Work-Life Changes on the Horizon

July 15, 2003 · by Nila Leiserowitz

Because Gensler's tomorrow is both a reflection and anticipation of how our clients see the world, we wanted to gain a better perspective on what they were thinking.

Editor's note: To gauge their clients' assessment of the present state of change in business practice, and to forecast what the next decade holds, Gensler surveyed a pool of 300 clients/partners and hosted an 80-person forum in Chicago. Participants included executives and managers in facilities, retail, real estate, manufacturing, law, architecture, finance, technology, insurance, and pharmaceuticals. Here are the just-published results, from a 27 percent response rate.

We're optimists. Gensler's DNA is wired to look toward the future, to focus on being a sustainable, people-focused organization and to help those who we partner with to do the same. Even as optimists, though, finding the up-side has been hard in the last few years&#151it's been tough for business and our collective psyche. But rather than retreat to survival mode, we're dedicating our energy to creating the future we want for ourselves. Because Gensler's tomorrow is both a reflection and anticipation of how our clients see the world, we wanted to gain a better perspective on what they were thinking. Our Talking Tomorrow research efforts delved into lessons we've learned from highly challenging times and shared ideas for not just talking about tomorrow but making it happen our way. Here's a taste of what we heard.

What's Changed? 68.2 percent of those who responded believed that the work environment has changed entirely in the last 10 years, while 84 percent anticipate total change (again!) in 10 years. As for what creates motivation and profit: 57.9 percent said at present the bottom line is the driver; but 48.8 percent believe future success will be determined more by innovation.

What Matters? People—and new work practices, places and talent-focused leadership that help them perform at their best. Technology took a back seat as people were unquestionably the top of mind issue across our diverse research group. As one forum participant offered: "The organizations that will emerge as leaders in the next ten years will make decisions not based on egos or short-term profit and sales benchmarks…they will make critical choices revolving around their clients' needs and the needs of their internal people and talent."

We're finishing up a paper that reviews these and other significant ideas uncovered from our Talking Tomorrow research effort, and poses new questions to continue propelling us forward with our sights on the future, rather than just the ground under our feet today.

—Nila Leiserowitz

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