Get ready. Set. Go: Level up your future workplace

A person working on a laptop.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Digital transformation, business transformation and now cloud transformation. Organizations across the globe have been caught in a plethora of technological and transformational initiatives that propelled their businesses to success. We live in a digital world and businesses need to ensure their work models reflect this. Being digital-first shouldn’t be confined to a specific department or sector, it should be woven throughout the entire organization, ensuring employees are empowered to work. For technology and business leaders, one of the biggest questions is what tools and services are critical for supporting workers today and beyond.

Despite more than 100 companies in the UK implementing four-day working weeks since the COVID pandemic, the reality of this sticking on a global level isn’t promising. Yes, there is inevitable pushback from some monolithic organizations, but the new digital workspaces have proved to be both popular with employees and to increase business agility for the companies that operate them. The challenge is to keep up with their development and ensure they continue to strengthen with each introduction of new technologies continues.

Why do they have to go make things so complicated?

For employers, the picture is complicated. Regardless of whether your employees continue working from home, return to the office, or make a choice that lies somewhere in between, they must be able to work securely and collaboratively no matter where they are.

The key is adaptability. Employers need to recognize advantageous new technology and embrace it rapidly rather than trying to stay rooted in old workflows and methodologies. The old age ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ no longer applies, as new technology provides an acceleration in efficiencies and notable business advantages to those that adopt them.

The tech workforce is also getting younger and more tech-savvy, and they are expected to make up over a quarter of the workforce by 2025. And how do you appeal to the next generation of workers? The answer lies in flexibility. Flexibility enables employees to achieve a great work-life balance - this is something leaders will need to pay attention to if they want to retain current talent and attract future employees. Appealing to this generation is extremely important as they are generally tech natives, with GenZ-ers practically being born with a smartphone in their hands. In 2023, most jobs like Coders, App Developers and DevOps Engineers are more likely to be filled by digital natives who often have an implicit understanding of how to leverage emerging technologies in ways that older generations do not.

This gives GenZ-ers highly in-demand skill sets—but it is important to remember that many of them have started their professional careers during the covid era. Meaning they are not only tech- but they are also remote-work natives. They aren’t willing to compromise on this. A modern workspace that allows for hybrid working practices and promotes collaboration is a key tool and critical feature to help drive talent attraction and retention.

Paul Wooldridge

Paul Wooldridge is Digital Workplace Customer Service Lead at SoftwareONE.

Technology impacting the digital workplace of the future

The modern digital workspace is all about connectivity. All data needs to be accessed securely from all locations and at all times. Cloud-based systems are set up to enable this to happen. They bring other advantages as well, such as the ability to rapidly scale up or down, but the fundamental basis of being able to access and manipulate data wherever an employee might be is the core of their appeal. With numerous connectivity apps such as Microsoft Teams or Slack providing video or text-based always-on communication, they enable geography to no longer be a barrier to a whole range of organizations.

This connectivity is going to enable new ways to communicate in the future. We’re in the early stages of Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR respectively) having an impact on the business realm. Fully virtual environments are a way off as of yet, but AR is a near future technology and will extend our screen real estate to show more information and enhance collaboration with remote colleagues, provide virtual keyboards on any surface, and more.

Digital Voice Control is also growing in sophistication almost by the day and is becoming ingrained in more and more products. Voice provides a dramatic boost to productivity when it is achieved accurately and reliably, and the sophistication of the responses and capabilities of the Digital Assistants it enables is about to take a generational leap. The disruptive impact of ChatGPT, the AI-powered chatbot developed by research company OpenAI, shows that such assistance can provide detailed, natural responses to a huge range of queries and will allow employees to automate a wide range of tasks once integrated with established business systems.

Just go with the flow

The new hybrid working environments mean that employers can no longer hold back the tide of new technology. The castle-and-moat network security model no longer works, nor does the attitude of maintaining similar defenses against the encroachment of newly capable devices. Employees are less likely to tolerate strict control of their technology as work and personal spaces increasingly overlap and, with the war on talent ongoing, are likely to vote with their feet if they feel constrained or disadvantaged by outmoded workflows and practices.

Savvy employers, therefore, need to listen and consult; to let go of the restrictive incremental model of introducing new technology into the workplace and lay the foundations for an agile environment where new tech and its capabilities can be rapidly and safely introduced. The security framework for the new digital workspaces that are emerging is challenging, but the workplace that results can meet business needs at the same ever-accelerating speed with which the technology is growing.

We've featured the best WFH apps.

Paul Wooldridge is Digital Workplace Customer Service Lead at SoftwareONE.