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October 26, 2017

The future is here: preparing businesses for next generation working

Futuristic technologies are fast becoming a reality - how should your business prepare?

By Ellie Burns

When talking about the future of business, too often conversations remain focused on the physical office and what specific technologies will replace legacy systems. However, the fourth industrial revolution will see work transcend these four walls and there will be an unprecedented adoption of tech such as VR and virtual assistants. That isn’t just our opinion, it’s a position discovered in recent research into the workforce of 2025.

The new generation of employees entering the workforce is already creating challenges for traditional organisations. Digitally skilled workers are in high demand but are incredibly selective about where they work. They are looking for employers that offer innovative technology and flexible working practices.

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These workers are also increasingly using their own tools to improve their productivity – we are moving from BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to BYOA (Bring Your Own Application) and the increase in browser based apps has put even greater demands on business networks.

The employee of the future is also not time-bound, and the globalisation of the workforce means organisations need to connect remote staff in different locations to cater to the output based rather than time based worker of the future.

So what effect is this having on the market? Recently, we surveyed British businesses and found that 42 percent of respondents believe that evolving work routines will see the end of the nine-to-five working culture. A further 33 percent also believe that the Monday through Friday working week will become redundant as people receive greater flexibility.

The needle is moving in terms of working practices and businesses need to think of ways to meet the specific needs of the business as well as get the most out of each employee, who may work in very different ways.

This is pressing since our survey has found that now only 3 percent of employees would describe their workplace as leading edge. Where once Britain was a beacon of innovation, now hi-spec computers, super-fast, reliable internet connectivity and cloud collaboration tools are still beyond the reach of many workers.

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At home, employees benefit from gigabit speed connectivity, but at work they are being frustrated by a slow connection and outdated devices. This is preventing employees from working in the ways they are most comfortable with and inhibiting their productivity.

However, not all businesses are ignorant to this fact, demonstrated by 56 percent of decision makers saying they think that the ability to work from anywhere would improve working practices. Another 55 percent said they will prioritise enabling employees to work from anywhere, safely and securely, over the next decade. To realise this, organisations can already benefit from cloud and unified communications tools which help employees collaborate in real-time from anywhere.

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Of course, the future of work will also benefit from advancements in machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Despite scepticism over AI replacing workers, our consumer survey paints a happier picture, since over a quarter of workers believe that AI and automation will impact their job positively.

A significant proportion of businesses are already looking forward to the benefits of AI, with around 1 in 5 businesses prioritising investment in machine learning and artificial intelligence over the next 10 years.

New technologies will continue to enter the workplace and the definition of the working week will continue to shift and change, but businesses need to innovate now to deliver the productivity gains of the future.

This makes for an exciting time for businesses everywhere as they’ll learn to leverage technology in unprecedented ways, unleashing productivity and creating truly innovative workforces. Tomorrow’s workforce will be more empowered and demanding than ever, and the technology we invest in today will help enable that.

Business leaders should now be prepared to embrace faster connectivity, cloud computing and even futuristic technologies such as machine learning and virtual reality to create a more cutting edge workforce.

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