Sarah Warsaw
Sarah Warsaw 24 April 2015

What Do Dolly Parton, Dilbert And Dr. No All Have In Common?

Dr. Nicola Millard explores the future of working conditions from flexible office hours to new age working spaces.

In today’s futuristic working conditions, we are no longer refined to one office and set working hours. These are just two points in Dr. Nicola Millard’s exploration of technology and the present and future conditions of our working lives.

At the Employee Engagement Summit, Dr. Nicola Millard was the stand out speaker. Her enthusiastic delivery is hard not to engage with, in particular her use of metaphors and unusual linkages in her summary of 6D’s to shape the future of work. 


Dr. Millard noted that it’s not technology that is a disruptor, it’s our behaviours that disrupt the way we work:

  • Dilbert - Unlike Dilbert, we now have the ability to choose where we work, be this at home, in a coffee shop (which Nicola named "co-office") or at your desk in the office. In my case, each of those are true, however there is no doubting the value of office collaboration, sitting nearby your colleagues and building face to face relationships with them. Dr. Millard commented that those environments with a social buzz increase productivity, so be sure to see your team regularly if you can! 
  • Dr No - IT departments can no longer say "no" to people bringing their own phones, iPads and laptops to the office; with the rise of bring your own device policies (BYOD). IBM supports this through our own software, but also encourages it in our workforce. Many of us are listed as mobile workers and are using smart phones to read our emails and engage across social media platforms. 
  • Droids - Did you know a robot hotel just opened in Japan? Although robots can be handy for so many things (does Watson count?!) innovation and personal skills just cannot be gained from robots. As our organisations evolve, jobs and roles are created in areas we didn’t even know we existed, for example social media managers, who knew we’d need these 10 years ago? It is important to ensure we don’t lose that personal, people touch in many jobs. 
  • Diversity - Working for a global organisation, diversity in teams and projects is very prevalent and this is hugely influential on the success of team work and innovation. But there’s not only cultural diversity, age diversity is more prominent as young people enter the organisation, and older people aren’t retiring as early as they have done in the past!
  • Dolly In these global organisations, people are no longer working just 9 -5 in the way Dolly Parton sang about. Yes those deadly mobile phones of ours mean not only can we connect with people easily, we can also check emails and continue working at the weekends and during evenings. The boundaries of switching off have been redefined due to these two key factors.
  • Distance Many companies are affected by distance. Conference calls are becoming more prominent, however we all know how frustrating it is when one person is in the car, a heavy breather forgets to go on mute or your audience just isn’t paying attention. It does seem that as technology develops this may be slightly overcome, Nicola mentions new cinema style sound which can pick up voice intonations and automatically mute those heavy breathing culprits - handy hey?

So what does all this mean?

It seems that Dr. Millard has identified a number of key influential factors here, in particular our use of mobile devices and the way global organisations operate.  In my job, I’m no stranger to the mobile phone, flexible desks and the awkward silence when a question is asked on a conference call. Technology has enabled us to work more collaboratively with colleagues all over the world, and the disruption here is the way that we consume and use the technology to work, and in our social lives. 


We benefit hugely from technology, and I am not one to be without my iPhone. Let’s not forget however, the true value of meeting face to face and the benefits you can get from sharing stories, having a drink and really getting to know those you work with, when you can! 

Dr Nicola J. Millard is the Head of Customer Insight & Futures and you can follow her on Twitter


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