Are our workplaces smart enough?

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Are our workplaces smart enough?

What do you want from technology in the workplace? Market research firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) recently interviewed 3,801 employees around the world about their technology expectations.

AI and automation are the big concerns

PSB found that respondents were expecting to be more mobile and to do less work face-to-face. They were also expecting to be more capable – using artificial intelligence to give them a boost – and more productive. However, they're worried about losing jobs to automation and AI.

It's not an unreasonable fear: McKinsey reported in 2017 that nearly half (49 per cent) of jobs across 800 occupations (from junior to C-suite) could be automated with existing or soon-to-be-introduced technology – some 1 billion jobs (and $15.8 trillion in wages).

Current tech is okay – but workers want more

Unsurprisingly perhaps – given what employees are picturing for the near future – employees are becoming dissatisfied with the technology in their current workplaces. They want their training enhanced with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and they think the Internet of Things (IoT) is exciting. More than 50% of them expect to be working in a smart office within the next five years.

This connects with Forbes' report that millennials see technology as a tool for personal growth, looking favourably on learning management systems (LMSes) and the organisations that provide them. They want businesses to be about more than just business – and they want to be provided with the tools and training they need to make a difference.

Fortunately, most respondents said their workplaces are smart enough (for now). Eight percent even think their office is "too smart". But 44% don’t think they work in a smart office, a number that will only grow if IT departments don’t keep pace with expectations. Millennials are the most likely to head for the door if the office isn’t smart, with 42% saying a dumb office would see them heading for the exit.

Time is precious – so don't waste it

The biggest time wasters at work are IT's fault, say employees:

• Slow or glitchy software (19%)

• Administrative tasks (19%)

• Slow or glitchy devices (17%)

They want what they have at home, please. A third of employees say their domestic tech is superior to what they're given in the office. The answer? Digital transformation, which can help organisations of all sizes and types to focus on the experiences they want to provide their customers and employees, and put in place the platforms and technology to seamlessly enable them.

Tools before toys

If you ask your employees to choose between high-tech perks such as AR/VR equipment and free food or games, more than half of them choose the tech over the hot dogs and table tennis.

Remote work is here to stay

Old-style managers worry whether remote workers are putting their feet up when out of site, but, such workers are the most committed to their jobs. "My job is a core part of my personal identity," said 72% of those who work remotely some of the time, compared to 59% of those who are office-bound. Another 59% of remote workers agreed with the statement "work is life," and 45% said work was key to their social life. In both cases, office-bound workers were less enthusiastic.

IT must deliver

Employees are excited, even if 29% of them think a robot will take their job, which is great for IT, but there will be penalties for organisations that can't keep up with employees' expectations of working in a smart office. They'll see employees looking for the exit—or their jetpack.

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