How Future Trends in Technology Will Affect the Workplace

It’s no secret that new technology is currently taking the world by storm; and it is set to absolutely rock the workplace in the next few years. Experts have predicted that the job market will begin to pick up speed before 2020, with workplaces in the next decade being nearly unrecognisable from today’s. Unsurprisingly, many people are debating about whether there will be enough jobs for everybody.

It is a fact that the number of roles for office, administrative, manufacturing and production jobs will decline over the next four years. Some people predict that around 6 million roles will be lost. However, business and financial roles along with computing and mathematical roles are expected to rise in numbers.

Humans won’t necessarily be out of jobs – but they may find themselves doing very different professions. It is predicted that 65% of children under the age of 11 today will be working jobs that aren’t even created yet. That’s not necessarily a bad thing however, as computers are set to take over many of the mundane tasks that humans currently do at work.

The Automation of Jobs

More and more jobs are beginning to be automated – for example, self-scan machines have significantly increased in popularity in supermarkets all over the country, and as soon as driverless cars are commonplace, taxi and lorry drivers could be out of jobs. It is estimated that robots could replace 40 – 75 million roles by 2025.

This all seems very scary, and there will definitely be groups of people who are losing out.

The jobs that are most likely to lose out due to AI are:
• Retail assistants
• Customer services
• Finance admin
• Elementary storage

Location wise, people from the north and midlands are most likely to lose their jobs to robots, whereas places like London, Oxford and Cambridge (typically home to positions which require more specific and higher skills) could possibly lose up to 15% of their jobs. It’s not just manual labourers that are set to have a change with their role – people with office jobs are at risk too. For examples, office tools like Grammarly are overriding the need for professional editors. Even lawyers might not be safe – nowadays, people can even use a robot lawyer for basic legal advice.

There are many arguments stating that robots and artificial intelligence will create jobs as well as taking them away, but it is undeniable that they will have a significant impact on some careers. However, people who are pro-AI state that robots will be taking over boring, automated jobs, leaving the human brain free to do the more important roles.

Jobs that could benefit from AI include:

• Education
• Science research and medical
• Accommodation and food services
• Communications
• Arts industries

As these jobs are all creative-based or require a very comprehensive skillset, which robots and AI cannot duplicate (yet!). Instead, technology will be used to help in the workplace, rather than take over. Using robots will enable more time for the human brain to spend on creative projects and developing industries, opening the possibility for new staff.

Furthermore, the internet itself innately creates new jobs for people. Nearly anyone can purchase web space nowadays and make money through collaborating with brands, working with affiliate networks or hosting ads. Many people working in this industry are self-employed and often work completely alone in a range of places. For them, the workplace could be their home, a co-working space or even a coffee shop.

The Commodifying of Jobs

Some creative jobs are commodified, and while they are not completely taken over by robots and technology, the commodification makes the process easy for unskilled people to do the same jobs. Companies like Wix and Canva are great examples of this.

Wix is a website development software that makes it easy for anyone to build a website. While there are some limits to its scope at the moment, meaning that many professionals still favour traditional web designers, it may expand and develop in the next few years. This is a crucial example of how technology will change the future of work, as highly skilled people may find their roles redundant.

Canva is a graphic design software. User-accessible templates make it easy for anyone to design graphics, potentially putting professional graphic designers out of a job – or at least devaluing their work. Companies are unlikely to pay an external professional to create graphics for them when someone in-house can do it as part of their job.

Similarly, companies like Uber and Airbnb provide jobs – or at least extra income – for anyone with a car or a spare room. While these are great ways for earning money, they do affect traditional home renters or taxi drivers. There are also safety concerns about letting ‘just anyone’ drive your taxi or rent you a room. This has led to actions like the banning of Uber in London and threatening eviction to Berliners who rent on Airbnb.

Technology trends have made these services easily accessible – but are they ethical? This evolving technological situation could put more highly skilled people out of jobs.

Remote Working

A few years ago, nobody really knew what remote working was. Nowadays, it’s almost a household word. More and more people are working away from their office – many times, in a completely different country to where their company is based!

It is predicted that by 2025, 540 million workers will have used websites like Upwork, Elance or Freelancer to find jobs. Layer after layer of office workers are being stripped away, as it is often cheaper to more productive to source these jobs remotely. In the future, this may see the fall of megacities as they will no longer be needed. The office could become a virtual entity, with people working from their computers in locations all over the globe.

Another reason why employees working remotely is good for employers is that, on average, remote workers are happier than non-remote. The CEO of Zapier paid $10,000 to his San Francisco employees to persuade them to work remotely and claims that doing so has helped him create a business worth $20 million.

Although not everyone will have an interactive display in their home, using them in the office to engage remote workers, ensuring they feel part of the conversation via cloud based video collaboration applications.

Co-working

Remote work doesn’t necessarily mean just working from home, too – many people get their working energy from being around people. Co-working spaces are popping up all over the globe and are great for freelancers and remote workers.

While co-working spaces refer to people working physically together on different projects, the term can be used to describe those working online for the same project. Google Drive is a popular co-working tool that is already used widely. With real time edits, comments and suggestions, it is very easy to use – and is already commonplace in many offices across the globe. Arguably, it is more effective than many people crowding around one computer or projector.

Virtual brainstorming is also increasing in popularity. It eliminates production blocking and make it easier to create ideas. It is convenient too; the fact that there is no limit to the number of members in a virtual brainstorming session makes it even more practical than a physical brainstorm!

There are lots of corporate collaboration trends that are creating the co-working office atmosphere of the future. Slack is a great example of a workplace technology trend that act as a virtual brainstorming tool, quickly gaining popularity in the workplace.

Using interactive displays while co-working greatly increases productivity. Different displays can be linked up, meaning that groups of people in different locations can work on the same thing. The fact that interactive displays have memory and can easily draw information from the internet makes them a very effective tool when working in groups.

The High-Tech Workplace

For those that are still in job roles and physical offices, the look of the workplace could significantly change in the next few years. Some examples of new technology in the workplace like wireless mobile charging and constantly upgrading interactive displays will significantly alter the atmosphere; giving it a futuristic feel.

Workplaces of the future will focus on collaboration and have less cubicles with fluid workplaces instead. It will be somewhere where groups of people can easily get together to set out business plans and solve any problems. It is here where interactive displays are essential, to help people map out ideas and reach solutions quickly and effectively.

More devices are expected to start using voice control – like Siri or Alexa – and instant messaging within the office will become more common. Augmented and virtual reality will also have a place in global businesses, and offices everywhere will become much more global; the barriers of time, space and place will be broken down.

Conclusion

There is no doubt about it, the workplace can now be anywhere – an office, a cafe or even a London taxi. Technology is leaving virtually no job untouched, as professions from home rentals to the law are all facing a period of evolution.

While some jobs are being streamlined and even eliminated, many more are opening. Technology is both good and bad for the workplace – often, depending on what kind of career you’re in. But, love it or hate it, the world (and the workplace!) is becoming more and more technologically inclined every day – so there is an increasing need to adapt to the changing technological role of the workplace.