How the future workplace will look like?
The coronavirus pandemic has brought significant changes in the workplace and technology, which are expected to continue in the distant future.
Among the possible changes in the innovation in video communications, which will allow users to use “avatar” during group calls. It is estimated that with the development of artificial intelligence and technology, safety in the workplace will be immediately improved. Technology experts were asked to look into future data. These were eight of their predictions.
Work from home
There is a huge explosion of innovation that makes working from home even more efficient. A major disadvantage of video calling is that there is only one communication channel. We cannot have a second conversation with someone on another call. When we meet in a room together, up close, we can turn to our neighbor and chat. With current conference calls, space does not matter. In a Zoom call, we are alone, there is no one next to us. In future conference calls, our image will look like it is actually around a table. This way we will be able to speak directly to those who are close by, imitating what we used to live and in meetings in the past. The same will apply to the videos, allowing us to comment personally on specific people we want and not on each participant. It is not just a matter of improving technology. People need to get used to it. At first, we could not do the basics. We will now be able to use even more products. At home, office equipment will be designed to fit into our home life. So far most of the furniture and office equipment was black and metal, something that will change. Office equipment will be designed to blend in with home furniture — softer and with more natural materials.
Nicholas Bloom, Professor of Economics, Stanford University
The Madness of the Crowd
The image we had in our minds of work would change. Covid-19 will become endemic, like the advanced flu and we will learn to live with it. Apart from Covid, there will be fears about what will happen next. In the design of the workplace, we will need a balance between collaborative and private space. Before Covid, we had seen a trend towards open offices with a collaborative atmosphere. Now logically, we will see a reversal of this trend. Workplaces will be redesigned to reduce overcrowding and increase adaptability. Video conferencing rooms will allow physical and virtual employees to work together seamlessly. Employees will alternate schedules and work a few days from home and other days in the office. Greater emphasis will be placed on collaborative technology, allowing people to collaborate with anyone, anywhere, anytime. People will realize that they need to meet more often, but the meetings will be shorter and more spontaneous — five to fifteen minutes. Shorter meetings are made possible by greater use of virtual meeting and collaboration software, making it easier for people to move around in and out of meetings.
Mohanbir Sawhney, Digital Innovation Partner, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
Technology will be increasingly used to ensure the health and safety of workers. During the pandemic, technology helped control whether anyone had a fever or whether people kept their distance. In the future, some of the same types of imaging technology sensors that can help determine if employees are wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment or keeping their distance could also be used to alert employees, for example, when lifting heavy objects in a way that could cause them injuries. However, people’s privacy should be taken into account and how employees should be monitored.
Michael Chui, a fellow at McKinsey Global Institute, a research firm at the consulting firm McKinsey & Co.
Conferences and events have already been converted to virtual form. Most likely, after the vaccine, we will return to some living events, but some may retain their virtual element. But no technology provider offers a complete solution for large multi-session events. Such virtual events can sometimes be difficult to do online, as they require organizations to combine providers of webcasting, event planning, and analytics. An increase in relevant research has been observed. But there is no video conferencing providers that can offer the whole package and logically there will not be any soon. With the increasing use of video conferencing, office phones are already being phased out in an effort to save money. Companies are also likely to bring video conferencing equipment to smaller meeting rooms.
Christopher Trueman, lead analyst at Digital Applications in the Workplace, at Gartner Inc., global research and consulting firm.
Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace
The pace of adoption of artificial intelligence may accelerate after the pandemic. The disruption to business during the pandemic forced executives to rethink their business models. It is therefore natural for companies to want to integrate artificial intelligence into their operations. Automation solves some immediate problems for companies that are struggling to operate. Covid-based restrictions have increased the demand for contactless technologies as well as technologies that can offer workplace monitoring for health and safety reasons. The pandemic forced people to quickly get used to technologies they would not otherwise have become accustomed to so quickly. Even with teleworking, more data is generated, which is important for the further development of artificial intelligence technologies. Therefore, this increase in digital interaction caused by a pandemic could affect not only companies’ desire to use AI (Artificial Intelligence) technologies, but also the quality of data used to create and develop these technologies. Of course, there are also significant obstacles. Artificial intelligence in the workplace poses serious challenges related to privacy and how to incorporate these decisions. We are beginning to see a more careful approach to how companies will use the data. How the field will be shaped will probably have a big impact on the way these technologies are integrated into everyday life.
Prasanna Tambe, Associate Professor of Business, Information and Decision-Making at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School
The pandemic has sparked a new trend toward creating sustainable spaces, smart buildings, and energy management. The built-in environment affects most of our lives and accounts for 40% of total carbon emissions. Owners will need to ensure that their buildings meet health standards, and new measurements of sustainability need to be developed. These buildings will be the cornerstone of a redefined, responsible workplace strategy. We see a world where data and sensors will examine the temperature, air quality, and water quality. And artificial intelligence is what will facilitate the task.
Sanjay Rishi, CEO of Corporate Solutions in America at JLL Real Estate
Flat and Happy
The pandemic will level organizations. This is because there will be an acceleration of new ways of monitoring the performance of front-line workers, thus eliminating the need for other employees to supervise them. This is already happening. Organizations use online monitoring tools. There is software that can monitor the performance of people working online. Organizations will not need human supervisors, because technology will allow managers of organizations to see who is doing a good job. The result is increased personal responsibility but also reduced privacy for employees.
Darrell West, Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution’s Technology Innovation Center
A New Reality
Companies seek to enhance the corporate video conferencing learning experience. Virtual reality changes data. Although we know that it is a tool that is mainly related to gaming, virtual reality is now being used more widely. However, some of the issues that hinder its adoption tend to be social, not technological. This is because it is not yet fully understood and accessible to everyone. With any new technology, people are directly affected. But first, there is a period of adjustment. Users will not easily and quickly adopt all the new technologies due to their privacy concerns. It must be ensured that new technologies improve business life and productivity and that they are user-friendly. If something is difficult to use, the possibility of using it is at stake. The human element is as critical as technology.
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