Five emerging trends likely to shape the workplace

Published on 13 Dec, 2019

Digital transformation is modifying our work environment gradually. With more sophisticated technologies and wider connectivity, workplaces as we know today will undergo a complete change in the coming decade. Needless to add, this cannot happen without a simultaneous shift in mind-set. The articles explores some key trends likely to usher in the revolutionary change.

Imagine a world with robotic assistants, voice-operated laptops or tablets and AI-controlled support staff. Compare this with the offices of the 80s, characterized by stacks of papers, pens, fans and huge steel cabinets. Technology has evolved at a rapid pace and modified our workplace. We have moved from papers to desktops, laptops and now smartphones. Enterprises across the globe have lapped up technological advancements to speed up efficiency and improve accessibility to employees.

Though aerial vehicles for daily commute remain a distant possibility, certain trends could change the face of corporate offices in the next decade.

  • Virtual workspace – The future of office is - no office. Commercial spaces and offices as we know will cease to exist. Today, employees across companies are armed with handheld devices, laptops, tablets and smartphones to name a few. Most businesses are shifting information and documentation to the cloud, facilitating access for employees to important details anytime, anywhere. With work no longer confined to the four walls of a building, soon companies may give up formal offices. Physical spaces may still be available for meetings and discussions, but only in rare cases. Virtual workspaces will also be environment-friendly, cutting out the need to commute.
  • HR online – At most companies, HR has gone online via a portal employees use for regular processes such as applying for leaves, filling in appraisals, accessing pay slips and tax sheets and even submitting resignation. This ensures seamless management of personal details. Given the pace of technological advancements, soon an employee’s entire lifecycle will be marked and present online. HR processes from recruitment to retirement will become more sophisticated. AI could be used for hiring. Employee details will be evaluated using AI to gauge their suitability for a specific role or profile. Hiring people with the correct aptitude will boost productivity, yielding better results. Besides this, technological upgrades are expected across HR functions and profiles.
  • Digital inside-out – ‘Smart work’ has replaced ‘hard work’ as the new mantra for professional success. Employees are increasingly inclined to spruce up their passion for work with the help of technology, resulting in efficient utilization of resources at lesser time and cost. Digital thinking will become inseparable from corporate culture.
  • Robotic process automation – Customer services are transitioning. With interactive voice response (IVR) and chatbots taking over, the need to manually answer calls has reduced drastically. In near future, most mundane tasks would be automated, eliminating administrative roles. While this may lead to loss of jobs, it will also give rise to new opportunities. The task force will have to increase their technical proficiency. The current workforce may need to unlearn what they have learned and upskill themselves.
  • Getting connected – 5G coverage is not far from us. It would give a significant boost to communication. Meetings will happen online, geographic location not posing a hindrance anymore in quick decision making. Speedy communication will also result in faster resolution of customer queries.

Digitalization is leading workplace transformation, which is being complemented by workforce transformation. The technological infrastructure is being upgraded to facilitate and sustain the adoption of innovative technologies. New-age employees are looking at flexibility, reward for creativity and constant upskilling. The need of the hour is to align technological developments with the vision and objectives of companies in a way that will ensure loyalty of employees.