Survey: 7 organisational changes that are affecting the workplace towards 2020

Today’s organisations are geared to maximise value generation in an industrial society while competition is frenetic in the innovation society. FM managers are caught up with a Taylorist approach to the workplace focusing on cost while seeking “timelessness” - and then surprised when it does not work. So what does the future office look like? ISS and CIFS surveyed 613 respondents from 56 countries across demographically diverse members of the FM industry including various levels of decision makers. Of the seven organisational changes affecting the workplace the most towards 2020: need of new skills and work processes, distance work & presence, use of non-standard work agreements and outsourcing were the most common responses.

Need of new skills and work processes

The beauty of the innovation society is in that it utilizes the best of the industrial society’s automation and specialization of work tasks. However, newer tools, intelligent buildings, systems and processes demand knowledge based skills and different specializations. We know that knowledge work is increasingly cognitively complex, dependent upon social skills and technical skills, time pressures, and thus subsequently demands new work processes and patterns.

Distance work and telepresence

Companies are changing their understanding of the role that the workplace plays in creating value. While workers can increasingly work from anywhere, the workplace represents both the outward - brand - and inward - organizational culture - the manifestations of a company’s DNA.

Use of non-standard work agreements

Companies are seeking to reduce their exposures by transferring many fixed costs - including employees - to variable costs. In order to reduce fixed costs, companies are: reworking their businesses models and technology deployment strategies, rethinking the human resources strategy (increasing usage of outsourcing, offshoring, partnering, and shifting an increasing number of workers from permanent contracts to short-term), reducing their investment in IT platforms and peripherals (by allowing employees to “bring your own devices” (BYOD)) and are reducing their exposure to real estate costs. The accelerating pace of change and increasingly competitive nature of globalized work means that organizations, can no longer afford to demand conformity and offer lifelong employment.


Companies leverage value networks instead of value chains. Work in the innovation society is no longer bound to the organization, to a single location or to clearly defined value chains. Value is generated in networks, including customers, suppliers partners, competitors, volunteers and freelancers, and more companies than ever are investing in building good relationship. Companies are doing this by automating or re-assigning as many routine tasks as possible that do not require high-skills, such as conducting Google searches, to specialist workers.

According to Frank Elter, VP Research Strategy at Telenor Group, “FM needs to help reconfigure businesses and industries. Vertically integrated companies used to produce everything. The companies are now switching, as these companies become the apex of ecosystems. This reconfiguration will happen in more industries. Offices will have to reconfigure to match. FM providers need to provide flexible network infrastructures, allowing users from different companies to utilize networks, printers, monitors, etc. FM contracts will have to be renegotiated to bring companies together in new ways.”

Are you ready to work with companies together in new ways? What other organisational changes do you see affecting the workplace in 2020?

This blog post is based on ISS’ New Ways of Working whitebook.