Tech and the Future of Work

Posted on the 24 June 2020

Tech and the Future of Work

Back in January 1987, OMNI magazine featured predictions from 14 ‘great minds’ about what the future held; specifically, the world of 20 years hence.

Focusing on the future of information technology, Bill Gates shared the view that data would be accessible and that voice recognition technology would become part of the daily routine: “The dream of having a world database at your fingertips will have become a reality. Also, we will have serious voice recognition. I expect to wake up and say, “Show me some nice Da Vinci stuff.”

These predications were almost exact but while forecasting what the next 20 years hold for technology can be difficult, especially in today’s ever-changing landscape, it's clear that technology will play a huge role in shaping the future workplace.

In recent weeks, businesses across the globe have utilised technology to drive business forward, adopting videoconferencing software for business communications and cloud computing for accounting, customer relationship and data management.

These platforms and tools, while initially a necessity to begin with, have made tasks easier and more efficient, allowing us to connect and collaborate regardless of location.

For John Burns, Managing Director of Diamond Group, the future of the workplace has changed forever, and technology has played a huge part in it.

“When lockdown was initially introduced, many scrambled to grab a laptop, charger and any leftover snacks from their drawers, comfortable in the thought that a hastily established working from home set-up wouldn’t last too long."

“One of the key things we’ve learned during lockdown, and the (for some) new and unfamiliar territory of remote working, is the importance of communication.

IT Director at Diamond, Colin Grant added, “Software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies have achieved mainstream recognition due to their rapid mainstream adoption, and video conferencing platforms have really come into their own during the lockdown.

“Platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Circuit have made it easy to connect and catch up with your team and are proving to be an efficient communication tool for all aspects of business.

“Consider, for example, using those platforms to conduct candidate interviews, employee appraisals or prospective meetings with clients. Before lockdown, travelling to see a potential client was the norm, which often resulted in hours spent away from the office for travel. Now, the convenience of video conferencing can’t be ignored.”

The same technology, John admits, has been paramount in building strong team relationships, boosting morale and strengthening organisational culture.

“We’ve found that taking time for a Zoom quiz, introducing random questions to briefing calls to get to know each other better, or even taking five minutes out of your day to talk about something other than work with a colleague leads to a happy and engaged team. And a happy, engaged team leads to happy clients and customers.”

John adds that in pre-lockdown circumstances, working remotely meant being able to pick up and do work in an environment you choose – whether that is at home, a coffee shop, or a work hub.

While having to work from home can have its advantages, John admits that productivity can dwindle when working from the same environment for long periods of time. This is again where technology can help, he states.

“For those of us working from home for the long haul, one of the main challenges is keeping productivity up and resisting the urge to stay in your pyjamas and put This Morning on while checking up on emails. But just because your desk is now your dining table, it doesn’t mean the tools we use to stay on track in the office are completely redundant.

“If you usually rely on a paper to-do list to keep you on track, there are plenty of online platforms out there to keep your productivity going. Microsoft To Do and Todoist are both top choices to give you that ticking-off satisfaction.

“However, if you’re struggling to stay on schedule, give time management tool a try. Apps such as Harvest, Clockify and Toggl will help you realise how much time you’re spending on each task, and it can be a great feeling looking back at just how much you got done over a certain period of time.”

Using task and time management tools to boost productivity and work satisfaction will be key in the future, John states, but only when used in collaboration with other software and tools.

“With staff spread all over the region (if not the country) and all trying to access, view and edit documents, now is the time to invest in an efficient file sharing tool,” states John, “Whether it’s via a cloud-based system or software like Google Drive, having everything your team needs in one place will make working from home smoother for everyone.”

Regardless of the software or platform, John reminds us that these emerging products are a symbol of the future workplace to come.

“While we may not shift completely to remote working yet, still holding onto a few smaller offices instead of the large open-plan space, much of the future of work will be distributed. It’s a trend that’s not going away and those who recognise the importance of these tools and products will thrive.”