Whenever we talk about the workplace of the future it’s hard not to imagine flying cars and tubes that bring you straight to work from your front door. However, the real workplace of the future looks a lot like your workplace does right now. The difference will be in how efficiently and flexibly we work. In fact, most of the tools that will give us that futuristic flexibility are already here, we’re just not familiar enough with them yet.
Let’s take a look at a few technologies every employee will need to understand in the real workplace of the future.
You may not know it but you probably use some form of software as a service (Saas) at work at the moment. In a nutshell, Saas is any software that you access online rather than downloading and running directly on your machine. As remote working becomes more common and mobile technology becomes more advanced, you will find yourself accessing the same software via multiple devices and form factors. You won’t list ‘Saas’ on your CV but if you intend to work remotely you should be flexible enough to work just as efficiently with your smartphone as your desktop.
The idea that you have a file held on your computer at your desk is already a thing of the past but it’s important that you understand how to manage storage that can be accessed from anywhere – rather than just saving a file to a shared drive. Uploading files to a cloud drive, synching and accessing via another device will just become how you access information. If you are still expecting people to send you every file by email or on a flash drive – you need to familiarise yourself with cloud storage.
As well as being televised (or live-streamed via Periscope) the revolution will most definitely be measured. As more and more of your work becomes managed via technology that work becomes more and more measurable. The most effective companies, and employees, will be the ones who can best understand and use their data. You will be expected to do the same, people who are skilled in identifying key metrics and reacting to the results will be sought after in every sector.
Everybody knows that despite its popularity Email is a cumbersome form of communication – that’s why many people have replaced it with messaging services like WhatsApp and Viber in their personal lives. That same change is likely to happen in the workplace with services like Slack aiming to bring the flexibility of messaging apps to business conversation. You know the guy who always sends one line mails without a greeting or a sign off? That will be everyone in the future, and you should probably follow suit.
Finally, one that’s a little farther off. Most people still think of video games when they hear the term ‘virtual reality’ but it may be business that brings the virtual reality headset to the masses. One of the most striking elements of Microsoft’s promotion of its new ‘HoloLens’ device is how much it has focused on business uses. The device is more ‘augmented’ than ‘virtual, reality as it creates ‘holograms’ that appear on top of the real world in front of the wearer.
The business cases in question revolve around collaboration. Imagine working on a project with a colleague who is thousands of miles away but seems like they’re in the room. This will be especially important for sectors like engineering, architecture and construction where colleagues can ‘walk around’ designs before they’ve been built – from anywhere in the world.
You already use a lot of the technologies above, or you are at least aware of them. In the near future they will become integral to your work every single day. Make sure to familiarise yourself with each one to make sure you’re ready for the workplace of the future. Then you can start practising for the flying cars.