Walk into almost any workplace, big or small, and you’ll quickly see how technology has transformed the way we work. Whether you’re a freelancer, a delivery driver, or a CHRO, one thing is clear: The modern office has adapted to new technology and tools in a number of ways to cater for changes in evolving workplace needs and working styles.
How, for example, did we live without Skype or Slack? Think about the Otis Elevator. Otis’ invention lifted cities and freed us from the tyranny of stairs as tall workplaces started to pop up in cities. But, Skype or the elevator, of course, is not the only inventions that solved humankind’s pesky everyday work problems. More importantly, remote workers and entrepreneurs enjoyed better careers as laptops and smart devices grew more popular.
The modern office must continually evolve to stay relevant. It has to provide smart technology to the interconnected workforce to encourage collaborative brainstorming so the focus remains on efficiency, interconnected-ness, sustainability, and productivity. What could the workplace possibly look like in another 50 years to come?
Real-time collaboration has been the essence of the modern office. Think of the time that’s wasted due to technical issues encountered while trying to set up an inter-departmental online meeting. The current generation of real-time collaboration office tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams promise improved productivity and enhanced workflow between different teams. For instance, screen sharing on Google Docs allows different people to design a car or edit a video simultaneously.
VR and AR
With Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, real-time collaboration will no longer be a source of distraction and frustration. Imagine two interior designers in different cities looking at the same 3D hologram of a workspace using their AR glasses. They can scrutinize the design, make tweaks in real time and walk through the project together.
VR and AR will expand the modern office to something that’s more than four walls and people in cubicles. It will provide collaboration regardless of location and proximity of individuals to each other.
Internet of Things
As we increase the number of gadgets in an ever interconnected smart office, there is more need to connect them to one another. IoT will empower office workers to become more efficient and increase productivity while saving time. For example, your calendar says there is a meeting at 9 am in the conference room. When you get there, the smart coffee machine has already brewed coffee without anyone pressing a button, and the audiovisual equipment has set itself up.
During the meeting, you are tasked with a meeting with a prospective client that afternoon. Your smartphone automatically adds the meeting to the calendar. At noon, your smart car is ready to take you to the destination it knows from the calendar without you having to enter it.
IoT devices will communicate and anticipate all your workplace needs. At the end of the day, you’ll save time and focus on what really matters.
A recent Zoom survey found that 73% of respondents expect artificial intelligence to have a positive impact on meeting. There are invaluable ways in which AI can increase ease of work, productivity and overall workplace efficiency. For example, ROSS, an artificial intelligence program based on IBM”s Watson AI system that is designed to step into the role of a lawyer. It can skim through data to get you facts from a decade ago and how it relates to a current case. With the help of machine learning, ROSS can become an integral part of a law firm, helping them with various cases.
AI can help eliminate the time wasted doing repetitive, non-core tasks. At the end of the day, it will help employees focus on what matters the most. For example, Textio, a Seattle-based company, provides AI-based software that can help companies write effective job postings and recruiting emails. Perhaps using AI we can enhance various human resources functions.
The Remote Workforce
A recent survey notes that 34% of employers expect more than half of their workforce to work remotely by the end of the decade. More importantly, 25% of business leaders believe that 75% of their workforce would be working remotely by 2020.
The survey has provided a lot to ponder upon. There’s no doubt that remote workers are the happiest, thanks to increased flexibility and level of autonomy enjoyed. Working remotely increases productivity as workplace distractions are eliminated. More so, it reduces employee turnover which is one of the costliest expenditures for organizations.
With the right tools, businesses can reduce management costs, boosts motivation and enhance teamwork within the remote workforce. Things like real-time collaboration, VR and AR, and cloud computing will allow companies to allow greater autonomy and flexibility within the workforce.