How Is Technology Shaping The Future Workplace?

Hasibuddin Ahmed

February 15, 2016

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When there was no internet, people worked till the office doors closed and went back home, ate their supper and had a good night's sleep. However, technology has now changed a few things. We are living in the information age where our work lives intertwine with the innovations and technologies of the future. Therefore, it wouldn't come as a surprise, if in the future; the term office itself is rendered obsolete. This post talks about the various methods through which technology is changing workplace and workers.

As we stand at the dawn of the third industrial revolution, when cloud and data have become the norm, and the employee has shifted from business to "bleisure", we stand to witness a social, cultural and corporate paradigm shift in our workplaces. With so many changes kicking in at the same time, the offices are bound to become more collaborative, less hierarchical, more flexible and less location-specific. The line between work and home has obliterated as people check personal emails at work and work emails at their places.

What is Bleisure?
Bleisure or (Business plus leisure), is a concept where workplaces are designed to encourage interaction, openness and a sense of freedom. Architects employ social engineering while creating workplaces so that each corner of the office fosters its form of productivity that helps the people to meet the deadlines. There are many practical examples to follow out there. Whether it the Google London HQ which borrows cues from British culture, or the Adobe's office in Palo Alto which includes some design cues from non-work environments so as to inspire the most out of the Bleisure teams. Reports say meeting rooms in this office resemble private booths in US diners, creating a vicinity that is conducive to work and relaxation at the same time.

Move over Internet of Things: It's the age of Everyware
As the Third Industrial Work Revolution is upon us, 9 to 5 jobs become blurred, and careers are now more about collaboration, creativity, and mobile. Cloud computing is kicking in, modifying the physical nature of our work spaces. The way how we connect with each other, the way how we connect the devices are also changing the meaning of how we work and redefining what we mean by work in the future.

Internet of Things is also a big deal now, as reflected by the findings of IDC, which predicted that by 2015, 37% of the world's labor force will become a part of the mobile workforce. Adam Greenfield, the author of Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing has gone a step further to come up with the term The Age of Everyware, which means anything electronic will link to the internet. Which means with more devices connected to each other; our work will be increasingly seamless.

The Age of Wearable Devices
If we talk about wearable devices, most of the activity has been in the consumer market rather than for any business or work related use. However, this is mostly because there is a lot of functionality limitations associated with them currently. But as these devices are made more feature rich and better integration is added, their use in the workspace will increase. IDC research projects a "five-year compound annual growth rate of 45.1%" for wearable. Some areas where we are already witnessing their use include security access, Quick Response codes, timecards, scheduling, and communication.

Millennials: The driving force
There is no way all of these changes are happening just as a factor of time. Millenials or Generation Y are the drivers of the radical changes that our workplaces are undergoing. This generation is feeding on the ideologies of successful entrepreneurs like the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg believes in making the world a more open and connected place. Innovation is the way to go for them. This thinking shapes their career choices as well. A whopping 78% of Millennials would make their next job switch by how innovative a company is according to Deloitte. For this generation, innovation is the hunger to work out a smart solution for world problems such as resource scarcity, climate change, and income equality, and undoubtedly, technology-enabled work environment is of great benefit in this pursuit.

Innovation fosters an environment where companies allow working not just remotely, but also through mobiles and smartphones as their core work devices. The new age worker now rarely cares about lifetime employment and or a retirement scheme. They prefer lifetime learning and ability to make an impact in a short duration of time over everything else. They believe in smart work, more than hard work which requires connecting, creating, collaborating wherever it makes sense. According to Chris Sanderson, co-founder, The Future Laboratory,

"The future is collaborative. It is cloud-based and, more than anything else, it is increasingly about brands, businesses or corporations being more cultural, artisanal and using the seamlessness of technology to facilitate what we believed technology would prevent us from doing - becoming more intimate, local and social."

Hasib is a career expert with knowledge in various domains related to jobs and employment. He has views published on various top career websites. He currently is associated with the India's top job portal as a consultant.

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