Technology is such a fundamental part of the modern workplace that it’s difficult to tell where the advantages start and finish. As a driving force behind every successful business in the world today, workplace technology can include everything from customer management software and virtual meeting tools to the keycard you use to get into the building.
Recent years have seen these tools put to use as a way for companies to continue working when teams aren’t sharing the same physical space. With the rise of hybrid working, technology has empowered teams to communicate and collaborate more effectively, no matter where they are.
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The beginnings of technology in the workplace
It’s hard to overstate just how much technology has transformed the workplace over the course of the last half-century. The first computers to arrive in the workplace were giant machines, big enough to fill entire floors of office buildings. Mostly used for bookkeeping and data entry, these early computers were loud, expensive, and required special training to use.
As technology progressed, computers became smaller and more affordable, and they began to be used for more specialized tasks and by more companies. The first word processors were developed in the early 1970s and revolutionized the way office work was done. It was no longer necessary to retype entire documents by hand every time a change was made. Word processors allowed files to be edited and saved electronically.
The introduction of the PC in the 1980s and the internet in the 1990s kicked things into light speed. What was unthinkable just a few decades ago, today’s businesses can now communicate and share huge amounts of data and information with suppliers, partners, and customers around the world instantly rather than days.
Advantages of technology in the workplace
Technology is so intertwined with workplace life that its advantages have crept into every aspect of how we do business. It’s an obvious observation, but what was once the stuff of science fiction has become totally unremarkable. Tech capabilities such as effortless videoconferencing, AI-powered logistics, and automated customer support tools would have seemed unfeasible just a few years ago—but today they’re commonplace.
A recent study by JLL showed that nearly 80 percent of companies plan to incorporate more than 10 technologies, including workplace apps, virtual reality, and remote-work technology, into their organizations by 2025.
Beyond the impressive gains made, there are many simpler advantages that technology has brought into the workplace. Smaller, more powerful computers place the world’s best production tools at the fingertips of every office worker. Speedy internet connections allow seamless communication and file sharing between offices on opposite ends of the planet. Analytics tools organize mountains of customer information and identify patterns and trends that no human could spot.
How has new technology affected the modern workplace?
Central to many of these advances is the ease with which we can automate processes and move information around. That could mean interacting with hard data, like easily accessible customer information in a CRM, or sharing project management updates across cloud-based productivity tools. Or how remote teams are better able to share and track information through virtual meetings, cloud storage, instant messaging, and email.
The ability for organizations of all sizes to collaborate, learn more about their customers, and do business in an interconnected world has supercharged productivity.
Why is technology in the workplace so important?
Just as the inventions of the industrial revolution led to rocketing productivity growth, having access to the latest technology allows today’s companies to work more efficiently, focus on the things that matter, and stay ahead of competitors.
Communication and interaction
Basic technology like email and instant messaging tools, as well as more recent innovations like Teams, Slack, and Zoom, have made it possible for employees to stay in touch and work together on projects, even when they’re based remotely.
Technology has transformed how businesses recruit by making it easier to reach a wider pool of candidates online. Employers expecting a large number of résumés can also screen candidates with applicant tracking systems, which automatically evaluate and filter potential recruits.
Technology saves time and effort. Productivity suites like Office 365 and Google Docs allow teams to collaborate on documents in real time, rather than by sending drafts back and forth. Project management software like Trello allows managers to organize team workloads more efficiently.
As the technology we use in the workplace becomes more sophisticated, so do the threats that organizations face from online fraud, data breaches, and theft. Network security is an essential part of doing business online, and involves not only firewalls and strong passwords but also up-to-date procedures and training for employees to help reduce the chances of human error.
Convenience and comfort
While it’s easy to focus on technology purely as a productivity tool, it’s also made many jobs more convenient and comfortable. The sharp rise of remote working couldn’t have happened without a resilient digital infrastructure, fast internet speeds at the office and at home, and seamless collaboration tools.
The future of technology in the workplace
Nobody can say for sure where technology will take the workplace next, but the most successful businesses have always used the tech at their disposal to build stronger relationships with customers and collaborate more effectively with colleagues. The technology of tomorrow’s workplace should reflect how teams work today, whether that’s remotely, in a shared office, or a mixture of both.
WeWork’s range of customizable offices are designed with the future of flexible working in mind and come equipped with the workplace technology your teams need to do their best work. Whether you’re launching a remote team in a new city, or need to reserve a modern workspace at short notice, WeWork provides beautiful offices to help you achieve your business goals.
Steve Hogarty is a writer and journalist based in London. He is the travel editor of City AM newspaper and the deputy editor of City AM Magazine, where his work focuses on technology, travel, and entertainment.