24 Oct Three steps to future-proof your workplace technology
Look around your office and you’ll see the impact of technology on the way that we work everywhere. Scan-to-print technology, video calls and interactive whiteboards are all part of a workplace revolution. But this is just the beginning. If we look at Gartner’s 2017 Hype Cycle, the consultancy’s annual examination of emerging technologies, several key trends emerge. Virtual reality, machine learning, deep learning and augmented data discovery are all slated for mainstream adoption within the next two to five years. These technologies are set to directly impact workplace productivity, helping employees work smarter and faster.
And it’s not just industry analysts who have identified these trends. European employees can see how workplace technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will change the way they work.
According to Ricoh’s research, 4-in-10 employees expect that in the near-future they will be working in a job that doesn’t exist today. Scary or exciting? I choose the latter – and so does Europe’s workforce.
Employees foresee that these technologies will impact their working lives in several ways:
• More immediate access to data (44%)
• The ability to work from home more frequently (42%)
• A reduction in repetitive tasks (41%)
• Automation of admin tasks (36%)
All of these factors speak to a much more modern conception of the world of work. One where business data helps employees to make smarter decisions and boosts effectiveness. Productivity is essentially a measure of output over time. By reducing the amount of time wasted on repetitive admin these technologies free up employees to focus on adding real value.
The theory sounds great. But, how can business leaders ensure they’re making the right workplace technology investments to prepare for a more productive future? Here are three tips for identifying and capitalising on these trends:
1) Fully understand your employees’ expectations. 59% of employees believe better technology would have the most positive impact on their working day. Surprisingly, this eclipses higher pay (58%), more colleagues (20%) and benefits such as free food (18%)!
2) Identify and invest in the right form of technology. This may seem like an obvious step, but employees are not convinced their bosses are taking it. 47% of employees don’t think their workplace technology enables any productivity benefits. Employees must be consulted to ensure that investments in technology will actually benefit them as end users.
3) Up-skill existing employees in technology. 56% of European employees want more investment in training on workplace technologies. The temptation at times of change can be to look outward and hire in the expertise necessary to make the most of exciting new technologies. However, in following the previous two steps, employers will have effectively assessed the needs of their business. This includes an analysis of the capabilities of staff to fully utilise the technology being introduced.
It’s telling that only 27% of employees think their company invests the right amount in technology training. This may go some way to explaining why an astonishing 34% of employees say they still don’t feel equipped to use the most common software and hardware solutions such as Microsoft Office, multi-function printers and PCs. Gearing up a business to capitalise on the productivity and cost benefits that new workplace technologies will bring is a complex process.
Of course, technology does not begin and end with itself. Building the foundations for new technologies and the transformations they bring has to start with those who will ultimately decide whether the investment is worth it, the end users: your employees.
For more information, visit www.ricoh.co.uk/thoughtleadership.