The way we work is changing, and, not surprisingly, technology is playing a big part in that shift. New and emerging technologies have quickly changed the way people think about where and how they work, subsequently transforming the communication styles, workflow patterns, and organizational policies of many of today’s workplaces.
Technology in the workplace has evolved significantly over the past couple of decades. The office environment of the past is no longer, and has quickly been taken over by rapid technological advancement—allowing employees to communicate and collaborate globally and even take work out on the road.
In 2020, technology will continue to impact workplaces and the behaviors of the people that inhabit them. Here are four trends to look out for and consider for your own organization.
Cloud-Based Tools to Accommodate Working Styles
Today, the option for flexible working styles, whether that be remote work, gig-style careers, or “create your own” work hours, is more popular than ever. In recent years, the number of workplaces that offer flexible work arrangements has grown exceptionally as organizations and telecommuters alike realize the immense benefits of working remotely. In fact, a study by Zenefits revealed that 78% of employees said flexible work arrangements made them more productive.
Flexible work arrangements aren’t possible without supportive technology, however. In particular, cloud-based tools, such as ERP systems, document sharing apps, and other popular office technologies will drive this shift in working habits, as they enable employees to communicate and share information regardless of location. On the other hand, offerings that are at various stages of cloud readiness and don’t work as a cohesive suite, like those from Infor or Workday, may instead make it more difficult to maintain a unified workforce as working habits shift. Be sure to seek cloud-based solutions that connect and integrate across all lines of business in order to reap the cloud’s full benefits.
Virtual and Augmented Reality to Boost Employee Training+
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) found their fame in gaming phenomenons like Pokemon Go and Oculus Rift, but are increasingly being adopted in HR processes. AR is the technology that overlays information and virtual objects on real-world scenes in real-time, adding computer-generated graphics to a pre-existing environment, whereas VR typically uses a type of wearable headset and completely immerses the user into a seemingly different dimension.
In 2020, employers also are tapping into AR and VR to help recruit, train, and retain employees with VR simulations. These technologies can complement modern training efforts, particularly in hands-on job roles such as medical or manufacturing professionals and offer employees the opportunity to practice new skills before taking them into the field. In the medical field specifically, one study found medical students who were given VR training for a specific procedure completed it 20% faster and completed 38% more steps correctly than those in the traditionally trained group.
Artificial Intelligence-Based Tools to Create More Simple and Efficient Workflows
Many companies have found the use of artificial intelligence (AI)-based tools in the workplace, such as process automation and chatbots. In fact, in early 2019, Gartner reported 37% of organizations had implemented AI in some form. Because of AI’s many benefits in productivity, efficiency, and even employee engagement, use of AI in the workplace isn’t expected to diminish in 2020.
When it comes to day-to-day workflows, AI will have a widespread impact for many types of professionals. Take project management for example. One study by Accenture found managers spend 54% of their time on project management-related administrative tasks. However, with AI technologies, this is expected to reduce to 25%, while simultaneously doubling the time spent on strategy and innovation. With AI-powered tools like Asana, and Trello popularizing the workplace, project managers can spend more time on activities requiring greater attention and less time on the menial aspects of jobs.
Increased Focus on Cybersecurity Efforts
Cyberattacks and data breaches seem to be a regular occurrence, but with institutions now being held responsible for protecting employee and customer data, stakes have never been higher. In fact, it’s expected that 95% of all security breaches are caused by human error. With that in mind, this year there will be a greater focus on using technology to create or strengthen company-wide cybersecurity strategies.
For example, passwords are at the core of every security policy, yet ensuring they’re secure and enforced isn’t easy.. A password manager for businesses, like LastPass, can set company-wide minimum password standards to meet specific policy requirements. Many times, encouraging a workforce to stay on top of password security can be difficult; people tend to create weak passwords they can easily remember, and then reuse those same passwords across applications. A password manager creates, remembers, and fills in information to ensure high-quality passwords. It takes the responsibility off employees, while also improving password security.
Like many aspects of our lives, it’s evident that technology will have a major impact on the workplace, its employees, and its practices for years to come. As we look ahead into this decade, be sure to find new ways to incorporate technology trends into your workplace.
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