The first Industrial Revolution changed the way people worked forever. For the UK, this meant a shift from an agricultural economy towards a more urban one.
We are now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and are experiencing a new world of work, dominated by the introduction of exciting and innovative technology such as AI and Machine Learning. In this environment, creativity is seen as a skill innate to humans that can set us apart from machines, as it can enable us to make use of new technologies creatively or solve a problem in a new way. In fact, the World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that by 2020 employees will have to become more creative in order to thrive in the future workplace.
So, what can businesses do to ensure that they empower their employees to nurture this much-needed skill, and create a more engaged and satisfied workforce in the process?
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Naturally, in a digitally-driven world, technology comes as one of the potential answers to this question. Recent advancements in mobile software and hardware can empower each and every one of us to achieve more, break down siloes and work in a way that suits us and sparks our creativity.
By using both mobile hardware and cloud-based software, employees can work better together, regardless of whether they’re in the office, working from home, from a museum, or even on the train in between meetings.
Offering employees these types of mobile solutions means that they no longer need to feel chained at their desks and can tap into their creativity anytime, anywhere, removing siloes and unnecessary processes and ultimately increasing businesses' productivity. This is something that UK businesses need to capitalise on if they are to thrive in tomorrow’s world of work, particularly as the UK economy is built on a services sector, where the ability to solve problems in new and innovative ways is vital.
Despite this, our research looked at the views of more than 1,100 UK workers and found that outdated technology is amongst the top 10 barriers that prevent staff from being creative at work, with desktop PCs cited in the top five reasons why employees feel they can’t be creative. What’s more, there seems to be a lack of investment in innovation and creativity training within companies, as well as a lack of focus on providing workers with the tools they need that can spark their creativity.
Research from our partner, Steelcase, points to this worrying trend as well, showing that organisations are still leaning towards fixed technology solutions at a ratio of over 2:1. This is despite the fact that mobile technology can create a more engaged workforce by offering employees the freedom they need to be more creative and productive, as well as have a better work experience. In this case, it should come as no surprise that people do not work in flexible office spaces or in environments that encourage creativity or collaboration.
In order to promote creativity, companies need to foster the right environment where employees are given the space to think and process information and where they can alleviate stress. They should also equip their teams with modern and intuitive devices, as well as the right training that can boost people’s confidence when using these. What’s more, employees should feel encouraged to step away from their desks, and with mobile solutions this can be accomplished easier than ever before.
It's clear that the status quo needs to change. Only by offering their employees the right training and mobile technology at their fingertips will companies be able to foster a creative, satisfied and engaged workforce that is ready to tackle all the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and help the business compete on a global scale.
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Ryan Asdourian is the Surface BG Lead at Microsoft. He believes that the ability to have fun and grow yourself are the two most important aspects of any job. He is a great a passionate about technology.