In 2011 a team of AT&T information technology, human resources and real estate professionals came together to create Workplace 2020, a blueprint to transform the company’s work environment. Here, in the first of three posts on Workplace 2020, guest AT&T contributor Chris Mach discusses the new technologies that help make this new world of work possible.
Since our ancient ancestors first chipped a stone to make a scraper, tools have been evolving and changing, influencing the workplace. But today we’re seeing something new. Tools are allowing a fundamental shift in the meaning of “workplace,” and a cascade of new technology has freed us to work productively from nearly anywhere, far from the cave . . . or the office.
These new tools make it possible to create a “work-everywhere” environment. Employees can move into, around and far away from the company office, yet remain connected and engaged. And conversely, with mobility and enablement, we are seeing teams and communities of practitioners self-organize. The workplace is extending to virtual venues and in new on-demand venues, such as coworking.
We expect the evolution to continue, giving organizations and workers more flexible and powerful ways to organize work, their communities of practice unlimited by where an office, an employee, a supplier or a customer happens to be.
For instance, we anticipate that collaboration tools—linked by wireless networks, and combining audio, video, Web, and face-to-face conferencing—will become even more pervasive. We’ll see a further convergence of today’s devices (PC, smartphone, and tablet). At some juncture, we may just be working with a single do-it-all platform. Network cloud services will supercharge these devices with power not only to store data, but to analyze that data and turn it into useful information—providing insights that will guide all of us to be more productive.
As remote communication and collaboration become ever more important to organizational success, security will become an even greater issue. We expect advances in biometrics, personal area networks, and robust predictive analytics to evolve security to protect this intense, multi-faceted communication environment.
Many employers have made great strides in deploying technologies that support worker mobility, but they will need to do even more. As improved mobility and connectivity systems appear, organizations need to lead the way in putting this technology to work. Our Workplace 2020 Team has developed a number of recommendations, aimed at turning these insights into practical guidelines for supporting tomorrow’s workers:
- As new, multi-functional “converged” devices come to market, both organizations and workers will gain through their use. Support for an array of mobile apps will further extend the value of these devices and provide additional flexibility.
- Collaboration technologies like TelePresence provide lifelike video conferencing in meeting rooms. These systems will gain power and influence when they are extended to each worker’s mobile device.
- Unified communications systems, which provide access to voice communications and voice and email messages through a single portal, help workers simplify their lives and get more done.
- Employees should have the option to choose the communications device they prefer. Mobile device management systems enable workers to separate personal data from corporate information, and protect the organization from security breaches.
Using these powerful tools, we can remain fully engaged with our customers, suppliers, and teammates whether present or not. AT&T has been a force in creating and delivering flexible mobility solutions, for our own teams and our customers. We will continue to evolve these methods in our own workplace through Workplace 2020.