What a productive workplace will look like in 2020

The future of business technology which include artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, will change the way we work, but how dramatically will it impact our workplace? Will we even have a productive workplace beyond our home in five to 10 years? Here, we discuss ever-evolving business technologies and what you can expect in your professional life in the not-too-distant future. 

Working with robots

The office is unlikely to have a horde of semi-sentient, bipedal machines typing away on laptops and taking back-to-back meetings. However, employees will have to become more accustomed to working with iPads on Segways. Take a look at how Double Robotics is trailblazing a path towards robot integration in the workplace.

As the Internet of Things becomes more prominent, companies will begin collecting an overwhelming amount of data, which will need to be turned into something usable. That’s where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in. AI will be a major feature in the workplace of the future. 

However, artificial intelligence isn’t without its problems, and those problems tend to escalate in severity as robots take on more responsibility. Software bugs are nothing more than a fixable nuisance in the hands of human developers. However, if an undiscovered bug were to affect a decision-making, naive robot – and say that robot was driving a truck on a busy highway – then the consequences of glitches would be much higher.

Mobility and frictionless working

Mobile and flexible working are already integral to many occupations, from the sales and marketing execs using tablets on the road to the HR managers checking their emails on the train home. The adoption of activity-based working (ABW) is set to eliminate the idea of the office existing in a fixed location, enabling team members to work wherever their projects and priorities take them. This ‘frictionless’ style of working has been shown to result in better collaboration and employee satisfaction. Employees can also use their own devices to link up to cloud services, making them even more mobile.

However, with devices becoming more pervasive and their data more widely available, what kind of security issues are we opening ourselves up to? Unfortunately, more devices accessing sensitive business information means the employee might become entirely responsible for what kind of data escapes. A security breach on an employee’s laptop can have serious consequences for their organisation. For example, a staff member forgetting to log out of their laptop could lead to competitors having access to the company’s stored data.

More time to enjoy “blife”

In a study of global workforces, more than 70 per cent of Australian businesses reported greater productivity as a direct result of flexible working. With more opportunities to complete work from remote locations, employees can look forward to more cocktails by the beach as they overcome business problems. Some have coined working on holiday as “bleisure”. In general, people’s quality of life should improve as more organisations come to realise that they can get greater productivity from their workers away from the office.

Wearables and the Internet of Things

Intelligent, network-connected wearables will potentially allow us to take frictionless working even further. Smart glasses, for example, might end up replacing PCs, tablets and even smartphones by packaging voice recognition and display capabilities – along with data connectivity – into one lightweight device.

The Internet of Things – the increasing trend of everyday devices being connected to the internet – is poised to shake up the workplace even more. By 2020, we can expect such devices to be influencing our workday from start to finish. One example might be sensors in your office’s car park that tell your smartphone where the nearest free space is; another is a climate-control system that detects where people are sitting so nobody has to suffer being slowly turned into an icicle under an air-conditioning vent.

The human-friendly workplace

As human beings, we will always crave personal interaction, so it’s unlikely our workspaces will become 100 per cent remote and virtual anytime soon. Many employers are already waking up to the benefits of replacing cubicle farms with more casual workspaces that help reduce stress and cultivate creativity.

Ultimately, it is the employee who will benefit most from the workplace of the future. While the office will often be more productive, technology and multiple access points to office information mean employees can also succeed in their roles away from it, enabling them to live more fulfilling lives.