One of the things the COVID-19 pandemic has done is highlight the use and importance of tech in the workplace – and for the workforce. Literally overnight, whole companies that had never considered remote working have been thrust into doing it.
What we’ve learned is that the tech is available and very much usable. The age-old fear of embracing tech has been cleared away overnight and the do or die saying could never be more true.
Here are four megatrends shaping the future of tech in the workplace.
1. Remote working
Remote working is here to stay. While we don’t feel the physical office will disappear, it will be re-purposed to accommodate the increase in remote working days. Providing flexibility, comfort, control and connectivity is going to be the key to a successful remote working platform. It will also be critical to have the correct infrastructure in place to enhance the collaboration, connectivity and creativity of the workforce. Like it or not, many organisations will embrace a balanced approach to remote working given the myriad benefits such as lower costs, enhanced wellness and productivity, and reduced absenteeism.
2. Smart buildings
Smart buildings are increasingly popping up in cities across the world, both residential and commercial. The smart workplace experience has been proven to help companies attract, engage and retain talent. Studies have confirmed that the physical workplace significantly impacts company performance. This is why many organisations are increasingly focusing on creating unique workplace experiences that place people at the centre of construction, design, layout, and operation. From smart lighting and temperature control, to door access and on-demand desk or meeting bookings, technology is giving workers more control over their physical environments. At the same time, technology is providing organisations with insights into how people use and interact with their space. This data is highly valuable as it can help organisations make better educated decisions on workplace design and layout.
3. Digital workforce
“A digital worker refers to technology — including artificial intelligence, intelligent process automation (including content intelligence), robotics, and augmented reality and virtual reality — that performs tasks, jobs, and activities previously accomplished by a human worker.” Rather than replace human beings, digital workers can enhance our individual capabilities, freeing up more of our time to focus on higher-value tasks. Previous research has found that digital workers can: improve productivity; improve business operations; enable better decision making; improve customer and employee experience; reduce costs; and mitigate security risks.
4. The always on culture
Because technology has given us the power to work from anywhere at any time, it has also given us the “always on culture”. Many professionals find it hard to switch off from work when they’re at home or with loved ones because the technology that enables them to work is always there, readily available. The always on culture affects workplace culture more broadly and can lead to increased stress levels and burnout, which can dampen productivity and performance. Companies need to address this by nurturing a culture that encourages people to switch off from work when they’re at home, out of business hours, with family, or on vacation. If they don’t, they can suffer negative effects on overall company performance.
While work life and technology will continue to evolve at a rapid pace, the key to our mental and emotional wellbeing in the future will be understanding how humans and machines can best work together to improve humanity for all. Our close partnership with technology will also mandate that people embrace and be mindful of what makes us human to begin with, namely, our personal connection to others.