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What does the future of work look like?

Jonathan Hassell | Aug. 8, 2014
Users increasingly come to the office clamoring for the same functionality, utility and speed that they enjoy on the devices they have at home. This is profoundly affecting the future of work (and the future of IT) in four key ways.

In the future of work, apps and operating systems will light up scenarios such that, whatever device you use, it's the functional equivalent to being on the corporate network. We saw some of this with the DirectAccess feature that Microsoft enabled in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, but this now extends in Windows 8 and beyond. No more user-initiated tunneling. No more clunky laptops trying to boot up. A user will take a computer, unsleep it within a few seconds, and use it like he or she is on the corporate campus.

The takeaway for IT? Make the boundary between your network and your users as transparent as you possibly can. Look for ways to securely remove from the user any perception that his or her services are degraded because they're away from the office. Make your network always on, anywhere, everywhere.

The Future of Work is Workflow-Driven
Checklists, when consistently followed and applied, reduce the amount of errors and ambiguities in all sorts of high-pressure places, from airline cockpits to hospital operating rooms. The concept is fairly simple: There are lots of little details to check and aspects to consider, so keeping them all in one place in a consistent way builds a path for success. The pilot or surgeon (or whomever else you'd like to involve in this analogy) can truly focus on more important, more valuable tasks like actually flying the plane or removing the tumor, not obsess over details.

The future of work is already moving in this direction, abstracting away all of the IT detail from a user's perspective and just getting their work in front of them. We already see a lot of this happening with the Office Graph that Microsoft has introduced. The system looks at your colleagues, your mail and what you're working on, then does computational analysis and machine learning to automatically pop up relevant documents and conversations in one place. You don't have to track where certain pieces of work are located, who has access to those pieces, and where the related conversation thread about that piece of work product is located and archived.

The future of work will involve IT, systems and devices taking care of the details of where things go and how to put them there. It will, in other words, take care of workflow. The future of work is about elevating the level of work so that the true thoughts, the true development and the true driving forward of business can be done by knowledge workers without making them also fuss with the details of their systems, their networks and their organizations. At last, freedom from the pesky details of making your IT work. This is what users want. The test of a good IT service organization is how transparent it can be to users and the future of work will make this goal and objective all the more important.


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