The market fluctuates, job positions change, and business strategies are altered, but one constant in business is the use of technology in the workplace. As technology continues to advance, digital solutions have played a critical role in determining how businesses progress.
Once technology entered the workplace there was no going back. Wi-Fi became necessary, cloud systems provided an easy way for employees to share and view digital documents, and smartphones allow for easier communication among coworkers, clients, and suppliers. Today we look toward automation and finding more ways to create a productive virtual work environment.
Technology in the workplace eventually began to define business operations and even influence consumer desires and behaviors. Businesses strive to stay on top of what customers are looking for and learn how to make their operations more efficient which is where automation technology and artificial intelligence (AI) learning give businesses a competitive edge. Businesses will rely more and more on technology in the workplace, even if that workplace is virtual.
Brief History of Technology in the Workplace
In the 1980s, technology in the workplace started becoming common with the introduction of personal work computers, laptops, and the world’s first cell phone. Suddenly, there were new avenues for businesses to explore thanks to technology.
In the 1990s came the internet. The internet came around in 1989, but in the 90s we started seeing it being used more frequently in the work environment. With the internet, businesses could better communicate to their clients or suppliers and it also allowed them to expand their clientele through the use of emails, websites, and e-commerce stores.
In the 2000s, the cloud was introduced and became the new technology in the workplace. Businesses began digitizing their data and uploading it to a secure cloud for simple storage, organization, and file sharing. Smartphones also became part of the norm which gave businesses opportunities to reach their consumers in more unique ways.
In the 2010s, technology was completely integrated into the workplace. Some companies already implemented a solution for employees who worked from home or spent a lot of time traveling.
At this time, we were introduced to the Internet of Things (IoT). We started seeing IoT devices that connected to just about anything from motion sensors to speakers. It became common to implement software integrations that helped to streamline workflows or hardware integrations that could connect to other devices. As everything became more connected, the possibilities began growing.
Today’s Technology in the Workplace
While technology in the workplace was already growing, the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to shoot ahead with their digital solutions. With lockdown initiatives and people choosing to stay at home to stay safe, it became a requirement to have specific digital solutions in place to ensure that productivity remained the same and workflows were unhindered while people worked remotely.
According to a McKinsey Global Survey, 93% of companies shifted to remote work during the pandemic and 34% reported migrating assets to the cloud more quickly. There's no denying that the pandemic pushed digital transformation forward quickly.
At this point, technology is essential to create an effective and smart work environment for employees, especially in companies that continue to have employees working fully remote or working in a hybrid environment.
Today, technology revolves around the ability to work from a distance or to automate tedious and repetitive tasks to cut down on costs and make operations more efficient. Companies are now relying on platforms and software to help streamline workflows and allow employees to easily collaborate. Many are digitizing document files to ensure that employees, no matter their location, can access certain documents in a cloud.
Companies are also providing more online support for their consumers as the expectation of connectivity grows. Companies are ensuring that a service, whether it's an e-commerce site or a solution, would work just as well on a desktop as it would on a mobile device. These tools have become a critical aspect of business operations, and digital transformation has become a priority for many businesses to remain competitive.
If we look ahead, we can expect to see further automation and technology in the workplace. Over 50% of workers believe that technology will determine changes in the workplace within the next 5 to 10 years. In a sense, we're already seeing this as many companies that are embracing digital transformation have required a digital security team specifically in place, thus creating new jobs.
Around 70% of employees feel good about increasing automation and technology in the workplace stating it will increase their productivity and free up their time to work on less repetitive tasks and more creative ones.
It's not news that technology in the workplace has the capability of increasing creativity and productivity. In 2019, before the pandemic, employees who worked in an environment that supplied automation and technology were 31% more productive.
Benefits of Technology in the Workplace
Technology in the workplace benefits companies, employees, and consumers. With the use of automation and helpful software, organizations have been able to increase their efficiency quickly, especially with automation. Many tasks that were once time-consuming to complete manually can be done rapidly and accurately using an automated system. As we mentioned before, this allows employees more time to focus on more strategic and creative aspects of their position rather than spending time on tedious tasks.
While many people have touted fears about technology reducing jobs, AI is expected to create 97 million new jobs by 2025. The implementation of AI will by itself create positions that we haven't needed before. As an example, when cloud systems and software were first introduced to companies, there became a need for IT and digital security teams. As more technology in the workplace is introduced, we’ll begin to see more positions open.
Any company that had to or continues to operate remotely or on a hybrid system understands the importance of technology in the workplace. Even for companies that require on-site workers, technology in the workplace still benefits them. Not only can automation technology remove tedious tasks and perform them more accurately and more quickly, but many different platforms and software systems allow employees to better collaborate, create workflows, and streamline operations.
As technology advances, companies are also finding more ways to connect with their consumers through various devices and platforms. Through social media, mobile apps, and e-commerce stores, companies can easily reach their customers and provide online services and products.
Challenges of Technology in the Workplace
Technology brings many benefits into the workplace, but it also comes with challenges that businesses need to face. One such challenge includes making sure employees are appropriately trained in any technology that’s being used. While companies may push forward to implement digital solutions, in their haste, they may forget the proper training and security that is involved with any technology. Technology must be introduced at a steady pace to ensure guidelines are made and appropriate training takes place.
Another challenge with technology is prioritizing security, including antivirus software, VPNs, and passwords. Businesses require effective tools and good organizational skills to ensure that secure information remains safe. A security breach can lead to important data being lost, consumer trust declining, and time being spent fixing anything that went down during the breach.
As more companies implement technology, workers experience benefits but also challenges, particularly with having a healthy work-life balance. It's more difficult for employees to unplug when they can carry their work with them on their phones. Many employees will still respond to emails past work hours. Employees may receive notifications from emails or chats that can distract them when they're focusing on a particular task. Encouraging a healthy work-life balance and implementing a system that allows employees to unplug while they focus on a specific task may be very useful and help employees remain productive.
Technology in the workplace is not new. With the start of floppy disks and personal laptops, technology in the workplace has become an ever-present constant in today's work environment. Just like everything else in business, it will continue to evolve but instead of taking a back seat and playing a supporting role as it did in the past, technology is being pushed further and further to the forefront to where business operations are now relying on and expecting improvements in technology to run more efficiently.
Digital transformation is more important now than ever. It's expected that by 2025 companies will invest around 2.8 trillion in digital transformation. Business process outsourcing (BPO) and business process automation (BPA) providers such as Exela, help companies take steps to further their digital transformation. Finding digital solutions can be daunting and relying on a BPA provider can help to better implement technology in the workplace.
View Exela case studies that show the many benefits companies experienced with digital transformation.