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How will the age wave hit your workplace?

November 16, 2015

Anthony Bartolo   

Blog contributor

Wherever you are in the world, there’s an interesting story to be told about demographics and its impact on the way we work.

In the UK for example, it’s the story of an “ageing population”, with more retired people supported by fewer working people, whilst in India and other countries in the East, we talk of the “demographic dividend”, when the number of productive young people form a larger proportion of the population. When a country has more producers than consumers, it leads to a net surplus and a boosted GDP.

The stats around GDP add their own colour to the demographic story: in the 1970s there were around 35 countries that were growing at 3% or more, today more than 85 countries are enjoying that sort of growth — nearly tripled in around 40 years.

In other words, demographics is now driving economic growth. After all, if you take any take any number and multiply it by 2.5 billion – you get a big number. For example, in three years, there will be 700 million people in India who will be able to afford to buy a smart phone and access to the 3G and 4G network, fuelling a connectivity boom.

As the difference in shape of many countries’ population profiles becomes more pronounced, we’re also moving to a global workplace, fuelled by a greater openness of economies, the expansion of major companies beyond geographical borders, the rise of labour migration and, last but not least, technological advancements. Even the workers who do not venture abroad are still much more likely to work in a more international environment than their counterparts just a generation ago.

So, the reality is that country, age or ethnicity no longer dictate a worker’s geographical scope, particularly with many developing countries reaping the benefits of the demographic dividend to produce many highly skilled and educated workers.

It’s also a more fluid workplace, with global connectivity enabling workers to move around frequently and choosing to migrate for either permanent or temporary jobs. And crucially, technology and connectivity advances means that working from remote locations no longer prevents employees from communicating with their colleagues, allowing teams to collaborate across borders and time zones with ease.

An older worker’s ideal collaboration tool might be one that ‘just works’ intuitively with little to no training required. A millennial will demand consumer-grade design in the workplace that functions as seamlessly as their kit at home does.

Regardless of the nuances or future direction of any demographic profile, it’s the companies which embrace out-of-the-box, seamless collaboration and communication platforms and tools for their workforce, that will be in the best position to succeed in this new hyper-connected world. And while technology shouldn’t be the starting point for how your workplace is defined, it is the glue that holds together the people and the work, and should be carefully considered.

How is the demographic dividend impact your workplace? Share your comments below.