Four Predictions That Will Shape the Way we Work

Ian Taylor

Guest Blog by Paul Cunningham, CMO at Unify

Four Predictions That Will Shape the Way we Work

The world and the way we work in it is advancing at an incredible pace and digital transformation (DX) is a major consideration for businesses who want to succeed in the future. 2018 promises to be a pivotal year in this new era.

While some will feel that they have only just begun to grasp the implications of the modern workplace such as the changing attitudes and technology involved in making it a success, it is important to acknowledge we are approaching a tipping point.

We will see the workplace advance beyond the current foundations of social, mobile and cloud as they are complemented and extended  by the next wave of factors impacting  the way we work such as  artificial intelligence (AI), process automation, bots (software/hardware) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

So, how will shifts in attitude and the mainstream adoption of artificial intelligence and IoT change the way we work?

Work at home analytics advances

One of the ongoing concerns surrounding remote working has been the ability for managers  to monitor the productivity of people  beyond their immediate view. I predict the arrival of new software-and-sensor-based applications that can assess the efforts, productivity, compliance and eventually wellbeing of those working remotely.

We will see pre-emptive notifications that can flag issues such as excessive meetings or lack of downtime before they arise, and likewise, great performance metrics for previously intangible inputs like collaboration and knowledge sharing can be acknowledged and rewarded proactively.

This new degree of visibility and control will likely meet with some controversy and resistance, but ultimately become an accepted part of managing certain remote job roles, particularly as new models of trust, consent and security are established in the digitally transformed business environment

Bots in the workplace

Taking my first prediction one step further, the same manager may be assisted by a (software) robot that assigns and distributes work, monitors, evaluates, and even follows up with you to ensure things are on track. Think, project planning or equipment status notifications but with intelligence and a natural, conversational user experience.

Similarly, expect customer service automation to accelerate with the advent of smarter products and connected devices (self-sensing, self-diagnosing, usage-tracking, learning) within the IoT. This means that automated service bots could understand, respond and converse more intelligently and generate outcomes that will more efficiently answer questions, resolve problems, and proactively suggest actions that may help customers’ and users’ experiences with their products and services.

Integrated collaborative working

While communication standards such as telephone and email have their place (and some would say their day),  we are seeing a shift towards social, collaborative tools and unified communications in the workplace; a  trend which shows no sign of slowing. As the critical mass of users grow, these collaboration tools will evolve to create tremendous value as specific task enablers, integrated with vertical industry solutions to deliver greater value, not just for in-house virtual teams and remote workers, but between organisations and their customers, partner networks and ecosystems.

IoT also allows for a far more integrated approach to all the tools, apps and devices that workers require, and they will demand integration.  The potential for conflict between centralised IT operations and devolved or even unseen line-of-business adoption of the new way to work will require the development of an accord to define  best practices, protocols, and decision guidance as to when to use the new cloud-based collaboration and integration platforms and when to persist with tried-and-true email systems (and for how long).

Remote workers will unite and business will become more flexible

Worker meet ups and collaborative working sessions will become more and more commonplace in order to overcome the perceived isolation of working from home or away from the traditional office. For almost a decade our research and our day-to-day experience as leaders and advocates on virtual working has shown social isolation to be a potential  downside.

Millennials in particular want a different balance between remote and centred office working allowing them to  benefit from the social networking and career development opportunities that the physical workspace provides, while enjoying some flexibility. This will drive the continued growth in cities and urban workspaces and will be compounded by the continuing growth of the gig economy and portfolio career that digital transformation is affecting.

Companies will have to become more familiar with their employees’ motivations and attitudes as well as flexible with their working habits and will be required to invest not just in technology but in strategies, communications tools and physical facilities that achieve this balance.

 

Guest Blog by Paul Cunningham, CMO at Unify

Paul Cunningham Unify

Paul Cunningham

Unify is one of the world’s leading communications software and services firms, providing integrated communications solutions for approximately 75 percent of the Fortune Global 500. Our solutions, including Circuit, unify multiple networks, devices and applications into one easy-to-use platform that allows teams to engage in rich and meaningful conversations. The result is a transformation of how the enterprise communicates and collaborates that amplifies collective effort, energises the business, and enhances business performance. Unify has a strong heritage of product reliability, innovation, open standards and security. Unify is an Atos company.


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