Philip Ross is the Founder and CEO of the UnGroup and Cordless Group. An author, futurist, and advisor on the new world of work, Philip specializes in predicting the impact of emerging technology on the way we will work, shop, learn, consume leisure and live. Much of his focus has been on workplace innovation, advising organizations such as McKinsey & Co, Marks & Spencer, EY, Allen & Overy, GSK, Barclays, Macquarie Group, and BBC among others on innovation and future concepts.
Ever since he founded his business in 1994 with the publication of The Cordless Office Report, he has written a number of books on the future of work including The Creative Office, The 21st Century Office and Space to Work (all co-authored with Jeremy Myerson). In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Philip talks about the workplace of the future and how Worktech will impact efficiency and productivity in the future workplace.
Technology is altering the way we work and our workstyles. What do you think will be the two-three most significant ways in which emerging technology will impact work and the workplace?
Technology has changed the relationship we have with our workplaces. People are no longer anchored to the office because technology has enabled flexible working and when people are in the office, they are not anchored to one space which enables agile working practices.
Technology is starting to be built into the infrastructure of the building, starting a new wave of ‘cognitive buildings’.
These workplaces will be active predictors of individual employee needs, instead of passive responders. This means employees will have more seamless working experience.
Collaboration has become a significant part of workplace strategy and new technologies are allowing for more seamless collaboration between employees. Collaboration across different geographies can now be achieved by advanced video conferencing systems and instant idea sharing tools such as interactive whiteboards can send workings electronically in real-time.
Increasing use of Worktech means the adoption of new ways of working, which will necessitate a change in people’s behavior and their relationship with technology. What do you think is this change going to look like?
People will have a more seamless working day. From the moment they wake up through to working in the office and commuting home. Technology will respond to people’s working preferences such as lighting and temperature in the office, reserve a parking space in the staff carpark before they arrive at the office and even know the individual’s coffee order before they have to order it. This means there will be more time for people to focus on their work tasks and less on the environment they are working in.
How will Worktech impact efficiency and productivity in the future workplace?
AI and automation are coming into offices and for the most part, this will increase the efficiency of the workforce. This means employees will retrain and upskill constantly to work on more human-centered tasks such as innovation and collaboration. In turn, this will increase the productivity of the future workforce.
What is your vision of a future workplace? How will it look like and how will the people and technology dynamics be in such a workplace?
The workplace of the future will be responsive to individual employee needs from the moment they enter the building.
Biometric security will grant access into the building, a workplace app will help locate people in the building, locate and book seats and meeting rooms, tell individuals what services are offer in the workplace and suggest events to individuals best on their preferences. This workplace will allow employees to walk into the office and all they will have to think about is the work at hand allowing for a more productive workforce.
Do you feel digitization of the workplace will result in damping down the human connect factor? How do you think will more wired and connected future workplaces affect the human factor in the workplace?
The physical office is now emptying of large hardware technologies as everything moves to the cloud and smart devices become the primary technology used. This means the physical office has become a space for community and human interaction. Although technology technically allows for people to become more geographically dispersed, what we are actually seeing is more people wanting to come into the office to interact with their colleagues. This means the workplace has in fact become a social tool.
What do organizations need to prepare their employees to the advancing march of Worktech and adapt to the future workplace?
Leadership is key to implementing change management in any organization. Engaging with leadership ensures the top-down support which is necessary to integrate a successful change in an organization. Leaders should communicate openly with their teams to prepare them for new changes, particularly in technology. Following this, support programs to train and upskill employees to use new technologies will help them adopt the technology more willingly.