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Technology trends:
disrupting or enhancing your working day?

 

April 21, 2017

 

Technology has rapidly changed the workplace beyond recognition, and looks set to continue doing so. With this in mind, which trends can we expect to become a reality for everyday employees? And how does technology impact the perceptions of employees about their roles?

The following five technologies are the ones ADP feels are most likely to disrupt your workplace in the next 20 years. While each has boundless potential, there are also a number of pitfalls organisations should be wary of when implementing these within their organisations.

 

Wearables

Wearable technologies can help improve the working lives of employees in a number of ways. For example, biometric trackers – which come in the form of heart rate and sleep monitors, self–reported nutrition and energy diaries – can offer huge advantages for both employees and employers.

Employers that are able to develop a framework for understanding this data may be able to suggest changes to an employee’s working patterns, resulting in higher quality work and greater satisfaction all round. A third of European workers are already keen to use wearable technology to help them identify their most productive periods and organise their workload accordingly1. Similarly, a third would also value technology to help them manage stress1. Employers are also confident that technology will be used to measure and impact employee wellbeing, with approximately 60% of businesses across Europe feeling this way2.

Despite the benefits, adoption of these technologies would not be without concerns. The most commonly cited employee worry is related to privacy and the fact that employers may have access to what is commonly considered private employee data. This concern is very prominent among UK workers, with as many as one in five (20%) saying that they would not use wearables at all, compared to 10% in France, and 8% in Germany and the Netherlands2.

 

Automation

Automation has advanced in leaps and bounds, meaning that repetitive and simple time–consuming processes can already be carried out by a robot or advanced computer. Automation, Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence are now being regularly touted as potential realities changing the face of the workplace. Such tools are perceived as guaranteeing an accurate service and consistent quality.

There is an alarming trend emerging from research that shows employees fear automation. In fact, almost half (45%) of employees are concerned that improvements in technology and automation will replace their roles. Management has a duty to ensure employees don’t become isolated by these quick–moving advances in automation, or that they are becoming replaceable.

Instead, organisations have a responsibility to demonstrate how automated technologies can support employees in their day to day roles, and make their positions more engaging.

 

Remote technology

While remote technology is already a reality for most workers, the Work Foundations Flexible Working Report has predicted that the adoption of mobile working, for both individuals and organisations, will dramatically reach over 70% by 20203. Mobile technologies are becoming increasingly advanced, cloud computing is enabling a global workforce to work efficiently, and data warehouses are allowing the centralisation of this information. All these developments mean remote working is becoming more effortless and can help create a seamless virtual workplace.

However, there is still a desire for a physical workplace in the UK. Brits are the least likely in Europe to feel that in the future they will do all their work from a mobile device2.
Remote technology must not be immediately thrust upon the workforce to replace the norm of an office environment, and instead should be utilised to make sure that all colleagues feel connected and part of one team. Organisations need to pay particular attention to technology that can improve communication within their workforce to assist remote working. Instant messaging, web conferencing, online workspaces and internal social networks can all help to protect the culture and productivity of a team.

 

Data mining

Over 60% of Europe’s employers are confident that technology will be used to measure and impact employee wellbeing. As much as 39% of UK employers also believe technology will enable organisations to adjust the performance of individuals and teams, as well as improve their performance (38%)2. These advances could have an incredible impact for both the workforce, who will have their wellbeing more accurately supervised, and management, who can monitor employees’ performance instantly and clearly. An example of this is talent management systems and specialist recruitment software tools that make it easy to mine data from CVs, applications, and qualifications. This data can then be used to improve recruitment functions.

However, using data always raises a number of concerns for organisations to address. Issues surrounding privacy and cyber security are top of the agenda for a number of boards. Businesses need to ensure they are properly protecting their data, whilst reassuring stakeholders, employees and clients that their data is secure.

 

Streamlined systems

Payroll and HR roles will streamline and shift due to technology. We are likely to see an increase in Shared Service Centres that take care of basic administrative tasks – standardising these so they are dealt with in a cost effective and consistent way. In the ideal world, payroll, recruitment and HR work in perfect tandem: sharing information, metrics and ways of reporting.
Similarly to automation, these changes give rise to fears of replacement. However, the rise of Shared Service Centres should be seen as an opportunity for HR professionals, and not something to be feared. By using advanced technology, HR’s time is freed up so they can give their undivided attention to value adding tasks such as developing and implementing long–term HR strategies.

Look ahead today

Technology is hugely beneficial to the workplace. It not only enables employers to better cater to the many needs and desires of staff, but also facilitates more efficient work for employees. Organisations need to look ahead and ensure they are predicting the next big trends that are going to have implications for their organisation and the happiness of their employees. More importantly, they need to prepare for the risks that they bring. By striking a balance between incorporating technology into the workplace and ensuring employees do not become over–reliant on such tools, employers can ensure that a personal connection is sustained with their workforce.

Continue the discussion: #ADPinTouch

Download the ADP Magazine ›

 

References:

1 ADP UK Workplace Technology Insight 2015: UK and European Employees’ Perspective http://bit.ly/inTouch1-TT15
2 ADP, The Evolution of Work – The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace – http://bit.ly/inTouch1
3 The Work Foundation, Working Anywhere: A Winning Formula for Good Work? – http://www.theworkfoundation.com/Reports/398/Working-Anywhere © 2017 ADP, LLC

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