The Coming Workplace Revolution

Most employees are disengaged with their work and skeptical of their company leadership.

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By Joshua Levie

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Today's workplace is experiencing a shift in the way we do business, a pivot we haven't seen since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. This transformation in the workplace is happening around the globe at a dramatic pace.

It has led some economists to identify it as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, described the speed of this change as having no previous historical model boldly stating: "We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another."

The same way enhanced automation and multifaceted machinery helped deliver more efficient mass production and a better way of conducting business over 100 years ago, a similar event is occurring in today's workplace. A community-driven social phenomenon is changing the way we interact, while also leading to more efficient ways of conducting business.

Out with the old workplace.

As a young entrepreneur in the digital space, my industry and generation are standing on the front lines of this revolutionary change. The Mad Men office culture of yesterday, built on hierarchy and traditional power structures, is being tested. For a new generation of leaders, this way of doing business does not represent our values or what we think is effective leadership -- and we're not alone in that notion.

Related: The Benefits of Having Friends in the Office (Infographic)

Gallup took an unparalleled, in-depth look into the modern workforce late last year with a new report titled, State of the American Workplace. In its third iteration, it collected data from approximately 195,000 U.S. employees and more than 31 million respondents indicating that only 33 percent of American workers felt "engaged – involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace." When 51 percent of a workforce reports not being engaged for quite some time, Gallup termed it as our country being in the middle of "an employee engagement crisis."

What the new one looks like.

American workers have offered us a clear roadmap on how to create a work environment that is conducive to their values and empowers engagement. In the State of the American Workplace employees were asked what would help leaders understand how to attract, retain, engage and optimize performance during a time of extraordinary change. The results were clear:

  • 53 percent reported "a role that allows them to have a greater work-life balance is "very important' to them when considering to take a new job."
  • A mix of working remotely, yet still having face time with colleagues and clients, boosts engagement. Employees with this mix are also most likely to strongly agree that they have a best friend at work and opportunities to learn and grow.
  • 54 percent of employees said they would change jobs to have more flexibility over the times they work -- the most sought-after office feature.

This is clear evidence the workplace must change, for the benefit of both the worker and business.

Related: Corporate Charity Is What Inspires Greater Employee Engagement

One such approach to this new workplace revolution includes building and fostering a community within a business, based on shared experiences and the freedom to flourish creatively. The team works together on projects with and for people who are like-minded, have similar interests and goals, including a common desire to succeed and do good work. It's an environment free from the typical constraints of concrete walls, outdated thinking and rigid protocols.

A work environment for the creative class.

The ideals instilled in this community-based approach derives from a business philosophy rooted in the values of friendship and a creative culture. Not only can employees feel engaged, but also empowered by each other who, in turn, become fiercely loyal to the concepts codified in the work they do together to build this new workplace.

The goal is to always do good work. But, it requires a workplace community that inspires employees to succeed -- all while producing results for clients. It's about building lasting and reciprocal relationships over the long-term, both with clients and employees. It's where sharing creative ideas with friends infused with discussions of the latest technologies can offer a path to workplace success.

Related: 4 Rules to Provide Flexibility Without Losing Accountability

By understanding and being responsive to how employees perform successfully is critical for building a business environment ingrained in success. Home-based offices and the utilization of new technologies and tools are all part of the equation. However, equally important is empowering each other to explore and expand on strategies to solve problems individually and with their peers while fostering an environment where creative intellect is prioritized over traditional office norms.

The workplace -- where we spend a majority of our waking hours -- does not have to be a place we dread. It is possible to forge an environment that creates an intentional and open invitation for a truly inclusive experience for owners, leaders, employees and clients to all collaborate together with a seat at the table. It is the belief that people come first, where friendships can flourish, results can be achieved, and the freedom to be one's self empowers all of us to be more engaged. It's the type of radical change workers, entrepreneurs and businesses alike are demanding.

Joshua Levie

Founder and CEO

Joshua Levie is the founder and CEO of Brunch Digital, a design and development studio located in Washington, D.C.

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