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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Workplaces are only going to get smarter… way smarter

The rate of innovation is only going to increase exponentially.

Workplaces are only going to get smarter… way smarter
[stockbusters / AdobeStock]

As we make moves to find our new normal and get back to business “as usual,” companies are asking themselves if it’s time to reassess their working practices. Is it time to get everyone back to the office? Or foster some kind of hybrid working to suit?

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Those who sit up and take note are preparing their businesses to be agile, resilient and sustainable in the face of an ever-changing economic landscape. They are reevaluating how to work and how they can work better. The solutions are intrinsically linked to advancements in technology.

WHAT IS OUR WORKPLACE?

Our relationship with our workplace has evolved. It has been accelerated by a pandemic, but nonetheless, it was well on its way. Gone are the days when our workplace was a single physical location. In today’s world, the lines are blurred, and our workplace is a mix of digital and physical. Take the commute to work. I’d bet that 90% of those who travel on public transport spend it on their phones, their portable office, getting ahead of the day.

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If that is the status quo, just think what the future workplace could look like. The pandemic has shown us what is possible if we embrace technological advancements. They came to our rescue, and the rate of innovation is only going to increase exponentially.

THE WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENT

Future workplaces will be smarter and healthier. They will be sustainable, carbon-neutral, built to harness natural resources—and they may even sense when ventilation is required, for example. They will also be designed with creativity, flexibility, and collaboration in mind, further blurring lines between traditional home and office interior design.

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The future office will be a place where people want to work, laying the foundations for improved well-being, creating a safe environment in which people can flourish.

THE WORKPLACE STRUCTURE

Technology has taken its place at the strategic table and is a key driver in the future of business, not just in the workplace. As such, implementing the right technologies for you and your people will supercharge them and your business.

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Smart technology will become a trusted colleague. For example, at my company, we are currently working on our own automatic speech recognition systems so that we can increase the accuracy of our transcriptions. Our goal is for our technology to work in synergy with our receptionists and to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to make the next conversation better than the last.

As an organization, you gather data every second of the day yet hardly appreciate its value. Use it and harness its power to make informed decisions. When analyzing our pre- and post-pandemic data, we discovered that despite a boom in the use of social media to contact businesses, the telephone remained the most important communication method for customers to connect with businesses. But we also leveraged data from listening to clients and the wider world, innovating with new and enhanced products and services that filled their requirements and needs. This allowed us to re-think our markets and enter new ones.

Deploying data, technology, and people will lead to more streamlined communication. We already have live chats and other instant communication tools at our fingertips. We already have digital collaboration platforms. This software will only evolve and improve, providing more personalized and efficient support for our people.

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Not only will smart tech become more prevalent, but it will also become smarter. Take AI. Today AI has a massive role in the workplace. The best computer games have complex AI engines that allow you to play against the computer. Self-driving cars are being released, and you can get apps for your mobile phone that will translate between two languages in real time. This is where we are today, and the rate of innovation is increasing; who knows what we will be capable of in ten years’ time?

THE WORKPLACE CULTURE

Redefining the workplace means redefining how you work. Your purpose may be the same, yet eyes have been opened as to how that is achieved. Technology has shown that the workplace can be flexible and the job will still get done. Nine times out of ten it will be done better than it was before.

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It means moving your people forward, preparing them for this change, supporting them to get there, and then letting them loose to realize their potential. It may mean upskilling, reskilling, and creating a whole raft of new jobs. It may mean flatter hierarchies. However it presents, it will mean more fluidity, agility, and resilience in your people and your business.

In embracing technological advancements, it is important to remember that the vital ingredient is people. Technology and people: together they are the power couple. And together they predict that there are exciting things to come for the workplace and for business.


Eric Schurke, CEO North America, Moneypenny. Moneypenny handles outsourced phone calls, live chat, and digital comms.

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