Technology Redefined in the Digital Workplace of the Future
Gone are the days when you drove or took a train to work, turned on your trusty desktop computer, fired up your monitor and used your landline for all your business calls. Today’s digital workplace has changed dramatically over the past few years, and many employers are wondering what the next few will entail.
One theme that the digital workplace, or the “workplace of the future,” emphasizes is the experience of the employees: How they work is becoming more important than the technology or tools they work with. For example, all employees should receive a laptop and mobile device that have the same security and capabilities, regardless of their job within the organization. The focus needs to be on the role and the experience that influences the type of technology an employee uses. That will lead to happier and more productive employees — not to mention a lower turnover rate, lower real-estate costs, higher productivity and more.
The Employee Is King
The driving force behind every organization, large or small, is its employees. Whether it’s an assembly technician in an automobile manufacturing facility or the CEO of a startup, each one is important; businesses live and die by their employees. So it’s only natural to think IT departments should make their employees their first priority, right? Not necessarily. More and more, IT organizations are thinking about other questions, such as:
- What is the cost of mobile technology, and will a solution fit in the budget?
- What are the compatibility concerns of moving applications and workloads from on premises to the cloud?
- Should PCs, Macs or both be used? How will all these environments be supported?
- What applications should be built?
- Is the IT infrastructure secure from cybercriminals and other security threats?
These are all valid questions for chief information officers (CIOs), but they can miss the point when it comes to workplace productivity and employee experience. The concept of the workplace of the future starts with the employee first and foremost. Examples of employee-driven technology decisions include:
- What role does an employee play within an organization (e.g., executive, sales person or warehouse worker)?
- What are the employee’s primary job functions?
- What other employees or departments do they need to interact with? Are the employees mostly desk-bound, using a phone or are they traveling to meet customers face-to-face?
- What types of technology applications do these employees typically use on a daily basis?
Questions like these (and many more) are some of the key thoughts to consider when imagining what your workplace of the future will look like.
Technology Is Secondary
I’ve been in the technology industry for most of my roughly 25-year career. The one consistent aspect throughout that whole period has been that I’ve always been supplied the technology I need to do my job. Sure, that technology has changed from desktops to notebook computers to mobile phones and, more recently, to tablets.
In the workplace of the future, that mindset is changing dramatically. Instead of blindly assigning the same computer and general technology to the entire workforce, employees are starting to get a choice. But it’s much more than just a choice about technology; it’s also a choice of work location, work hours and many other decisions that are all leading to a better, more productive experience for employees. The type of technology is becoming secondary in the workplace. IT decisions are centered around employee productivity, with a strong focus on the type of job and its function, which then lead to technology decisions.
Don’t get me wrong, the workplace of the future is not just about unlimited spending to make employees as happy as they can be; cost and efficiency are always considerations. But the mindset of “technology first, employees second” is changing.
The Digital Workplace of the Future Is Already Here
Technology is changing at a frantic pace, and it’s easy to do what we’ve always done and make the safe decision based on traditional IT standards. The workplace of the future has proven time and again that considering employee behaviors first and technology decisions second drives higher efficiency and productivity in the digital workplace.