Changing Role of the Workplace in Our High-Tech Future

By Trevor Onions , last updated January 5, 2012
Technology is evolving at an alarming rate, and understanding how it affects our high tech future is crucial for mastering your career. In fact, the very definition of the workplace itself is shifting under the weight of technologies that were hard to imagine not long ago. Forget traditional notions about going to the office from nine to five. Pay attention to these developments that are reshaping how the workplace looks, or abolishing the traditional office altogether.

Cloud Computing and Mobility

If you had to bet on just two technologies that have forever altered the workplace, pick cloud computing and the explosion of popular mobile devices. Today, the most successful businesses are ones that equip their workers with technology that's smarter, faster, and ultra-portable. Accomplishing this allows work to be done under any circumstances, freeing the worker and his assignments from the old limitations.

Thanks to cloud computing, data can be stored on remote servers and accessed from anywhere in the world. Free services like Google Documents are allowing businesses to pull up spreadsheets and reports with ease, and so are premium providers of electronic media. Larger companies are storing their shared data on powerful cloud servers hooked into the web, which makes viewing a presentation or recovering engineering blueprints from virtually anywhere a breeze.

Mobility and its power have forever changed the workplace as well. With increasingly impressive tablet computers and smart phones, entrepreneurs no longer need to craft perfect speeches or keep heavy laptops with them to show clients their products, or explain complicated ideas to co-workers. Now, the best mobile devices can easily convey as much information as an in depth slide presentation or a professionally made marketing video.

Blurring Home and Office

The rapid drive toward mobility has also affected the old boundary between work and home life. Salaried professionals are no strangers to bringing their work home with them, yet mobile devices and cloud platforms now allow them to pick up their work anywhere. It's possible to listen to presentations in your car with a smart phone, or complete a major project from start to finish in your own home.

This melding of the professional and personal is disconcerting to some, and loved by others. However you feel, the change is likely here to stay, and so are its other pros and cons. Teleworking part time or completely from a home office is increasingly being offered by major companies. This gives workers a more familiar environment, fewer distractions, and less of a commute. The bad news is that some bosses expect unreasonably high leaps in production, and many workers fear the loss of person-to-person interaction that comes from staying in the office full time.

Managing work from afar is a new challenge to supervisors too. Keeping corporate data secure is a major concern in this brave new era, and so is keeping workers motivated. Collaborators on a project who have barely met or interacted may find it difficult to produce quality work. So, managers are under more pressure than ever before to motivate and advise diverse groups by mastering long distance technologies.

The workplace in the early twenty first century would be familiar to professionals from fifty years ago, but that may be changing. If everyone begins working from their homes or cafes in the near future, all producers will have to radically re-envision what it means to hold a job and live up to professional expectations.

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