In the last few decades technology has advanced at a truly astonishing rate, changing our daily lives beyond recognition. Nowhere is this more evident than in the workplace; thirty-plus years ago it would not have been uncommon to find employees smoking in the office, with fax machines and the old dial-round telephones the height of technological sophistication.
Nowadays, instant communication is a given in the workplace – email, instant messaging and cloud storage are just some of the ways in which this has been made possible. On the LEO blog today we discuss tech developments of the recent past and future which have made – and will continue to make – significant differences to the way we work.
Cloud computing has already been adopted by many businesses, and is widely credited with increasing productivity and efficiency in and out of the workplace. It creates a flexible work process, with employees able to access any documents stored in the cloud from all over the world.
This makes cloud computing an effective medium for sharing items with those in other offices, maintaining a virtual office when employees may be based all over the country, and for working on projects when travelling to conferences or meetings. Cloud systems are constantly updated so they should always run at a good speed, with their flexibility being ideal for the less traditional working hours required by some companies and their employees.
Skype and its imitators have arguably already transformed many existing business processes: meetings, interviews and general company communication can all be made so much simpler when they can be conducted wherever and whenever. The free online video chat system has the potential to reduce businesses’ travel expenses by holding meetings via Skype, as well as saving time for staff and potential employees by using it to conduct interviews.
Now Skype Translator has been developed, with the ability to translate both speech and text from 40 different languages. The technology is still its beta stages, but feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and Skype engineers continue to work to perfect its functionality. Instant translation software will make communication with clients and colleagues from around the world much quicker and easier, as well saving time and money spent using translators.
The development of wireless internet had an enormous impact on life both at home and at work, reducing the number of cables littering offices and making it possible to access the internet from remote locations. Many electronics manufacturers are now in the process of developing stronger, more powerful batteries for mobile phones and tablets to reduce how frequently they need to be charged.
Wireless technology does not stop at Wi Fi, however: wireless chargers are already available for some mobile phones and are being developed for other electronic appliances. In the near future, computers, laptops and other products could soon form wire-free offices, with wireless charging stations common in every workplace.
There has been a lot of discussion recently surrounding the development of robots and artificial intelligence to the degree that it would be
possible for them to take over regular jobs. Imagining a robot sat at an office desk is one thing, but in reality robots have been changing other
workplaces for years. Electronic arms are already in use in many factories as part of the process for creating cars and other products. Self-driving vehicles have been in development for a while, and automated taxis are sure to follow if they become a success. Robotic arms can be programmed to perform all sorts of tasks, and have been used in complex surgery for a number of years. Returning to the office, self-writing software – software that is able to produce short pieces of marketing content – already exists, though as yet its applications are limited.
Essentially used as a novelty gadget when it first arrived on the market, Google Glass is now being adapted to suit various workplaces where it will have a more practical use. Accessing data and services quickly with the movement of the eyes will speed up the processes involved in many jobs where workers often have their hands full. From plumbers and electricians to warehouse and factory workers on the move, being able to process orders or almost instantly check details of the job at hand without the need for a mouse could prove revolutionary in almost any industry, as well as having the potential to reduce the likelihood of common office ailments such as repetitive strain injury.