policy, product development and design, and the ability of businesses to compete.”

Spoiler alert, there are some surprises and some humorous observations worth thinking about.  

The report breaks down into a look at six key trends which are categorized as follows:

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The CCWTR is the result of a survey of more than 2,000 people across 15 countries. As noted, its focus is on Gen Y, Gen X along with HR white-collar employees. It sought to find answers to the impact on the future of work from this digitally adept group regarding how the ubiquitous use of mobile devices and communications tools is resulting in expectations from workers to be able to transition these technologies into the workplace.

The goal was straight forward, i.e., answer the question, “How will this technology influence the future workplace and how we work?”

Without embellishment, and referencing some of that whimsy cited above, below are the key findings from this latest iteration with some of the supporting graphics:

 Technology Use in the Office: Devices

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Technology: Changing the Way We Work?

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Location, Location: The Future of Work is Not an Office 

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Supertasking: The New Normal? 

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HR: How companies View Workplace Technology 

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The bottom line of all of this is most apparent in the final graphic above. The digitally adept who will be populating the workplace understand that connectivity and the rapid introduction of innovation will be constants in their lives. As a result, the workplace will become more dispersed/virtual and the nature of work will change—including the addition of new tools like robots—and employer expectations about availability will continue to make work/life balancing a challenge.

The flip side of the last point is that a fickle workforce in terms of loyalty will expect employer flexibility as to who, what, where, why, how and when work will be done. What it means, which is not in the report, is that the metrics for performance are going to have to change along with the increased virtualization of work. It also means that HR people are going to have a really interesting time in finding the right/best people for a world in constant change. Finding those Supertaskers who can not only supertask but can deal with increased ambiguity on a host of fronts will not be easy. Indeed, that flexibility challenge may be the biggest since the one constant that is reflected in looking back at previous CCWTR’s is that not only is change a fact of life but so is the acceleration of it. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle