The recession forced companies to think differently about how they spend money and operate.
The mantra became one of cost cutting and there were widespread efforts to try and cut waste wherever possible to try and save money. But that provoked an investigation into how companies operated.
The result was an increase in flexibility. That could be seen in the move towards the pay-as-you-go models offered by the cloud as well as the rise in the number of people who started to work remotely to cut the costs of commuting and help firms reduce the need for so much office space.
Looking ahead, which is exactly what Microsoft has done in its examination of office of the future, those trends are going to continue.
As Scott Dodds, general manager of Small to Medium sized Business and partners at Microsoft, tells MicroScope resellers need to be aware that things are in transition and the technology and services needed are going to be around helping companies manage an increasingly fluid working environment.
The name given for the resulting situation is a hybrid office, coming from the definition of it being more than one thing at once, where the lines for staff between work and home are blurred and as much work happens outside of the office as it does inside the physical buildings that have the company logo on the door.
Dodds expects resellers to start selling mobility solutions and preparing companies for the future with some office already being built that are 'thin' in their ability to provide all the technology between the walls to let users come and connect without the need for oodles of wires.
The report talks about generational shifts occurring in the workplace and those that think that once the recession is over the bums will return to corporate seats and talk of flexibility and remote working will decline are mistaken.
"The tensions between the Baby Boomers and Generation Y employees of today are reminiscent of the struggles between generations seen in the 1960s and 70s, where personal expression, mass media and counter-culture overturned post-war society," says Professor Michael Hulme, at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Lancaster University and director of the Social Futures Laboratory, who was involved in the report.
"For Generation Y, their mass media is now social networking, social media and personal mass broadcasting. One of the major challenges in work is how do the Baby Boomers that now occupy the establishment position, come to terms with the media, technologies and behaviour of their new young employees," he added.
From a technology standpoint the answers to the questions of embracing the workplace revolution are falling into place and there seems to be an emerging role for resellers to advise and help firms move to new ways of operating.
The hybrid organisation
According to the Microsoft report looking into organisations of the future the definition of a hybrid organisation is as follows:
"The term 'hybrid' means many things. At a basic level, hybrid is defined as 'of mixed origins', 'composite' and the 'interaction of two elements of incongruous kinds'. What emerged from the papers and the resulting discussion as that incongruity or difference is an important element of a hybrid organisation. Most notably, the successful mixture of sets of people with different working styles, needs and attitudes to work will be an important factor in determining the success, or otherwise, of organisations in the future."
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