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The Future of Work is NOT About Replacing Sharepoint and Email

Posted by on May 3, 2013

Some still believe that the whole point of investing in enterprise collaboration tools and strategies is simply to replace existing systems that organizations are currently using such as Sharepoint and/or email.  Let me be clear that it is about far more than that.  At the core; we are talking about the future of work.  Technology is inevitably a part of that but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

For as long as organizations have existed there has been a set of unwritten conventions that we have all followed.  Some of them are that employees came into the office at 9 and worked until 5, managers made all the decisions and those who brought in the most money got promoted, work was done on a company assigned computer, the communication was handled through email or some legacy intranet system, fear or getting a paycheck was the primary motivator to work, employees stuck to their own departments, and a sense of palpable hierarchy misted through the office.  In short, work was not pleasant.  As I’ve repeated many times, some of the dictionary synonyms for “employee” are: slave, cog, servant.  Synonyms for “work” include drudgery and daily grind.  And synonyms for “manager” include: slave-driver and zookeeper.

Replacing Sharepoint and email is not going to change the fact that our organizations were built from the ground up with these types of stereotypes firmly in place.

What we are talking about is an evolution of work, or perhaps a revolution of work.  We are challenging the very ideas of what it means to “work” and this goes far beyond technology.  We are questioning and challenging what it means to be an employee or a manager and what it means to work at company and have a “job.”  Fixed career paths are being replaced by customized work; managers who got promoted just by bringing in revenue are being supplanted by those who can collaborate with others and build an engaged workforce; a strict hierarchy is being replaced by a more horizontal, open, and transparent culture; the wisdom of a few is being replaced by the knowledge of many; the notion of working 9-5 from an office is being replaced by the idea of being able to “connect to work;” an employee feeling like a cog is being replaced by the voice of the engaged employee; email and intranets are being replaced by networked and connected systems; yearly reviews are being replaced by real-time feedback; working in silos is being replaced by cross-boundary collaboration, and the traditional idea of what it means to be an organization is being replaced by evolving to a collaborative organization.

No, the future of work is not about replacing Sharepoint and email, it’s about re-defining what work means, why we work, and how we work.  Pass this along to anyone who thinks otherwise.






  • This is a great piece on the culture revolution needed in the work-place to unlock increased productivity and ROI. Companies that can guide their staff to make this shift will see a real competitive advantage. They will also win the talent war as their empowered employees will enjoy their work.

    Andrew Kratz
    Social Edge Consulting

  • This is absolutely on target, but recognizing and acknowledging the need and then, implementing the cross-organization changes requires a big leap of faith. Is the company brave enough? We already know what happens to organisms that don’t evolve.

    Perhaps the bigger contribution the start-up culture is making is not the technology that’s being created but the proof that this new approach to what the “workplace” is and does not only works but is a major catalyst for great work.

  • Anna Pham

    Love your idea about redefining work and why we work. Thanks for sharing.