Have you ever imagined how the workplace of the future will be?
If you were asked to describe your workplace, how would you go about doing so? Do you work in an office? What does your work area look like — do you have an actual office, a cubicle, an open workspace designed for collaboration? Or do you do most of your work somewhere else, like a home office or on the road? What tools do you use to work?
Today’s workplaces look almost nothing like those of a generation ago. According to one recent study, almost 40 percent of workers telecommute at least part time, up from just 9 percent in 1995. About 70 percent of workplaces have low or no partitions between workers, and even senior executives work in open areas with the rest of the staff. And it’s not just physical workspaces that are changing. In fact, the very nature of work itself has changed considerably over the last 50 years, leading to one inescapable question: What will the workplace of the future look like?
While there are a number of trends influencing the way that we work in the modern era, perhaps none is as transformative as technology. Technology has been one of the driving forces in the shift toward telecommuting and flexible work, but it also has a profound influence on other aspects of the workplace.
The cloud has changed just about everything about how businesses operate today, and it will continue to change the workplace of the future. Some of the ways that the cloud is changing the workplace include:
- More flexible work arrangements. The days of a 9-to-5 work schedule appear to be numbered, as cloud services allow employees to make more flexible arrangements to better meet their own needs. Expect to see an increase in telecommuting as more companies adopt cloud solutions to increase flexibility.
- More diverse teams. The cloud also allows for teams to become more diverse, as workers do not have to all be in the same place. Businesses can hire talented individuals from virtually anywhere, increasing their talent pool and allowing employees more flexibility to live where they wish while still cultivating a career.
- Improved collaboration. Cloud services allow employees to collaborate in real time, again making it easier for effective telecommuting and diverse workforces.
The bottom line is that the cloud is one of the biggest drivers of change in the workplace, making computing faster, more flexible, and less expensive than ever before.
Increased Use of Applications
We’ve become an app-driven society. Thanks to smartphones and tablets, we’ve become used to doing pretty much everything with just a few taps on the screen. We expect that ease of use to extend to our work environment as well, with the tools we use every day made as simple as possible. Look for the continued “applification” of work to continue into the future.
The Internet of Things
It seems like just about everything is connected to the internet these days, from our appliances to toys. While some of these connections seem a bit unnecessary, the IoT is going to play a major role in the future of business and work. From office furniture that can sense how you are working and automatically adjust to be ergonomically correct to the continued development of tools that streamline simple tasks, the IoT will make work faster, easier, and more connected.
Finally, no discussion of the workplace of the future is complete without addressing big data. All of the new tools from apps to IoT devices to the cloud are generating data, which is ripe for analysis and interpretation. Armed with information gleaned from those tools, businesses can make smarter, more relevant changes and increase the productivity and satisfaction of their workforce.
Preparing for Tomorrow Today
These four examples are just a few of the ways that technology is changing the workplace from how we once knew it. As things continue to develop, there is going to be a need for more trained individuals who can create the networks and applications that will define the future of work.
Beyond working on the technical side of workplace development, though, you can be a part of the future by embracing new technology today, and serve as a catalyst to move your company forward. Much of the change will be driven by millennials, who are expected to comprise more than 70 percent of the total workforce within the next 10 years, but even if you aren’t a part of that generation, accepting and welcoming the changes will create a stronger, more creative, and more flexible workplace for the future.