“The Future If,” is a global community of business leaders, authors and futurists who explore what our future can look like IF certain technologies, ideas, approaches and trends actually happen. The community looks at everything from AI and automation to leadership and management practices to augmented reality and virtual reality, the 4th industrial revolution and everything in between. Each we explore a new topic and this week we looked at whether we should Fear or Embrace AI, this was the discussion starter we used! Visit TheFutureIf.com to learn more or to request to join the community.
Technology is everywhere, and it plays a huge role in the evolution of offices and workplaces. Our community recently looked to the future to consider what is likely to happen with workplace technology in five years and what we need to do to prepare. Members shared their hopes, dreams, and fears for new workplace technology.
There are a number of angles for this topic, including the difference between what technology will be available and what technology will actually be in use in workplaces. One of the top complaints from employees in every industry is that the technology they are using is outdated, which can make it difficult to be efficient and innovative. In order to change that, organizations need to be aware of the tools their employees need to best do their jobs, and then provide consumer-grade technology that matches the tools we use at home. Employees should be comfortable with the products and using the best of what is available.
New technology can mean growing pains for some companies, especially for larger organizations. As Talent Consultant Mario Tena pointed out, large companies invest time and money to add new software, but it often takes them years to actually implement it so the technology is outdated by the time it is adopted. The most advanced technology is often at small or medium-sized companies that are more agile and can adopt things more quickly. If large companies want to keep up in the future, they need to learn to move more quickly with new technology.
In general, the community was hopeful and excited about the potential of new technology. Some community members suggested that physical workspaces won’t even exist with new technology. E-Care Expert Jad Kahawati suggested that AI and other technology will make it easier to balance work and personal lives, especially with tools like automated dashboards, smart assistants, and proactive IoT services. Work will be able to happen faster and from anywhere in the world, which means employees will be able to fit work into their daily lives with their own schedules and locations. Global Business Regional Head Sundara Narayanan pointed out that although it will likely be easier to manage work from anywhere, it will also be more demanding for employees because there will be more data to use and more technology to streamline processes and increase efficiency.
AI will play a huge role in the future. We’ve already seen it grow like crazy over the last few years, and it will only continue in the future. Senior Workplace Strategy Manager Rob Thornton says everything in the future should be AI enabled so that AI assistants can easily perform tasks like creating PowerPoints and writing emails so employees can focus on other tasks. It might seem crazy to have a robot create a presentation, but that’s definitely where technology is heading.
Workplace technology will definitely help people stay connected and make the world seem smaller. Senior Executive Respiratory Specialist Jeff Rogers predicted we will see better video collaboration tools that will allow users to share ideas and screens in various settings. Instead of having to move around and jump between tools to see video feeds, the future will see integrated videoconferencing that can more easily respond to requests. President at LC Media Lisa Claus shared her hopes for real-time translation, perhaps in the form of an earpiece that translates things like conference calls as they happen, which could open the door for collaboration across languages. Although technology for collaboration is powerful, companies shouldn’t rely on that for their only means of innovation and bringing people together. Founder Karena de Souza warned that organizations need to create opportunities for employees to interact with each other in person to spark creativity instead of relying on people to do it via technology, which can stunt innovation.
There are other challenges involved with new technology, including data. As more data is produced with a greater number of connected devices, keeping it secure will become an even larger task.
IT Project Manager Charlotte Steinmark, who has 25 years of experience in IT, predicted that the future will involve a lot of time securing automated decisions and minimizing risks from systems built by robots. According to her, secure mobile access to all data is the key to keeping information safe.
Workplace technology will certainly change in the next five years, but for most people the change is welcomed and exciting. To prepare now, organizations and employees should stay on top of security, data, and collaboration so prepare for a smooth transition to new technology.
My new book, The Employee Experience Advantage (Wiley, March 2017) analyzes over 250 global organizations to understand how to create a place where people genuinely want to show up to work. Subscribe to the newsletter here or become a member of the new Facebook Community The Future If… and join the discussion.