The conversations and debates around the future of work all revolve around one common theme: how it will impact employees. While there is no denying that technology is an integral component of the future of work, it is not central to it - people are. Creating workplace technology that is complementary to the way employees live their lives is key to developing the workplace of the future.
Why We Should Be Asking Who is The Future of Work, Not What The Future of Work is
In order to develop workplace technologies, we must first understand today’s employees and the expectations they have for the modern office. By 2020, half of the U.S. workforce will be comprised of millennials and Generation Z, and their views on office life greatly differ from that of their predecessors. Over 74% of millennials feel that new technology makes their lives easier, compared to just 31% of Generation X and 18% of Baby Boomers. This disparity means that, while older generations did not mind using outdated legacy systems in the office, new generations expect more. Younger employees want office technology that is as convenient as the tools they use in their personal life. In fact, over half of employees believe they will be working in a smart office within the next five years.
Tech-speculations in the office
Mobile technology is central to the way current generations operate socially and at home, meaning that workplaces will need to incorporate mobile to improve the employee experience. 71 percent of time spent online in the U.S. happens on mobile devices, making it clear that future workforces will rely on their phones to do their jobs. The first generation to grow up with easy access to smartphones, Generation Z, is incredibly attached to their phones and the seemingly limitless potential they hold. This reliance on digital means Generation Z isn’t interested in working in offices where old systems don’t meet their mobile needs.
As the makeup of the workforce shifts from full-time to freelance and the gig economy continues to grow, mobile is critical to how we work. The future workforce will rely on their smartphones to do more than just answer email; a number of work functions and tools will need to be housed within our smartphones. Implementing technology that brings different aspects of the office to the smartphone will not only be second nature for younger generations who are used to relying on their phones but will also lead to an improved employee experience.
How IoT and Mobile are Making Smarter Workplaces
With a better understanding of our future workforce, companies can begin implementing technology designed to enhance productivity and the employee experience. There is no denying that humans are a business’s most valuable resource, and the future of work will be reliant on creating smart offices that use IoT technology to enhance employees’ potential. Creating a smart office where IoT supports and bolsters employees’ ability to do their jobs is necessary for a company’s continued success. Smarter use of office facilities enables employees to increase productivity, while also improving their experience at work. IoT can be added to an office in a number of ways to help simplify life for employees - even a front door can be equipped with IoT technology.
Smarter Facilities of Fuel Smarter Work
To create smarter interactions within a workplace, companies must rely on technology that is mobile-focused and forges connections at its core. When it comes to communication, there are boundless options available. One such platform is Slack. Slack’s ability to streamline communication and enable employees to improve connections all while increasing productivity is central to its success. While Slack and other smart communication platforms do a stellar job at making communication more efficient and fostering relationships between employees, they need to be complemented with technology that facilitates interaction with the physical office space.
An often overlooked component of the office experience is access. Productivity can increase if it’s easy for an employee, freelancer or visitor to seamlessly enter and move about an office. Companies typically use access control systems in the form of a key card to ensure that employees can safely enter their place of work. However, with nearly a quarter of Americans losing their keys twice a week, causing them to be late to work and resulting in companies losing $3 billion annually, these key card systems are working against productivity. Not to mention they don’t even begin to meet the security or tech expectations of the younger workforce.
To solve this access problem and enable smarter, more efficient interactions in the workplace, mobile access control solutions need to be introduced. Bringing mobile to access control also helps foster connections. The mobile nature of the technology makes it easier to integrate into other tools used around the office. For example, systems could be integrated with Slack to enable employees to easily send a mobile Guest Pass to a freelancer or consultant via Slack message.
While there may be some uncertainty about what the future of work will be, it is clear that the value employees provide in the workplace does not need to be diminished by the advent of new technology. Rather, this tech can be harnessed into the creation of smart offices to enhance productivity and create a better office experience for employees.
Co-Founder & President, Openpath
As the President of Openpath, James runs operations and leads marketing, public relations and partnerships for the company. A company on a mission to bring frictionless access and better security to our workplaces, Openpath provides mobile access solutions that enable users to open building doors with only an app on their smartphone. With an industry leading 94% mobile adoption rate, Openpath’s premier cloud-based platform ensures seamless, immediate entry with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity.
A serial entrepreneur, James has built and sold three successful technology companies (EdgeCast Networks, KnowledgeBase and Virtualis) over the past 17 years. While at Edgecast, a global content delivery network that sold to Verizon for $400M, James helped to build the company’s network to carry more than seven percent of global internet traffic. Prior to Edgecast, James built KnowledgeBase, a SaaS-based enterprise knowledge management company that was acquired by Talisma Corporation in 2005, into a profitable, industry-leading company that was ranked by Forrester as the Industry Leader in eService. James received the E&Y's 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year award for the greater Los Angeles area, is an investor and advisor to tech startups and VC/PE funds, and is active in various community and philanthropic organizations.