By Pat Goepel
It’s a typical Monday morning in 2015. As Josh enters his office building, he launches an app on his cell phone that takes his photo, verifies his location and validates his security privileges to quickly pass through building security. He sits down at his shared cubicle and boots up his personal laptop. As he logs in, the laptop detects his location and triggers the digital photo frame in his cube to pull up his family photos and change the nameplate to Joshua Harris. He connects into his weekly staff meeting from his Austin-based office via webcam and is greeted with a friendly wave from team members in London, Chicago and San Francisco. When the meeting adjourns, he heads to the company café for a brainstorming session and has also booked a room and ordered beverages via his mobile device for an afternoon client meeting. When Josh arrives for that meeting, the LCD touch panel outside the conference room tells him who has entered the room and who is attending online.
The Future or Now?
Does this sound futuristic and high tech? Or does the scene seem surprisingly realistic? The workplace of the future is rapidly changing to accommodate the workforce of the future. These shifts are driving a massive business change – workplaces are going where the talent will be.
New and emerging technologies are driving efficiencies and collaboration with the potential for immediate and substantial cost savings, while the lowering expenses not related directly to new revenue and business growth.
To support the rapid shift in how the workforce works, three technology trends are in play:
Geospatial technologies are rapidly entering mainstream technology. These technologies are used on a daily basis to get directions, track friends and plan vacations. In the work environment, geospatial technology is being paired with facial recognition capabilities to provide powerful workforce and workplace management tools. Through their mobile phones, employees can punch in and out, verify their location, and even validate their identity via a photo using camera functionality and GPS locators. An estimated 75 percent of the world has access to cell phones, so it’s a fairly safe bet that employees will embrace using mobile phones to manage daily activities on both the personal and the work front.
Trend #2: Technology “Mobilization”
Today’s workforce is on the move. According to the Telework Research Network, the number of people who telecommute (not including the self-employed) rose 73 percent from 2005 to 2011, and the trend is expected to continue. IDC forecasts 1.3 billion mobile workers by 2015. Because talent is not conveniently located in one location, it is commonplace to form workgroups that span the country and even the globe. Corporations no longer need to equip employees with “an employee backpack” of a desktop PC, a cubicle and a land line. In fact, employees are investing in their own devices to support their highly portable lifestyles. By equipping employees with mobile-friendly cell phones, tablets or laptops, employers can fuel productivity and reduce IT expenditures.
In terms of real estate, many employees no longer need dedicated cubicles. Instead, they are looking for spaces to collaborate. Coffee shops, game rooms, and even campus pubs are not just employer-sponsored social areas; they’re collaboration areas that spark creativity, innovation and growth.
Trend #3: The Cloud
“Big data” and “the cloud” can offer a bigger buzz than a triple espresso latte because they are the key to arming the global, mobile, transient and highly talented workforces with the data they need – when and where they need it – to make decisions, manage initiatives and drive business growth. By having data at the hands of the entire workforce, wherever they reside, teams have the business intelligence they need to detect trends, innovate and plan the company’s next big move – before the competition does.
As they say in football, a quarterback needs to throw the ball not to where the receiver is, but to where the receiver will be in order to make the big play. The workplace needs to be prepared for where employees are heading. By taking a proactive, deliberate approach to areas like real estate, technology and labor administration expenses, and by leveraging the right technology tools to inform decisions, it is possible to fuel unprecedented productivity and growth and convert high cost areas of the business into a strategic advantage.
Pat Goepel is CEO of Austin-based Asure Software. Asure Software, Inc. (NASDAQ-CM: ASUR) offers cloud-based technology solutions enabling companies to better manage their most expensive costs: labor, labor administration, and real estate.