Workplace Digital Disruption

12th July 2016


The management of data has been revolutionised by digital technology.  However we are only now beginning to appreciate the revolution in the management of people brought on by digital technology.  

Many of the impacts of digital technology are yet to be seen in the workplace.  There are clear benefits, but are there also unforeseen consequences. Are we ‘navigating amongst icebergs’?

Of course working from home with access to the internet and the work intranet makes many home-offices highly productive workplaces, but other challenges are now emerging.  Those who are recent entrants to the workforce, the millennium generation, will often make their workplace anywhere, they are working on laptops in cafes, parks and on public transport as well as home.  This flexibility has now extended into the workplace with the advent of the ‘agile workplace’.

KPMG in Adelaide transformed their offices in Adelaide in 2015 to what they call ‘a workplace for the digital age’. Don’t bother looking for a phone with a handset on any of the desks, there aren’t any. All calls are routed through laptops. Everyone has a headset. 

In this office even the Partners are without an office. Everyone finds a place to work each time they go into work.  If you want to personalise your space with family photos, please do, but you will need to pack them up when you pack-up your laptop when you leave for home.

In the context of increased flexibility many are rethinking the control exerted by traditional management approaches.  Another international firm PwC is now allowing further flexibility by enabling their workers to decide their own working hours.  Other forms of ‘control’ are also being questioned.  Should time on social media be ‘minimised’ during work hours or is connection to social media likely to be a benefit to the workplace?

But what is driving these changes? Is there solid evidence of increased productivity and workforce satisfaction or are these changes being driven by economics related to the value of office space or just the capability of digital technologies?  New research questions need to be asked and new methodologies devised to establish the evidence for digitally led organisation disruption.