By Pat Harper, CTO of PGi,
While Boomers and Gen X’ers still play a prominent role, the faces of today’s workforce are increasingly those of the Millennial generation. Last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that those aged 25-34 made up the largest population of employed people in the United States. With this finding comes an understanding that today’s employees have grown up alongside the rise and rapid advancement of technology, and, therefore, have greater expectations than ever before.
The modern workforce is tech-savvy, constantly on-the-go and, most notably, always connected. Understanding how today’s workers, well, work is crucial for businesses to recognize, and foresee, the technology that will be necessary to keep employees productive and engaged well into the future. While Unified Communication (UC) vendors are looking to keep up with changing workplace habits, it’s imperative that businesses put the user experience at the forefront when choosing technology solutions. Three key considerations should be considered when choosing the technology for today’s workforce and for the workplace of the future:
High expectations for quality
In the race to invent the next big thing, quality is often overlooked when it comes to the latest tech tools. Today’s workforce demands a higher caliber of tools to alleviate stress and remain productive throughout the day. If the audio in a video conference lags or the visuals are pixelated, employees become frustrated and are less likely to get things done in an efficient manner. What’s more, an estimated 36 percent of conference calls take place on mobile devices today – a number that is expected to jump to 50 percent by 2020. Despite this fact however, a 2014 Consumer Report survey found that none of the 100+ smartphones surveyed earned better than a “Good” score for voice quality. With so many people joining calls on the go, it is critical that businesses are supplying employees with tools that don’t inhibit their abilities to connect to and participate in critical conversations or meetings.
Reliance on personal assistants
While collaboration tools have allowed employees to communicate across departments and regions in real-time, people are looking to interact with more than just each other. Artificial intelligence (AI) assistants have become the norm at home and are starting to make their way into the workplace as people look to them for help in making decisions, organizing tasks or simply seeking a solution to a problem. Gartner predicts that, by 2020, smart agents will facilitate 40 percent of mobile interactions, meaning more people will be turning to their tech for everyday solutions and information. Employees will soon expect all workplace technology, including UC tools, to utilize AI-driven features in order to do things like help recall meeting notes and chat conversations, prioritize emails based on learned behaviors and overall be a source of business-critical information via chat bots, all of which lead to a frictionless and more efficient experience at work.
Need for automation
While modern workers have increased their expectations of the tools they use to communicate and be productive every day, employers now expect more from their employees as well. Often moving straight from one project or meeting to the next, workers can become less productive during the day as they become bogged down with mundane tasks. Additionally, poor time management and planning can often be associated with unnecessary or ineffective meetings. In the near future, employees will look to UC vendors who can provide automation tools that make meetings more efficient by doing things like determining when or if meetings are necessary based on chat logs and email threads, automatically scheduling and rescheduling meetings based on priority and recording, and distributing meeting notes and tasks.
What were once workplace trends have now become realities, and employees’ wants and needs are continually evolving with the development of new technology. To succeed, businesses must adapt their vetting processes and buying decisions to factor in the habits of their employees when choosing a UC vendor. Doing so will strengthen the end-user’s ability to get things done quickly and efficiently, setting employees and businesses up for success now and into the future.