The rapid rise of the digital age has brought with it innumerable changes to our daily lives, not least of which being the revolutions in the way we conduct business. The advent of the smartphone, the ubiquitous presence of computers and sensors just about everywhere, and a triumphant digital culture have all completely remolded the modern office space.
For business owners and aspiring professionals who don’t want to be caught off-guard when they enter the workforce, it is worth taking some time to review the major ways that technology has upended our conception of the office. Here are the 4 major ways that tech is reshaping the office as we know it today, and what the future holds for our workspaces.
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Our living space is becoming our workspace
By far the biggest change brought about by the advent of digital technology is the fact that more people are working remotely now than ever before in history. Computers, smartphones, video-chat services and countless other digital developments have enabled us to work from the comfort of our living room sofas, with many workers finishing a day’s labor without ever having gotten out of their pajamas. One study found that at least 70% of people around the world work remotely at least once a week, a figure that would have been baffling just a decade ago but actually seems oddly low these days.
This is seriously upending our established norms when it comes to commerce. Business meetings that once saw workers congregate in a central conference room are now things of the past, with video-conferences being the new norm. Similarly, company managers and even business owners can pop up on the screens of regular employees to have a friendly chat or offer advice at just about any hour of the day.
It can be hard to determine who’s working
Not every digital development is positive. One of the biggest changes to how we work these days has been brought about by the advent of digital communications tools, like Slack, which is now relied upon in offices around the world. While Slack was once popular with journalists and writers, it’s now become a mainstay of workspaces in just about every industry. One unfortunate side-effect of Slack’s rapid proliferation is that it can be hard to determine who’s working and who’s just messing around.
Slack has claimed that it’s revolutionized workplace productivity, but there are reasons to believe that many everyday employees are simply slacking off whenever they’re using it. Business owners in the future will likely find themselves less-than-thrilled about the advent of some digital communications tools, especially if they keep allowing workers to stymie their own productivity.
Sensors are tracking our every move
The astonishing rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has unleashed a deluge of sensory technology around the world. Whether you’re trying to capture a video or audio recording, there’s likely a sensor that can do it effectively and cheaply while being no larger than the head of a pin. This has been great for many businesses because it’s enabled them to collect huge reams of data on their everyday workplace operations, such as an office space in New York, but there’s a significant downside to the ubiquitous nature of sensors in today’s workspaces.
Sensors are now being used to track the physical movements of employees, for instance. Even bathrooms aren’t off-limits when it comes to keeping an eye on what your workers are doing at every hour of the day. The managers and business owners of tomorrow will find themselves walking a tightrope as they try to balance between workplace privacy and the need to collect as much information as possible on their internal operations if they’re to remain competitive.
Drones will soon be offering in-office delivery
You’ve probably heard about drones that can deliver packages for huge companies like Amazon, and you may have even encountered autonomous vehicles packed with pizzas for hungry customers already. Today’s drone technology is still in its infancy, however, and the continued development of powerful drones will soon see in-office delivery at a scale hitherto undreamt of. Sooner rather than later, drones will likely be seen casually strolling into offices to deliver such trivial things as coffee to tired employees.
According to inventors at IBM, at least, drones may soon become so effective at delivering small, fragile objects like coffee cups that they may soon be buzzing overhead as we go about our daily responsibilities. While many people are more concerned about the types of robots and programs that may end up replacing them, the future isn’t entirely bleak when it comes to the ceaseless-advance of intelligent machines. Thanks to advancements in aerospace technology, in ML algorithms, and in the expertise of drone developers, the modern office space will soon be replete with as many digital workers as it is human ones.