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The Workplace 2020
I cannot believe that I am writing anything about the year 2020. It almost sounds like a science fiction movie title and yet it is only ten short years away. I say “short” because this past decade flew by at an inconceivable pace in my own mind. The reality of the present is that 2020 is just around the corner and the corner is getting closer as we speak.

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The Facebook Future

By John Grubbs

Almost twenty years ago, the President of the company that I worked for made the statement, “If I catch any of my managers wasting time on a computer, I will fire them!”  I can still recall the days of memorandums that copied others as the primary form of internal business communication.  Wow, so much has changed so fast that it is almost impossible to absorb. 

Email and Outlook or similar platforms along with internet are the foundations for organizational communication today.  The next generation of managers will never know any other methodology to communicate unless we experience another communication shift.  Could there be another huge paradigm shift that is happening so slowly that we do not readily acknowledge its existence?  Could we be seeing yet another major shift as we speak?

Most managers and employees that I interview are quick to admit (off the record) that they check their Facebook page before they check company email.  They only typical exception is when they have Facebook live on their mobile device. 

The current perception of Facebook in the business world is that of wasting time.  This sentiment is not much different from the perception of computers twenty years ago.  The concept of time is evolving and we are experiencing a major shift in how work is measured.  That being said, Facebook could be the next iteration in the constantly changing world of communication.  Today, I actually have business contacts that respond faster to Facebook messages than traditional company email.

The prevalence of smart phones such as Blackberry, IPhone and Droids all have platforms to support an ever changing demand for access to Facebook.  This quick hit message system requires only a data package and quick download from the internet.  With the buzz about corporate email security and control, younger managers are simply using the traditional email medium as a last resort or sometimes necessary avenue to communicate.  What does this mean for the future of communication?

With almost every modern thinking company now having a Facebook presence and over five hundred million users and growing, the progressive organizations are definitely going to make a more profitable use of Facebook. 

While only speculation at this point, the trends reveal some interesting possibilities about the future.  The internet as we know it will most likely remain as the information super highway; however the vehicles we use to travel will certainly change.  Traditional websites that lack a concrete social media link are already dinosaurs awaiting extinction.  Companies that resist the enormous demand to accept Facebook will simply break under the pressure.  Attempts to control or limit mobile device usage in the workplace will be the losing battle of myopic leaders in the future.   These nearly blind managers will not or cannot see the almost endless communication potential of both the devices and the medium.  Progressive thinking leaders will see the potential for better communication in Facebook. 

The best explanation for the modern mindset is simply to go where the people are in order to get them the message you want them to hear.  If they are already going to be on Facebook, then that is the best place to communicate with them.  This works for all organizational stakeholders from suppliers to employees to customers.

Unless another major change takes place, the most likely method to communicate with others in business is going to be on Facebook.  A quick message with someone you have built rapport with by looking at their profile pictures can be the norm.  And just like most email accounts of the present, companies will have a Facebook presence that is official and it may or may not be linked to personal accounts.  The clearly defined lines between business and personal are already changing.  Companies are going to the people on Facebook as “friends” and “likes” as we speak.  It simply doesn’t make sense to ignore this potential with your own team members as well.

This does not mean that all of your personal photos on Facebook will be fair game for your boss.  It does mean that your ability to “like or follow” a business will give mutually acceptable parameters for what is seen and not seen.  The delicate balance between personal and business will also evolve as the business world enters the Facebook era.  Both sides will have to agree to honor the boundaries of the new electronic relationships that will soon develop.  Ignoring the boundaries will simply get you “unliked” and you will close the communication portal that previously existed.

Social media will evolve to the point that is no longer considered “a” way of doing business and eventually become “the” way of doing business.  Marketing savvy companies like Disney are already exploiting the vast potential for Facebook.  Free access to millions of current and future customers is a no brainer for business.  Failing to understand the Facebook potential is like making “buggy whips” or “typewriters”.  We are seeing the beginning of the end companies that do not embrace the potential for Facebook.


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