By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
Workplace technology is on an exponential curve. It wasn’t long ago we used fax machines and interoffice mail to work—now, even email seems outmoded. The impact of technology in the workplace is substantial and it’s changing everything from how we work to what tools we use to do our jobs.
The breadth of workplace technologies available to us today take two forms: workplace facing and workplace supporting. Technologies like messaging apps and room booking software are workplace facing: they’re the tools employees use to do work. Occupancy sensors and Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) represent workplace supporting tech—they govern the workplace construct, both physical and digital. Together, they represent the technologically powered environment that is the modern workplace.
Why do we need all this tech? A salesperson or accountant might have the same job description today they did decades ago, but what that work entails is so much more. The sophisticated evolution of work comes on the heels of workplace technology growth.
Improved interpersonal communication
How has technology changed the modern workplace? The simplest example to look at is interpersonal communication. Over time we’ve not only sped up the rate at which we communicate, but the scope of that communication. This is evident even as recent as the shift from email to messaging apps.
Jim needs to ask Sally a question about a project. He could send an email, since Sally is off-site today—or, he can message her through Slack. Through Slack, she gets the notification immediately and can reply in seconds. Jim’s question sits in the #project channel instead of buried in an inbox, and there’s a historical record of their conversation instead of a growing email chain. Jim gets his answer fast, and the two stay on the same page.
Examples like this are just the beginning. Messaging apps integrate with various other cloud apps, which puts communication front and center at all times. Employees can leave notes in a collaborative file or send a thumbs-up emoji to sign off on a memo. Thanks to modern interpersonal communication tech, employees communicate clearly and more often, with better results.
Quicker, better communication has spilled over into other areas of workplace transformation. One of the most notable positive effects of technology in the workplace is quicker workflows. It’s not only communication technology behind this agility—it also involves workplace planning and coordination software.
IWMS and Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) platforms quicken workplace management. It no longer takes days or weeks to repurpose a workspace or change the dynamic of an office. Facility managers can adapt the workplace in minutes to shave hours or even days off of project timelines and tasks. Moreover, there are fewer barriers and overlaps between employees.
Bob and John don’t need to wait for Michelle and Patricia to finish using a meeting space—they can find (or make) an alternative space in seconds. Steve can look at his calendar for the day, pop online, and reserve the right workspace.
Workplace tech simplifies the complexities of an agile environment, so employees can do more, faster. Work gets done quicker, better.
Broad asset accessibility
The business cloud is arguably the most important workplace technology of the last two decades. Not since the personal workplace computer has business changed so dramatically. Think about what the cloud offers: broad access to any digital assets, anytime, anywhere. This level of accessibility is so ingrained in what we do, we often take it for granted.
Mike saves his PowerPoint presentation at his desk on the fourth floor, then pulls it up from the cloud for his meeting on the ninth floor a few minutes later. Lily accesses the entire folder of digital project assets from her home office, to make last-minute adjustments before the big rollout.
As much as the business cloud has changed the traditional workplace, it’s also the biggest catalyst for antiquating it. This level of accessibility allows people to work from anywhere. In fact, this tech is still growing more powerful today through innovations in edge computing and decentralized server networks.
More productive environments
Finally, we need to ask: how does technology affect productivity? If it’s not evident already, technology has been the biggest catalyst for improving our efficiency and productivity. Try to do your job without a computer or email. Without messaging apps or cloud storage. Without the ability to reserve a workspace or contribute to a shared document. It’s likely impossible to work without technology in today’s climate. Even if you could manage it, you’d be light years behind.
Technology touches every aspect of work—how, where, and even when we accomplish it. The result of ever-increasing technological advancements is evident in everything from how we communicate to the scope of our work we do on a daily basis.
Above all, the impact of technology in the workplace shows the profound flexibility of work habits. Thanks to workplace technologies, we’re ever-moving, always communicating, and consistently accomplishing, no matter where we are or what we’re doing.
Keep reading: Benefits of Technology in the Workplace.