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Demographics and the Changing
Nature of Work
By Charles
By Charles Grantham
Grantham and James Ware

O ne of the most powerful forces
affecting the changing nature of
work and the work force is demograph-
ics — the changing distribution of the
work force along a number of important
dimensions. Here we can only briefly
highlight the most important demo-
graphically-related changes that will be
occurring during the next decade; but
we urge all readers of this report to dig
more deeply into the trends and pat-
terns that will be relevant to their own

The work force of 2010 will be signifi-
cantly different than it is in 2004, but
the characteristics of workers today are
already very different from what most
of us think they are. And basic changes and apply knowledge. and under what conditions)
in the characteristics, beliefs, values, - Prefer to work in close proximity to
and expectations of millions of workers The “middle class,” the “working class,” others who share their interests,
in all functional areas will require and the “service class” were products skills, and work styles
equally fundamental changes in the of the Industrial Revolution and the - Tend to choose where they want to
way those individuals and teams are growing automation of the means of live and work first, and only then
managed. production. The vast majority of jobs worry about who they will work for,
today involve producing, applying, and or where they will find the kind of
The Changing Nature of Work — distributing knowledge rather than work they want to do
and the Demand for Workers things — essentially creative activities.
One of the most important changes Thus, without even considering the basic
that affects both organizations and Florida points out that creative work — demographic changes within the popula-
management is what we like to call the activities with low process structure tion at large, we already have a work
demand side — the kinds of workers and unpredictable outcomes — is what environment in which well over one-third
who are required to do the kind of work creates economic value and competi- of the work that must be done (and by
that needs to be done. tive advantage today. But the most far the most important third) requires
important work force management people who are very different from the
For insight into how changes in the insight stemming from his analysis is dependent manual laborers, clerks, and
nature of work itself are affecting who the values and expectations that even middle managers around whom
is in the work force, we reviewed the “Creatives” bring to their work. As he much of organizational life (and man-
research by Professor Richard Florida of suggests, creative people: agement practice) has been built for the
Carnegie-Mellon University. His data - Work on varied and individualized last several hundred years.
shows very clearly that the most rapidly schedules
increasing category of workers is what - Are self-motivated and self-directed Changing Work Force
he calls the “creative class” — those - Rely on their own tools Demographics
who are engaged in what others have - Place profession and career But equally dramatic changes are
called high-end knowledge work and ahead of a specific employer occurring on the supply side of work.
what we have described as “Creative - Expect to work in a variety of job The behavioral and emotional attributes
Activities.” The rise of knowledge work situations (and for a variety of of the workers who constitute today’s
as the dominant activity in the economy employers) over time work force are changing so rapidly that
has driven the development, coales- - Place a high premium on self- it is an open question whether organi-
cence, and emergence of this new control (that is, on being in charge zations will be able to adapt at all.
class of workers — those who produce of what they do, where they do it,


sity is a new condition that most organi. decades. and at height of Retirement in its traditional sense just their business isn’t what these folks want. ers in the active labor pool. in 1965 workplace all at the same time. tal driver of work force diversity today is those who are reaching the tail end of Today they are older. there were you want — they are young enough to only 3. September. The more pronounced. the continuing decline in birth rates in their careers. That is a decline get caught in classic work/family life impact of recently changing birth rates of 28 percent in the biggest source of balance issues.” They grew up with to the work force means more import. And much slower rate. necessity. Just ten Forty-ssomething mid-ccareer profession- years later. 3 We owe this insight and the basic description of these "four generations" to Rebecca Ryan. In fact. predominantly 20-somethings. total is aging. just consider the fundamental mid-thirties in 2010. U.and 60-somethings. Census Bureau ferent set of values and expectations the shrinking number of new entrants data show a dramatic “flattening” of from their “elders. ears professionals. more use of rates and population statistics. but still wet-behind-the- enormous impact on the labor pool. tural work force). These there were four groups are: approximately 4 million live births “Seniors” — Baby Boomers and their in the United elders who are 50." see James Ware and Charles Grantham. older folks are staying in the part-timers. four “generations” of workers in the cific. and a work force much longer — as a result of growing need to both personal choice and economic keep older work. births (in the they want to contribute. Birth rates have an means that talented workers will be hard-working. with ing of labor (and thus a more multicul. volume 2. more older workers. "The future of work: Changing patterns of workforce management and their impact on the workplace. based on current birth work.1 million have lots of energy. States. and led rather heady lives. they are ambitious. Today many of who are already actively seek- those individuals ing or enjoying part-time work. and many fewer more exporting of younger ones. are also rediscovering life outside work the world. That is. with cell phones. those 80-hour weeks any more. The net result is that the work force in group. number 2. 2003. But they virtually all developed countries around Boomer generation now in its late 50s. and related and molding as well." Journal of Facilities Management. The Rise of the Creative Class (Basic Books. wage ing — for the rest of this decade. and they’ve United States). and it is growing at a came into the work force with a very dif- zations have never faced before. 2 For a more complete discussion of these values and expectations of the "creative class. along with the aging of the so-called the labor pool in just 10 years. the work force — far too few to replace successful. short supply — and thus highly demand. energy. careers. and with 1 Richard Florida. This in all professions — generational diver. been in the work force for 20+ years those individuals already. and that pattern is about to become far — and most of them don’t want to work it is growing at a much slower rate. But they are also frequently the are just 29 today parents of growing children (and the but will be in their children of aging parents) and typically First. some were incredibly Indeed. and/or are 39 years old. Because of those declines there are were caught up in the dot-com boom of fewer and fewer young adults entering the late 1990’s. CEO and Founder of Next Generation Consulting.S. somewhat wiser. And that Thirty-ssomethings. 2002). pp 142-159. M AY 2004 / CORPORATE REAL ESTATE LEADER 25 . Baby Boomers. These are the young. They have lots of and thus on job opportunities. In one sense these are the workers 1975. The work force is aging. flexible working arrangements. result is a much broader range of ages Generation X and Generation Y. but they need lots of direction and salary expectations. And with the Baby and still ready to work hard. there will be many Game Boys. many organizations are already having to cope with what amounts to To be more spe. in als. the age curves over the next several the PC and instant messaging. And of consultants and course. Many of them attitudes about work and life. we believe the most fundamen.

where he manages an tering collaborative inquiry that pro- be tasked to satisfy those complex extensive applied research program duces both learning and action. in Alvin Toffler’s words. in the Sociology from the University of Search for Digital Excellence. 1998). No one group will supply the tal- laborative space in corporate facilities. They’re are the workers we need and how do er and whenever it must be done. gram. consulting. rently a member of the board of that workers will migrate and relocate trustees of Heald College. executive equipment. School. and they have no hesitation in Organizations will need comprehensive speaking their minds — and in moving In addition.D. In essence. and ier in the future. but it’s not going to go away). research projects on topics such as nized as an international expert on electronic commerce channel strate- Implications for the design of information and orga. IT executive leadership The general business implication of these new forms of work. That shrinkage also means more support for remote and mobile more complex than it is today.Sc. They are willing to work hard that has as its primary focus. For example. “Where organization’s work to get done wherev- too. Providing work another reason why the “Seniors” will plished. released in late an MBA (With Distinction) from the ative talent means that more work will 2002. and writing about the future of work.. gies. based in Prescott. we move our business there?” agers. psychiatry. and B. The task of real estate and cient at multi-tasking. a wider variety of locations and facili. LEADER more importing of labor (and thus a more multicultural work force). And the vari- And the overall shrinkage in the num. the from the University of Maryland. M. He demonstrating the impact of the implications for the real estate profes. sional are perhaps less clear. an early com- Although the human resource manage. and more use of consultants and part-timers. Maryland. published in 1999. His latest book is degrees from Cornell University and ics and an increased demand for cre. basic locational strategy for sustainable work styles. and they are companies within five years will be the facilities managers is clearly shifting more social and collaborative from their development of a workplace portfolio from providing “a place” to enabling the genes up. dozen technical articles in fields ranging from computer science to Jim holds Ph. it will be far work force. in fact. He is cur- have to be “taken” to the worker.” This diversity will entist of the Institute for the Study of faculty of the Harvard Business in turn put enormous pressure on infra- Distributed Work. has published five books and over a Internet on business and society. needs and expectations. He is also the author of The Harvard Business School. and manage- ognize that. workplace configurations — more col. who will Arizona. He also holds degrees in (McGraw-Hill.A. and staff development. but only on their terms. Psychology and Urban Economics pendium of ebusiness case studies ment challenges are fairly obvious. we have to rec. He is also the founder and chief sci.D. Charlie over 30 years much wider range of types of office has spent over twenty years studying experience in research.) Demographics and the Changing Nature of Work loud music. web-enabling business Real Estate Executives nizational systems that support processes. is going to be a major talent shortage. including five years on the “one size misfits all.. or demand — and expect — very different appeal to all the major demographic seg- turned down. A recognized expert in fos- structure and support staffs. more exporting of work (offshore outsourcing Charles Grantham James Ware may be unpopular. unwilling to suffer under poor man. and building these demographic shifts is that there business performance scorecards. The 26 CORPORATE REAL ESTATE LEADER / M AY 2004 . He is recog. developed world within five years. ments. more personal control over force support is not going to get any eas- be actively encouraged to stay in the when and where they will work. electronic workplace. Consumer Evolution. Charles James Ware is a Grantham is a co-founder of All of these factors mean a whole lot co-founder of the Work Design more complexity in work force manage. ous groups will continue to have varying ber of new entrants to the work force is ties in which work can be accom. to wherever companies want to be. he requirements and manage the resulting focused on the emergence of the has led over a dozen sponsored portfolio of workplaces and technolo- gies. this Collaborative and the Future picture suggests that workers will ask and the Future of Work pro- for — and get — much more choice in of Work pro. the Work Design Collaborative ment and support. We believe that changes in demograph. this “new” work force will real estate “strategies of place” that on quickly if they get turned off. He has the design of their workplaces and a gram. ent needed in the future. realestatemanagement (cont. They are incredibly profi. in He was the lead author of The especially for knowledge workers. education. Charlie received his Ph. not Future of Work. ment.