Are our workplaces smart enough?

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Market research firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) interviewed 3,801 employees around the world about what they were expecting in the near future in terms of technology.

Working with HAL

PSB found that respondents were expecting to be more mobile and to do less face-to-face. They were also expecting to be more capable—use artificial intelligence to give them a boost—and more productive. However, they do fear potential job loss as a result of advances in technology.

Dissatisfaction with current tech is (just about) staved off

Unsurprisingly perhaps—given what employees are picturing for the near future—employees are becoming dissatisfied with their current workplaces. Landlines are for dinosaurs, and computers better be up to date or they’re moving on. They want their training enhanced with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and they think the Internet of Things (IoT) is exciting. More than 50% of them expect to be working in a smart office within the next five years.

The majority of workers say their workplaces are smart enough (for now). Eight percent even think their office is “too smart.” But that leaves 44% who don’t think they work in a smart office, a number that will only grow if IT departments don’t keep pace with expectations. Millennials, in particular, say they’ll head for the door if the office isn’t smart—or 42% of them will, anyway.

Stop wasting my time

The biggest time wasters at work are IT’s fault, say employees:

  • Administrative tasks (19%)
  • Slow or glitchy software (19%)
  • Slow or glitchy devices (17%)

They want what they have at home, please. A third of employees say their domestic tech is superior to what they’re given in the office.

Won’t work for food

If you ask your employees to choose between high-tech perks such as AR/VR equipment and free food or games, more than half of them choose the tech over the hot dogs and table tennis.

Getting out of the office

Old-style managers worry whether remote workers are putting their feet up when out of site, but actually, such workers are the most committed to their jobs. “My job is a core part of my personal identity,” said 72% of those who work remotely some of the time, compared to 59% of those who are office-bound. Another 59% of remote workers agreed with the statement “work is life,” and 45% said work was key to their social life. In both cases, office-bound workers were less enthusiastic.

Double-edged sword for IT

Employees are excited, even if 29% of them think a robot will take their job, which is great for IT, but there will be penalties for organizations that can’t keep up with employees’ expectations of working in a smart office. They’ll see employees looking for the exit—or their jetpack.