Looking Into The Work-Trend Crystal Ball - InformationWeek

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Looking Into The Work-Trend Crystal Ball

A new report forecasting the top 10 workplace trends of the future says video and Web conferencing will make business travel extinct while social networking sites and other Web 2.0 technologies emerge as the primary tools for job recruiting. Is your organization ready to support these and other workplace trends? Or maybe you're already making these shifts.

A new report forecasting the top 10 workplace trends of the future says video and Web conferencing will make business travel extinct while social networking sites and other Web 2.0 technologies emerge as the primary tools for job recruiting. Is your organization ready to support these and other workplace trends? Or maybe you're already making these shifts.The predictions come from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an executive recruitment and "outplacement consulting" organization that monitors corporate job trends closely. The report, "Workplace Trends Of The Future," isn't exactly self-serving, either.

The firm's second prediction -- that employers increasingly will shift their job recruiting efforts from print ads and online job sites to social networking sites and other collaborative Web 2.0 technologies -- doesn't exactly sound like something that wouldn't worry a company like Challenger, Gray & Christmas, whose own business is focused on job-related matchmaking services.

As for the other trends -- we've heard some of the other predictions before, like how video and Web conferencing will replace business travel and on-site corporate meetings. The last time I remember hearing those predictions was soon after Sept. 11, 2001, when everyone was afraid to fly.

I'm not sure if business travel ever rebounded to pre-9/11 levels, but even if it has, video and Web conferencing technologies have evolved quite a bit in the meantime. And surely these products will pop up more frequently on the radar screens of companies exploring telecommuting programs for workers because of rising fuel prices and corporate mandates to become "greener." So, while I'm not sure video and Web-based conferencing will finally mark "the end" of business travel, as the report predicts, I'm pretty certain those technologies will become a lot more mainstream at many more companies in the near future.

Some of Challenger, Gray & Christmas' other workplace trend predictions are intertwined. Here they are, in no particular order:

• Corporate headquarters will become extinct in favor of allowing more employees to work closer to home and provide better work-life balance.

• Open community space will replace cubicle workspace, enabled by wireless technologies that allow employees to move around and set up virtual offices wherever they're needed.

• Free agents -- including freelancers, temp workers, and contractors -- will become a bigger part of the workforce as employers cut benefit costs and look for flexibility in finding talent needs.

• Expansion of the global economy will have employers aggressively recruiting highly skilled talent outside the United States.

• More companies will create their own corporate degree programs to mold talent for jobs that require advanced tech skills, creative problem-solving, and solid communication skills.

• The four-day workweek will become the new standard for corporate America.

• Employers will mandate wellness programs to help rein in health care costs.

• Fewer companies will provide employer-paid health benefits for workers and retirees.

Is your company already setting any of these trends? How will your organization make them a reality? Or maybe some of these predictions are ones you'd rather not see come true. Tell us about it.

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