What’s next for the future of work?

What’s next for the future of work?
(Image credit: Pixabay)

We are currently experiencing a fundamental transformation in the way we work. The pace of this change is expected to accelerate rapidly, bringing with it momentous challenges and opportunities for both organisations and talent. From AI-powered assistants to automated work management tools, we now have an array of technologies at our fingertips to help us thrive in an increasingly dynamic work environment. In other words, these tech innovations are allowing us to work smarter and not harder. 

With this in mind, these tech execs share their predictions on the technologies set to transform the future of work as we know it over the coming year.

Robbie O'Connor, Head of EMEA, Asana

This year, more and more businesses are embracing new technology and ways to increase productivity. However, according to Asana’s Anatomy of Work Index, workers are spending 60% of their time at work doing avoidable tasks like searching for information or sharing updates on work - something we call ‘work about work’. Next year, businesses need to focus in on the work that is happening in their organisations to ensure that employees are spending time on the work that matters, and that the tools they are using, help them to achieve it. We predict that more companies will move away from outdated systems like email and spreadsheets, to tools that aid teamwork and greater transparency. 

Another challenge that many workplaces are now facing, is the duplication of work, with our study revealing UK workers spend a whole month a year (30 days) doing work that a colleague has already completed. Therefore, in 2020 - at the turn of a new decade - we’ll see more businesses turning their attention to automation and AI in the workplace.  The UK currently falls behind its international competitors when it comes to the adoption of automation in the workplace, but we predict that rather than automation ‘taking our jobs’, it’s going to be the ‘making’ of our jobs. Its adoption is vital for staff retention and engagement, helping to remove invaluable and repetitive tasks from the working day and giving people time back to focus on the work they were hired to do. 

Stuart Templeton, Head of UK, Slack

Next year, we will see an even greater transformation when it comes to work and the workplace. Yet, despite these transformations, the critical discipline of collaboration - the ways in which we work together to get things done - is hampered in many organisations as a result of email being used as the primary source of communication and information. To succeed, enterprises need to take time to reflect and most importantly, need to acknowledge that there's an even better way to work together than email. This "aha" moment will come for even more organisations next year.

Enterprises need to change with the times. With a vast range of business apps and remote working now being available at everyone's fingertips, email will become an even greater obstruction for teams as it creates silos and fragments information. So, moving away from this traditional mode of communication will be crucial for businesses to win.

Enterprises must deviate from the "tradition" of email and look towards the future to a flexible and scalable structure that will allow coordination and alignment. Only then will they gain a competitive edge in this new world of work. Moreover, they need to worry less about the cheapest tool on the market, but more about what provides the best business performance.

Vinay Ramani, Chief Product Officer, Pipedrive

Currently, large software-developers are selling their enterprise software to big companies or corporations, such as FTSE 100 and the Fortune 500. These solutions are usually highly customised to the needs of each customer, making them time-consuming to develop and expensive. In recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of transformation technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, which have brought on the democratisation of enterprise software. 

Once reserved for large conglomerates and international corporations, enterprise-software has become more accessible to a wide range of customers in 2019 as it has become simpler, more visual, more user-friendly and cheaper to use. In 2020, we expect that enterprise software will soon reach the SMB-level allowing them to enjoy the benefits of highly-personalised software: increased efficiencies, reduced costs and improved workflow. With AI and ML, even smaller companies can use software and personalise it accordingly; the complex, highly individualised and correspondingly expensive solutions of enterprise software developers are no longer necessary.

Peter Arvai, co-founder and CEO, Prezi

The way we communicate at work is changing: recent research found that 71% of UK office workers are either presenting, watching or creating video to help in effective communication at work. In the year ahead, we’re likely to see this prevalence grow;  businesses are continuing to expand globally, and the way in which all businesses communicate and interact will need to modernise as workforces and their culture evolve. 

However, it is important to remember that even though focus moves largely to digital tools in the overarching concept of the ‘future of work’, the need for human connection remains strong. So much so, that two thirds of respondents from the same study called it ‘vital’ to effective communication. 

So, with this in mind, new technology must be adopted so that internal and external business communications can be improved, even when video is already present. Tools that offer engaging visuals, immersive experiences and seamless integrations with other platforms will be key in the next twelve months and thereafter.

Like all years before it, in 2020 businesses will need to keep up with the times when it comes to providing a deeper connection for their workforces through innovative video technology. The benefits of remote workers and cross country teams are easily balanced with the challenges of keeping employees engaged. New technology must be adopted so that internal and external business communications can be evolved by giving impactful visuals. Video communications tools will help businesses keep their most important asset engaged - the talent.”

Liron Smadja, Local Marketing Director, Fiverr

We predict 2020 will be the biggest year yet for UK freelancers. Already 4.4m people consider themselves to be solo self employed - we expect that number to reach five million in the next 12 months. There are a number of factors driving this - but primarily we believe people are starting to realise that freelancing is the fairest way to work. With men and women getting paid the same for similar tasks, the gender pay gap that still exists in so many workplaces is effectively removed. 

In fact, our research suggests that globally, digital freelancer platforms allow women to earn a higher average wage per job than men.

Carl Standertskjold, European Corporate Segment Marketing Manager, Sony Professional Solutions Europe

The future of work will undoubtedly be led by technology. With the focus on enhancing the user experience, smart spaces and connected devices are being developed to support collaboration across internal teams and with external stakeholders. However, the current AV technology landscape has become so vast, that creating a meaningful environment that resonates with a business and its workers is increasingly challenging. 

Alongside meaningful improvements in well-designed workplace environments, we are already starting to see many projects looking for more bespoke solutions; and automation is central to this. Automation and connectivity are at the core of any workplace UX. Through the integration of projectors, meeting rooms, displays and booking systems, a workplace can be transformed into an office that works for the employees rather than against them. The impact over the next 10 years will be driven by increased efficiency and productivity as a result of improved physical and digital UX integration.

Alan Jacobson, Chief Data & Analytic Officer, Alteryx

2020 will be marked as the year that data finally became democratised. The movement of analytics away from a data science team and towards being fully saturated throughout the entire business will finally boil over after simmering for the past few years. This self-service revolution will change how organisations interact with their data, bridging the gap between people with business knowledge and people with data knowledge.

Enabled by easy to use APIs and the union of a large range of data sources, once adopted, self-service analytics will allow for one of the important stages of digital transformation - data integration. The typical data worker is beginning to move away from the IT domain and into the domain of business, resulting in a larger volume of workers conducting data tasks. The result of which will be more data being processed, a higher quantity of analyses, and ultimately a larger positive impact on the business.