5 New Technologies For Improving The Workplace

Written by: Kevin Gardner

Business owners are always on the lookout for ways to improve the workplace. It's a major priority for employees as well. When productivity lags or something goes wrong, the technology (or lack thereof) is often to blame. Whether your office is physical or virtual, the tools we use can make our workplaces better. Here are five new technologies that are up to the task.

Broadband Connectivity

One of the big stories of 2020 in the tech world was the widespread deployment of the 5G technology standard for broadband cellular networks. This is a big deal because strong, smooth connectivity is more important than ever before. The large number of people working remotely combined with the diverse array of devices used in business makes adopting broadband all but necessary in order to avoid annoying (and costly) communications lag times.

While phasing in broadband is a good idea on its own, it's also prudent to upgrade the rest of your systems, whether that means investing in ergonomically-designed office furniture and workspace architecture, purchasing tough laptops for remote workers, or getting high-end security software to protect them. 

Employee Engagement Software

A recent Gallup poll shows that only 36% of employees are engaged in the workplace and their work. This lack of drive can be a terrible drag on productivity and contributes negatively to the well-being of workers. There are a few emerging technological solutions to keeping employees mentally present. One variety of engagement software is called "gamification." It adds fun to work by allowing individuals and teams to compete for points and recognition based on the accomplishment of benchmarks. Nothing can replace the power of a shared company vision in terms of motivation, but these applications are a step in the right direction. 

Augmented Reality Systems

Augmented reality (AR) gear and the more fully immersive virtual reality (VR) are already helping to make modern workspaces safer. AR or VR input has been shown by research to increase information retention rates among employees during training. Having a heads-up display available during a physically-intensive project can be a powerful upgrade since critical safety-related data can be viewed at a glance while on the job. This technology is in its infancy right now, but look for its impact to be felt more keenly over the next few years. 

Robotic Process Automation Tools

Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning are allowing the automation of many tedious business processes. Digital robots, also called "software agents," can handle repetitive tasks such as coding and billing or transcription, allowing often-understaffed businesses to focus on operations requiring a more human touch. Sales force automation software, such as customer relationship management (CRM) tools, also fall under the broad umbrella of business process automation systems. Since many sales campaigns are done primarily via SMS or email, CRM software can handle the daily legwork of outreach while sales teams are freed to think creatively. 

Sustainable Design Solutions

Incorporating sustainability into your infrastructure can be massively beneficial. Decisions like purchasing EnergyStar appliances and performing an energy audit can make a sizable impact on cutting power costs. Renewable energy itself has also become a sound financial decision. This applies especially to solar power, since multiple tax incentives now exist at the federal, state, and local levels to spur installation of solar power systems. A side benefit to designing work spaces around ecology is the impact it has on employee wellness. Many of the small changes that companies make to become more eco-friendly objectively improve the health of workers. Using natural light can benefit vision and Vitamin D storage. Food sourced locally tends to have higher nutrient density. NASA studies even show that some common decorative plants help cut carcinogens in the air. It's no wonder that a FastCompany poll showed that nearly 40% of millennials have chosen to work for a company based on its commitment to sustainability. 

Technology is constantly evolving. We can never know what tomorrow will bring, but we can make sure that we have the tools needed to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.

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