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4 min read

What’s the “Future of Work”?

4 min read

This article was originally published in the August edition of HR Future Magazine.

Here’s the Top 4 Issues Currently on Employees’ Minds

In a time of economic uncertainty, confusion over return-to-office mandates, and emerging technologies like ChatGPT, many Americans are looking at the future of the workplace and their jobs with some unease and trepidation. In order to provide new insight into public opinion surrounding these current national conversations, Miradore recently conducted a survey on the “future of work,” the best work-from-home practices, and the essential role technology is playing in all employee experiences.

In a survey that went out to over a thousand Americans, Miradore asked a series of questions with the goal of gaining deeper insight into what employees think about digital technology and the work-from-home model. This included asking them about solutions that enhance day-to-day efficiency, as well as digital products that often make the remote experience more frustrating.

The four main takeaways below show where today’s technological solutions are working to create a positive remote job experience. This can be useful information for employers, given that more of their staff are working remotely than ever before. It also clearly shows that there’s still some room for improvement when it comes to making the “future of work” work better for their employees.

    1. 65% of respondents feel in-person workers are still slightly more valued than their remote counterparts.

This mirrors the mixed results of recent studies that have examined the differences in attentiveness, productivity, and teamwork between remote and in-office employees. It’s a complex issue that’s still relatively new, and measurements are still being developed to test related factors. With different metrics yielding different results — some show that productivity is raised, while others show that it is lowered.

Despite these differences, there doesn’t seem to be a major difference between real productivity when it comes to remote vs. in-person work. However, a slight bias against the practice of working remotely and the people who do so remains. To address this, employers who are serious about ensuring their remote employees feel valued and supported should invest in technology solutions that help remote employees feel more connected to their workplace. To do this, they should speak to them one-on-one to find out what would make their work more rewarding and efficient.

    1. Only 35% of respondents thought that their company used digital solutions to make remote employees feel engaged and included.

Tech and HR executives agree that thoughtfully leveraging technology for collaboration and community building is a big part of making remote employees feel welcome and connected to their hybrid workplace. Still, a large majority of employees clearly feel that their companies could be doing more. They should be seeking out the latest platforms and tools that will make collaboration easier, facilitate convenient communication between people and teams, and meet the other needs of remote employees.

Others reported that apps like Zoom, SharePoint, Slack, Asana, and free work computers for their home were some of the solutions that companies use to improve engagement in a hybrid culture. For companies with limited resources to spend on apps and new tech, they can consider other, low-cost ways to foster a community such as virtual all-hands meetings that recognize remote employee accomplishments, all-team virtual lunches, and regular one-on-one check-ins with remote employees.

    1. 72% of respondents were not concerned that AI technologies like ChatGPT would negatively impact their jobs in the next year.

These findings match the prevailing wisdom from many tech experts, that budding AI technology does not pose a significant threat to many jobs in the short term. However, many respondents felt that this will change over time as the technology continues to develop and improve. This was reflected in an elevated concern seen from the younger generation (age 18–34) who will still be in the workforce when AI advances to something more useful.

As for today, companies exploring potential applications of ChatGPT and other AI in their field should be transparent with employees about the potential use and scope of work. Companies should also reference government resources like NIST’s AI Risk Management Framework to ensure the use cases they are exploring are safe, legal, and effective. This is still an emerging technology so any moves they make should be carefully considered and thoroughly reviewed before implementation. That will ensure the company and its workforce are protected from any unintended consequences in the future.

    1. The biggest frustration for employees is the quickly changing nature of technology (21%) and the use of too many devices and platforms (17%).

A recent Microsoft survey found that 72% of respondents wished their collaboration tools were more integrated and compatible with one another. Condensing these tools into fewer platforms can help meet this preference for employees, while also addressing the issue of rapidly-evolving technology by lowering the number of tools and platforms workers need to learn and understand. The employees we surveyed expressed a clear preference for all-in-one solutions that maximize productivity while minimizing the time they need to spend switching between devices and platforms.

As companies continue to update and improve their technology infrastructure, they should focus on consolidating tools into as few devices and platforms as possible. This has the potential to improve employee morale and save money on technology costs. Additionally, employees also expressed frustrations related to insufficient IT support staff and resources (14%). These can be mitigated by using back-end technology like mobile device management (MDM), which automates certain device maintenance and security tasks so that existing IT staff have more time to troubleshoot complex issues and resolve pressing problems.

However, just 4% of respondents found MDM enhanced their productivity in a hybrid or remote environment. This means that most employees are likely unaware of the purpose of MDM or if it is even deployed at their workplace. MDM, if used appropriately, will feel like a seamless, behind-the-scenes technology solution, especially when compared to the communication and connectivity platforms remote and hybrid workers use every day, like Slack and Zoom. While the benefits of MDM may not be visible to most end-users, it can save significant amounts of time and money for a company and their IT staff through automated device patching and maintenance, bolstered cybersecurity, and remote diagnostics and support functionality.

While uncertainty about the “future of work” continues, our survey on the digital employee experience sheds some light on what employers should prioritize in order to keep remote workers engaged and the workplace functioning seamlessly. Companies who are committed to attracting and retaining the top talent should ensure their remote workers feel trusted and valued through investments in technology while also improving on hybrid company-culture. Companies that are looking to prioritize employee morale and well-being should consider adopting new technology, which meets employee needs by consolidating existing tools onto fewer devices and platforms.