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Workplaces don’t make best use of tech

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Many employees believe their current workplace is not effectively making use of the latest technology advances, but expect them to do so as remote work is increasingly viewed as providing both quality of life and productivity benefits.
Almost half of global employees surveyed in the Dell/Intel Future Workforce Study believe their current workplace is not smart enough, while 42% of millennial employees say they are willing to quit their job if office technologies are not up to their standard.
The addition of collaborative tools and innovative technologies, such as internet of things (IoT) and virtual reality (VR), will soon become vital to the workplace of the near future.
The 2016 Future Workforce Study, conducted by research firm PSB, was unveiled today at the Resnick Aspen Action Forum as part of a deep dive conversation on “The Future of Talent and Work”. It polled nearly 4 000 full-time employees from small, medium and large businesses in 10 countries, and exposed that over half (57%) of all employees believe they will be working in a smart office within the next five years, while 51% believe that better technologies will make face-to-face meetings redundant within the next five years.
The research shows that the influx of new technology is having a significant impact on what workers expect from their employer, and that workplaces which don’t enact these new advances will be left behind.
“The workplace is reaching a tipping point. Today’s workers have a growing expectation that their employers integrate the latest technologies seamlessly and securely into their working lives,” says Allison Dew, vice-president: global client solutions marketing at Dell. “Employees have seen first-hand the ways new technologies can help them do their jobs better, and are hungry to use the latest advancements to be more productive. While this may seem daunting, it’s a business-critical opportunity for companies to be at the forefront of the future workplace and enable the future workforce.”
Study highlights from the study include:
* Today’s office is not smart enough; however, workers expect to be working in smart offices in the near future. Employees globally feel their offices are not advanced enough and desire an environment that uses data to make “smarter” decisions about employee habits like temperature, lighting, etc. Workers are not only ready for businesses to implement the latest technologies to make their offices smarter, they expect it to happen within the next five years. Specifically, 44% of employees worldwide feel that their workspace isn’t smart enough, and more than half expect to be working in a smart office within the next five years. This expectation is highest amongst the younger workforce, with 69% expecting to be in a smart office within the next five years. The consequences for not meeting these expectations is also greater for the millennial workforce, with 42% saying they would quit a job with substandard technology and 82% saying workplace technology influences what role they would take. Further, a majority of workers place an emphasis on functional benefits with 63% of millennials and 55% of older workers (over 35 years old) indicating they would rather have high tech perks, such as augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) and Internet of Things (IoT) than low-tech perks like ping pong, free food, etc.
* The way we communicate will be the next thing to change. The influx of new technology in the workplace has affected how employees communicate, collaborate and work more efficiently. In fact, with many employees believing that face-to-face meetings will be obsolete soon, the norms of office communication could be the next major change impacting the workplace. While 57% of global employees still prefer to have face-to-face conversations with colleagues, half of global employees and three in five millennials think better communication technology and remote teams will make face-to-face conversation obsolete in the near future. In fact, a majority of workers in China, India and South Africa already do not prefer face-to-face conversations and instead use collaborative technologies to communicate with colleagues. Within this evolution, 79% of millennials believe workspaces are more collaborative than they used to be, and over 70% of millennials feel that advanced tech/smart offices are crucial to a collaborative, productive and efficient work environment. Further, employees noted that virtual-sharing allows for collaboration with colleagues while remote capabilities would be the most beneficial technology integration into their office lives.
* Virtual reality and artificial intelligence could impact the workplace sooner than we think. Cutting edge technologies including virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence may soon play a pivotal role in how we work, and employees are expecting these technologies to impact their lives soon. While millennials are the keenest for this convergence, interestingly it isn’t just the younger workforce who are looking forward to the introductions of these technologies into their working lives. Two thirds (66%) of the global population would be willing to use AR/VR products in their professional lives, while 46% believe the technologies will improve productivity within their individual role. Just under two thirds (62%) also believe that the introduction of artificial intelligence will make their job easier, while half (50%) say AI will lead to more productivity in the workplace, with 30 percent listing the ability to automate complex or repetitive tasks as the major immediate advantage.
* Remote employment allows global workers to focus on both productivity and quality of life benefits equally, revealing the range of advantages that flexible working provides. Evolving technology has already had a huge impact on modern employee lifestyles. Technology has allowed people to change their lifestyles, and in turn, this has impacted their work styles and preferences. With these changes, employers are offering more flexible work arrangements to keep up with this evolution to cater to the mobile worker. Over half (52%) of employees already work outside of a traditional office at least one day a week, while 18% are working from a public location every week. Employees are also seeing the advancement of technologies to better enable these new working arrangements, with respondents listing advanced security protection as the single most important technology to be implemented into their workplace.
“Advanced technology and collaboration has significantly grown in importance, especially as millennials are entering the workforce,” said Julie Coppernoll McGee, vice president, global marketing and communications, Intel. “As the research outlines, we’re seeing this generation play a vital role in the direction of employer decisions, and is leading the way to influence the adoption of emerging tech, strong communication tools and flexible work environments. A technologically modern workplace is necessary to create a productive, happy and capable workplace for everyone.”
“The Future Workforce Study underlines the significant cultural shift taking place right now in how individuals approach their professional lives and their desired office experience,” says Jon Slavet, GM of WeWork. “At WeWork, our members demand an experience that provides substance and meaning and the ability to collaborate in a thoughtful way, either commercially or for the greater good, with their neighbours. From start-ups and entrepreneurs to large companies like Dell, WeWork provides a beautiful space, thriving community, services and amenities that encourage collaboration, contributes to the community and allows our members to achieve their goals. This research points directly to the need for a fresh, more digitally focused approach to workplace collaboration.”
“The massive changes that are occurring in the workplace are like a tale of two cities; those companies that are modernizing, especially with mobility, will attract and retain top talent, those who don’t will create employee frustration, lower productivity and employee unhappiness,” says Bob Egan, chief analyst and founder at Sepharim Research Group. “The Future Workforce Study discovered that millennials are driving massive changes in how and where work gets done, use multiple devices, and prefer to work up to 60% of the time away from a traditional office. The result is an important mandate for CIOs to modernize the infrastructure, redefine their security perimeter and device provision strategies.”