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The biggest changes to workplace technologies

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Graeme Codrington, Futurist at TalkTalk Business, talks to HRD Connect about the revolution of technology within business and what technology we can expect to see going forward…

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How do you think we can educate the workforce on ever-changing technology?

Graeme Codrington

Interestingly, often technology adoption in the workplace is driven by consumer technology and the tools we use in our personal lives.

Back in the 1990s, when AOL instant messaging came to the UK, it didn’t take long before people were adopting it in the office. This year, we can expect companies to start using devices running Alexa for Business and experimenting with real-time translation apps.

Most people like technology that improves their lives or lightens their workloads. Companies would do well to communicate the benefits of these solutions to their employees to drive better engagement, and to encourage them to trial new technologies to better understand how they can benefit the workplace.

In many workplaces, this will require a significant mindset shift for the IT department, but it will be a shift worth making to empower people to discover and integrate new technologies at speed

If employees want to see more of the apps they use in their lives outside of work helping them in the office, then they should be having this conversation with their employers to find a workable solution for all involved. If discussions do go towards technology taking away jobs, businesses should focus on reskilling workers so that they understand how certain tasks, rather than whole jobs, could be allocated to machines, improving productivity for current employees.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for leaders, and indeed future leaders when addressing workplace technology?

Remaining adaptable and open to new ways of doing things is still a big challenge. Not every new technology will come with 100% proof of concept and ROI to satisfy the finance team. Consulting the IT department from inception and also letting them experiment with new solutions – within reason – could be a beneficial approach.

Knowing which technology is really going to take off from the outset can be difficult – so listening to employees and being open with newer solutions is a good way of going about your IT investment strategies. Design thinking, rapid prototyping and failing fast are new skills that must be learnt and applied.

It would also be a good idea for business leaders to play with available technology themselves! Virtual Reality (VR) gets a lot of coverage but how would leaders see the potential without trying it out first-hand?

Do you think virtual reality will change the way we traditionally work?

It’s hard to tell, as for workplace technologies to take off, mass consumer adoption tends to be key. VR has not quite become a mass market product yet, although we expect it to do so soon. VR software has improved, and we’re seeing it being used in business simulations and training more frequently.

Our Workforces 2025 campaign revealed only 8% of workers think that VR would become a core technology in their workplace, which suggests there’s a way to go in persuading them of its practical benefits, before we see widespread adoption of the technology in UK business.

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