How Technology Will Change the Workplace (Again)
Here’s a typical day for me: On my morning commute, I check overnight emails, voicemails, texts and messages - all of course while rocking out to some sweet tunes. I then walk into the office, where throughout the day I jump between all of those, plus various news, video chat, word processing, research, analytics and conference call tools. Commute home, same drill. Rinse. Repeat. I’m sure I’m not alone.
I talked to my (now retired) dad about this on my last visit home and the conversation wandered to how that compared to his work life. Sure, perhaps it was a slower pace - but also the traffic was only coming from a few directions, so it was less frenetic.
We came to the same question. Is all of this technology really helping me at work?
Over the past two decades, the workplace has experienced an explosion of technology. And, our investment in them continues to increase - According to Gartner, worldwide spending on enterprise application software will grow to reach more than $201 billion in 2019.
But many of these workplace innovations solve a niche need or address a functional area - e.g. execute a trade, look up a contact, answer a colleague’s question - and do it well. So well that we’ve all become completely dependent on these tools (me included). But, that reliance means switching between one program and another, and then back again, to get work done throughout the day. Plus, there seems to be no dearth of the latest and greatest tool to try out. This can be incredibly distracting.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2030, Millennials - the hyper-connected, tech savvy generation - will make up 75% of the workforce. So, as technology becomes even more embedded into our lives, and as more “digital natives” join the workforce, the challenge will be to ensure that technology is effectual in the workplace rather than distracting, or even worse, limiting.
No one asked, but I’m going to tell you what I think is about to happen: the next generation of technology will solve the problem today’s worker doesn’t know they have (or, maybe they know but accept it as unsolvable) - broken workflows. Technology that integrates all of those tools into one platform and adapts to your needs, eliminating noise and focusing on the important tasks at hand. I have it on good authority that we’re working on it. Or take it from the seminal rock band the Beatles: “It’s getting better all the time.”