In this new series of blog posts, we’ll tackle the future of work head-on and share 6 principles we believe will be at the heart of successful organizations in the future.

2017. What a year…

Is it really almost over? It only feels like five minutes ago that we were ushering in the start of 2017 and setting out on a whirlwind 12 months for Workplace. But here we are looking back on one amazing year and looking ahead to another.

It’s been a year of learning, building and growing for Workplace. We’ve shipped exciting new features like Video Chat and Multi-Company Groups. We achieved our ISO 27001 certification. And we’ve welcomed over 30,000 new customers and partners, from some of the largest organizations in the world (hello, Walmart!) to charities, start-ups, and small businesses.

…and what we’ve learned

We’ve also spent a ton of time out in the industry, listening to what our customers, colleagues, and partners have to say. No matter where we’ve been, we’ve heard one question over and over again: what will the future of work look like? It’s the question on everybody’s lips. And it will continue to be the defining question of 2018 because at its heart is a universal unease about what that future will bring.

“No matter where we’ve been, we’ve heard one question over and over again: what will the future of work look like?”

What business leaders really want to know is: ‘How do I build a resilient organization in the face of unprecedented global challenges?’ Challenges like empowered customers who switch brands in a second; competition from start-ups or category disruptors; rapid product commoditization; and just the speed of technological change. These challenges are creating tremendous stress for leaders across all areas of their organizations, from strategic planning to risk assessment to talent retention.

It’s totally understandable that businesses want to gaze into a crystal ball and figure out the future. Because it’s kind of scary and it’s happening, and we all need to start planning for it now.

We’ve been thinking long and hard about these questions at Workplace. Our mission is to give the world a place to work together. Which means we need to equip organizations today with the tools they’re going to need to work better, smarter and faster tomorrow.

The future of work

In this new series of blog posts, we’re going to be tackling the future of work head-on, sharing our thoughts about the six principles that we believe will be at the heart of successful organizations in the future. These are the core behaviors shaping the attitudes of the next generation workforce. And they’re the guiding principles at the heart of our product philosophy.

But before we introduce you to these principles we want to start with the common factor that unites everything we do: people.

Technology is only part of the story

Many businesses assume that the future of work will be rooted in technology. And it’s true that technology – from cloud-based software to AI – will have an important role to play. But technology on its own isn’t enough because even though the technology we use at work is evolving, much of it is still rooted in the past.

Look at email. It’s still the most ubiquitous tool in most offices but it has some strange properties. Like the ‘Cc’ line. What’s that about? ‘Cc’ stands for carbon copy, which is a type of paper placed between two sheets of writing paper that picks up the ink from the top sheet so you can stick it in a box, have your secretary pick it up and circulate it around the office. Carbon paper was invented in 1806. It is literally a technology from the nineteenth century.

So what’s it doing in the modern workplace? It’s there because the tools we use today trace their origins back to the 1970s when pioneering computer scientists built the earliest productivity software for the personal computing era. They took what they knew, which was a way of working rooted in a world of ink and printing and out-trays, and made digital representations that we carry with us today.

But while we’ve been typing our thoughts into digital representations of paper, the tools that people use to communicate and connect in their personal lives have been through a dramatic change.

Say hello to your new Millennial workforce

There’s a new generation of people that have grown up with Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger, not just email.

“Any attempt to understand what the future of work will look like has to begin with the needs, expectations – and even the demands – of this younger generation”

They’ve grown up with mobile, not just with PCs. And they’ve grown up with video, emojis, Reactions, and GIFS, not just with text. They’ve grown up in a world that is more open and connected and moves faster than any we’ve ever known. As they enter the workforce, they won’t just demand tools and technology that are as good as those they use in their personal life, they have a completely different expectation of work itself.

They expect to be able to connect and communicate with anyone in their organization without having to ask for permission. They expect to have a voice. They expect to be heard.

And here’s the thing: by 2020, this younger generation will account for 50% of all employees in the workforce. Your workforce. Any attempt to understand what the future of work will look like has to begin with the needs, expectations – and even the demands – of this younger generation.

People change organizations

So when we at Facebook think about the future of work we’re not just doing it through the lens of technology, we’re doing it through the lens of people. We’re taking over a decade of experience building tools that have transformed the way billions of people connect and communicate in their personal lives and bringing that knowledge to the workplace.

The technology we use will be important. But more important will be our ability to unlock human potential by putting people’s needs and expectations at the heart of everything we do. The question, of course, is what exactly those needs and expectations are…

Read part 2 of the Designing the Future of Work series.

 

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