Younger computer users may struggle to imagine what the workplace was like without autosave. Before the cloud existed, you had to manually save files, usually relying on devices called floppy disks. These disks would be used to transfer data and install operating software like Windows 95 or apps like Photoshop. Today, even though the floppy disk is no longer in use, it continues to be an icon for the save button.
This is just one example of how technology evolves over the years to become more efficient and practical, allowing us to focus less on the tools, and more on the work at hand. We tend to take for granted just how influential technology is in our daily lives, so today we wanted to take a second to highlight some of the most important tech within the workplace.
Effects of Technology in the Workplace
It’s difficult to quantify exactly how technology has affected the modern workplace. Take a look at how your company conducts its business, chances are it’s powered by technology in one way or another. From online marketing and social media to operations and finance, work has been overwhelmingly streamlined through the aid of computers and the Internet.
For example, before tablets became as prevalent as they are today, pilots needed to carry roughly 40 pounds of reference materials, including the manual, safety checklists, log books, navigational charts, and more. Today, pilots can carry all that information in a single iPad, which weighs only 1 pound. Imagine the increase in efficiency, the ease of accessing information, and the resources saved from a single technological change.
New tech like the cloud is also allowing us to innovate at work, through tools like mass video conferencing. By now, people around the world have become familiar with Zoom, which allowed businesses to maintain face-to-face conversations during a global lockdown. In March 2020 alone, the app saw 200 million daily users. Zoom’s popularity is attributed to combining the innovation of real-time video conferencing with complete accessibility.
Want to improve your performance at work? Here are a few items we recommend that may enhance the quality of your workplace experience.
Laptops were designed for portability and convenience, not for long work sessions. If you use a laptop, you may notice the strain on your neck and shoulders after hunching over the screen for too long. Fortunately, there is a solution: a laptop stand can be placed between your computer and your desk or table to elevate the screen to your eye level. This allows you to sit up and correct your posture, relieving some of that shoulder discomfort.
For a great laptop stand, consider looking into the Roost stand, a collapsible stand that weighs only 5.5 oz. It fits most popular PC notebooks as well as Apple MacBooks.
Carrying a phone without battery life can be a frustrating experience. Thankfully, charging phones has become far more convenient with the introduction of wireless charging. Now, you don’t even need to plug in your phone or tablet, you simply need to set it down on a wireless charging mat or surface, and the device powers up magnetically. At the workplace, this can be a lifesaver in case you don’t have an extra cord and need to top up your phone before leaving for a meeting.
Noise Cancelling Headphones
Try getting work done when the surrounding offices or coworking area is bustling with activity— it’s nearly impossible. Even in a quiet room, the sound of air conditioners or traffic can be all it takes to throw you off your concentration. Noise cancelling headphones, like the Bose QuietComfort or the AirPods Pro, take in the ambient noise, inverts the frequencies, and then “cancels” them out, so it sounds as if you’re in a completely silent room (with faint sounds from the outside). Consider making this purchase if you really want to feel immersed in your work or activities.
Work from Home Gadgets
Similarly, here are a few items that can help you out whenever you decide to work from home.
If you live in an area prone to power spikes or thunderstorms, a surge protector can ensure your devices maintain a stable current, preventing any major damage. You can use them for your workstation, as well as home theater systems, and other everyday household items. They also allow you to plug more devices into power sockets than the average home outlet.
Wireless Mouse And Keyboard
The difference between a wired and wireless mouse may not be major, but the convenience is definitely noticeable. Not only does having fewer cords and cables look better on your desk, but you can also bring your keyboard and mouse to a farther distance, letting you work on your couch while using your television as a screen.
Two monitors is better than one— just ask anyone with a dual monitor set up. It may take some getting used to, but you’ll be using that second screen like a pro in no time. Use it for watching videos or reading reference material while you type something on another screen. Or have a meeting agenda on one screen while hosting a conference on another. Having more screen space is simply empowering.
If you’re going to be spending a majority of your working time sitting down, you may as well invest in an ergonomic office chair. These are designed to better support your weight and are shaped around your body. They may be expensive, but the investment is well worth it. Perhaps the most famous ergonomic office chair is the Herman Miller Aeron Chair, which has become a standard in the workplace.
Working from home just isn’t the same as working in an office. You’ll have to rely more closely on your tools to communicate and collaborate with your team members. Consider downloading apps like Slack for instant messaging, Zoom for web conferencing, and Asana or Mavenlink for project management.
Technology is as much about safety as it is about productivity. Companies would do well to invest in solid cybersecurity technology, particularly if you deal with customer data or sensitive information. Not only would you safeguard your team from a potential lawsuit, but you could also protect invaluable data such as banking information, trade secrets, R&D technology, or even simple conversations that might be otherwise misconstrued.
These days, cybersecurity can apply to a wide range of protection against potential threats. Email-based threats, such as phishing scams or email bombs, remain prevalent as ever. But today, companies must also consider new threats, such as DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service, which involves overwhelming a network or service with traffic in order to take it offline. With the rise of voice assistants and video equipment, it’s also easier now to spy on people without their knowledge. Be sure to visit the Center for Humane Technology for more information.
Besides cybersecurity technology, one must also consider the importance of the physical security system. Just because your data is deleted and your recycle bin is emptied doesn’t mean it can’t be accessed in other ways. Invest in data shredding services to ensure deleted sensitive data is gone for good. Consider adding an alarm or video surveillance to your office to ensure nobody accesses private files or devices without permission. Always remember to protect your assets both physically and digitally.
Technology for a Smart Office
Among the countless new technology trends is the concept of “smart” environments, smart homes, cities, and of course, offices. This involves tapping into the power of the “Internet of Things,” the connectivity of various devices through the Internet, including thermostats, lightbulbs, speakers, television screens, and more. The main benefit of smart offices is the added convenience compared to traditional offices. Everything is in sync and can be controlled right from your smartphone.
Cloud computing has given rise to more than just smart environments. We see it in practice everyday— from Siri and Alexa relying on the cloud to figure out the proper action or response, to office applications like Google Suite and Microsoft Office storing your files.
Other businesses are even incorporating virtual reality. Equip a VR headset, and suddenly you can have simulated conferences with other people. You can observe a model in 3D, or simply have a virtual happy hour. In other practices such as architecture, VR is allowing designers to better visualize their concepts in a full 3D space.
Another emerging trend is that of artificial intelligence. You may think this is some far-off pipe dream, but AI is already being used today. Google Maps uses AI to better parse real-time driver-reported incidents to suggest faster routes. Uber uses machine learning to better estimate ETAs for rides, as well as optimal pickup locations. Artificial intelligence is being used for complex calculations that the human brain simply isn’t capable of.
It’s difficult to predict the next disruptive technology that will change the workplace, when so few could predict the disruptive technologies of today. Whether it’s the promise of blockchain technology or simply a better-designed computer, there’s no denying that technology will continue to be an exciting and essential part of our everyday work lives. Which technology will you use to stay competitive in your respective field?
Learn more about the technology used in some of our SmartSuites™ and how they can power your business.