Dell and Intel Future Study Technology Trends Shaping the Modern Global Workplace

By Peter Bernstein July 25, 2016

This is the year in which millennials became the majority of the working population around the world.  And, while there have been several studies about what makes them different in terms of their use of technology in their personal and business lives, Dell and Intel decided to take a bit of a deeper dive into the business side of things and have published Future Workforce Study.  Its goal was identification of the global technology trends shaping the modern workplace in general with some specifics about the millennials. 

The results of the study, conducted by research firm PSB which polled nearly 4,000 full-time employees from small, medium and large businesses in 10 countries, are illuminating, to say the least, and worth a download.

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Study highlights to ponder cited by the authors include: 

  • Today’s office is not smart enough; however, workers expect to be working in smart offices in the near future. Employees globally feel that their offices are not advanced enough and desire an environment that uses data to make “smarter” decisions about employee habits like temperature, lighting, etc. Workers are not only ready for businesses to implement the latest technologies to make their offices smarter, they expect it to happen within the next five years. Specifically, 44 percent of employees worldwide feel that their workspace isn’t smart enough, and more than half expect to be working in a smart office within the next five years.

This expectation is highest amongst the younger workforce, with 69 percent expecting to be in a smart office within the next five years. The consequences for not meeting these expectations is also greater for the millennial workforce, with 42 percent saying they would quit a job with substandard technology and 82 percent saying workplace technology influences what role they would take.

Further, a majority of workers place an emphasis on functional benefits with 63 percent of millennials and 55 percent of older workers (over 35 years old) indicating they would rather have high tech perks, such as augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) and Internet of Things (IoT) than low-tech perks like ping pong, free food, etc.

  • The way we communicate will be the next thing to change. The influx of new technology in the workplace has affected how employees communicate, collaborate and work more efficiently. In fact, with many employees believing that face-to-face meetings will be obsolete soon, the norms of office communication could be the next major change impacting the workplace.

While 57 percent of global employees still prefer to have face-to-face conversations with colleagues, half of global employees and three in five millennials think better communication technology and remote teams will make face-to-face conversation obsolete in the near future. In fact, a majority of workers in China, India and South Africa already do not prefer face-to-face conversations and instead use collaborative technologies to communicate with colleagues. Within this evolution, 79 percent of millennials believe workspaces are more collaborative than they used to be, and over 70 percent of millennials feel that advanced tech/smart offices are crucial to a collaborative, productive and efficient work environment.

Further, employees noted that virtual-sharing allows for collaboration with colleagues while remote capabilities would be the most beneficial technology integration into their office lives.

  • Virtual reality and artificial intelligence could impact the workplace sooner than we think. Cutting edge technologies including virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence may soon play a pivotal role in how we work, and employees are expecting these technologies to impact their lives soon. 

While millennials are the keenest for this convergence, interestingly it isn’t just the younger workforce members who are looking forward to the introductions of these technologies into their working lives. Two thirds (66 percent) of the global population would be willing to use AR/VR products in their professional lives, while 46 percent believe the technologies will improve productivity within their individual roles. Just under two thirds (62 percent) also believe that the introduction of artificial intelligence will make their jobs easier, while half (50 percent) say AI will lead to more productivity in the workplace, with 30 percent listing the ability to automate complex or repetitive tasks as the major immediate advantage.

  • Remote employment allows global workers to focus on both productivity and quality of life benefits equally, revealing the range of advantages that flexible working provides. Evolving technology has already had a huge impact on modern employee lifestyles. Technology has allowed people to change their lifestyles, and in turn, this has impacted their work styles and preferences. With these changes, employers are offering more flexible work arrangements to keep up with this evolution to cater to the mobile worker.

Over half (52 percent) of employees already work outside of a traditional office at least one day a week, while 18 percent are working from a public location every week. Employees are also seeing the advancement of technologies to better enable these new working arrangements, with respondents listing advanced security protection as the single most important technology to be implemented into their workplace.

The 2016 Future Workforce Study states, “The workplace is reaching a tipping point. Today’s workers have a growing expectation that their employers integrate the latest technologies seamlessly and securely into their working lives,” said Allison Dew, vice president, global client solutions marketing, Dell. “Employees have seen first-hand the ways new technologies can help them do their jobs better, and are hungry to use the latest advancements to be more productive. While this may seem daunting, it’s a business-critical opportunity for companies to be at the forefront of the future workplace and enable the future workforce.”

 “Advanced technology and collaboration has significantly grown in importance, especially as millennials are entering the workforce,” said Julie Coppernoll McGee, vice president, global marketing and communications, Intel. “As the research outlines, we’re seeing this generation play a vital role in the direction of employer decisions, and is leading the way to influence the adoption of emerging tech, strong communication tools and flexible work environments. A technologically modern workplace is necessary to create a productive, happy and capable workplace for everyone.”

While it is easy to appreciate the fact that employees would like the latest and greatest, along with their optimism that they will get it in the near future, as someone who is a bit “old school” when it comes to how business is done, I remain skeptic that face-to-face interactions will become obsolete.  Indeed, one of the most disturbing trends in visiting modern “open space” offices, putting aside working with those located remotely, is witnessing people sitting next to each other with headsets on (no doubt listening to music making serial processing the norm) sending text messages to each other rather than conversing. 

I happen to be a big fan of more immersive technologies, especially the use of video conferencing and the leveraging of WebRTC, which can enhance longer-distance interactions with enriched content.  In fact, it will be interesting to see what metrics are developed to track how much.  However, full tactile engagement of one’s senses based on proximity, I believe, will remain the way most deals, particularly big ones, get done.  Technology and its adoption are certainly drivers of workplace change, but its proper use is where the rubber will meet the road.




Edited by Alicia Young
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