Perhaps one of the biggest transformations taking place in the digital age are the ways in which we work and conduct business. The rapid adoption of technology, coupled with a new mindset of a younger, tech-savvy generation of workers, are having lasting impacts on workplace practices.
The intersection of consumer and business technologies
Employee preferences for a “consumer-like” model are redefining the ways we communicate, and get work done. As a result, new work styles and standards are emerging, infused by the rapid adoption of digital workplace applications. These apps are enabling employees to collaborate and communicate with greater mobility through different forms of input. Unified communications, voice-aware applications, team collaboration tools, and other next-gen technologies are creating a new baseline for workplace policies. The “app” generation composed of youth, ages 15-18 are poised to bring a new wave of tech disruption of their own, having grown up in a world where smartphones with on-tap, high-speed Internet access is the norm. This new reality will come fast as frontline workers become more critical to the workstream collaboration market. A Gartner study projects that “from 2019 to 2023, frontline workers’ use of workstream collaboration applications to drive teamwork and productivity will increase from 5% to 20%.”1
So, how do we adapt and prepare for the ever-expanding digital workplace?
The adoption of new technology often starts at home and in our personal lives. Amazon claims to have sold 100 million dots by January of 2019 and there are even more mobile devices that have Siri or Google Assistant pre-installed. Using natural voice as a digital interface instead of a keyboard and mouse is becoming a viable alternative in the workplace. This doesn’t just apply to translating voice to text. A growing number of applications now have voice commands for interfacing with other applications. Likewise, a number of these solutions have already emerged in the business world including voice interaction for scheduling and starting meetings, managing communications preferences, checking voicemail, and the list only continues to grow. Hands-free interfaces are an advantage for frontline and mobile workers who need to stay focused on the customers they serve and don’t typically have a keyboard and mouse within reach.
The acceleration of team collaboration
Another major workforce trend that was initially born as a consumer application is team collaboration. Gaming applications like Fortnite and Apex Legends were built on the concept of team-based environments in a digital space. Teams can communicate either through messaging or live audio and share everything from health points, weapons to ammo and information. Translate this to the work environment and now you know why team collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams are gaining traction as workplace hubs. Tight integration with unified communications solutions make these tools even better alternatives to email and other traditional methods. These advanced integrations enable multiple forms of communication, persistent conversations and information sharing within specific groups and project teams like never before.
The new era of team collaboration will require careful examination of security policies and accessibility; however the benefits are undeniable. These emerging capabilities make it easier for employees to interact and communicate based on preference, increase productivity and create higher levels of engagement among teams, regardless of where they are working from.
We can expect to see this trend of consumer preferences continue to drive the adoption of new technologies in the workplace. It will be exciting to see the evolution of work styles and the many advancements sure to come.
Scott Yelton is head of product management for OfficeSuite UC® at Windstream Enterprise, where he is responsible for management of growth and lifecycle for the company’s leading UCaaS solution. He has over 21 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. Prior to Windstream, Scott was the Director of Product Development and Strategy for both Earthlink and Deltacom, where he had also led sales Engineering. He began his career in telecom in sales and sales management roles for Sprint and BTI Communications. Scott is a graduate of Appalachian State University with a degree in marketing and management.
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