It’s no shock to hear that mobile technology has dramatically changed the way we operate in our personal and professional lives. As smartphones and tablets grow in popularity and more companies migrate toward virtual desks, the workstation of 2020 might not have much in common with the cubicles of 2012.
A recent article on TODAYonline highlighted some of the drastic changes occurring in the workplace – especially in Asia. These trends will no doubt head west in the coming years, transforming the way we all do business.
Here’s an overview of some of the major shifts:
1. Mobile Devices
The proliferation of smartphones and tablets means that more and more employees are bringing their own mobile devices to work and expecting to be able to connect to a corporate network. This trend further blurs the line between the professional and personal lives of employees and could change how much technology a company needs to make available to employees. And, as discussed below, these mobile devices have decreased the need for traditional workspaces.
2. Live Video
No longer just a tool for conferencing and training, live video is being implemented everywhere from remote health care and banking to interviewing and troubleshooting in manufacturing. This could spell less travel for both employees and clients alike and could spark the demise of traditional offices down the road.
3. Virtual Offices
More companies are migrating functions that would normally be found an employee’s desktop to the Cloud. The availability of company-specific software on a remote central server means that employees are no longer tied to a PC to do their job — any Web-connected device can be used for business. The demand for virtual hosted desktops will top 49 million units in 2013, according to Gartner, a market research company (compared with more than 500,000 units in 2009). TODAYonline predicts that desktops will be less cluttered as companies become less reliant on PCs to handle daily tasks and that IT departments will be called on to support an increased variety of devices and applications.
4. Smaller Offices
An article from the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) said that technology is changing the demand for workspace. Now that more employees are able to telecommute all or at least part of the time, there’s less demand for office space. As a result, owners of commercial real estate are now focused more on offering extra amenities to companies, rather than extra space. Of course, for certain industries, telecommuting isn’t practical. Research-based jobs generally require a collaborative environment and firms that deal with classified or sensitive information (like the government) would also not be eager to jump on the telecommuting trend.
5. Fewer Assistants
REIT also noted that technology has made it more efficient for employees to handle more tasks. As a result, fewer employees are hiring assistants, especially among the younger generation.
6. Shared Workspace
As mobile technology and the desire to create more collaborative work environments has diminished the need for bulky cubicles (who needs a home for that giant PC anymore?), more companies are resorting to open floor plans. This means less privacy and personal space for employees, but more informal gathering spots for impromptu meetings.