Is Your Workplace Tech Meeting Employee Expectations?

Danielle Beurteaux

Until not that long ago, many people’s major interactions with technology were at work, usually via an enormous PC that took up valuable desk real estate and regularly required the ministrations of the tech department. (Remember software upgrades that took a week?)

We now have technology that’s less expensive, less cumbersome, and can be used for pretty much every step of life. The younger generations of employees have grown up tethered to devices, and, no surprise, their expectations of the technology available to them at work are pretty high.

In fact, technology, or the lack of, is an important factor when deciding whether or not to take a new job for 82% of those under age 34. It also, for 42%, could prompt them to quit.

These figures come from the Future Workforce Study 2016, a new report from Dell, Intel, and Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), which reveals what employees around the globe think about the role of technology at their jobs.

Almost half the employees polled think their offices “aren’t smart enough,” but expect they’ll be working in smart offices within five years. However, many are still working in places with desktop computers (74%) and landlines (71%), so that timeline might be a tad optimistic.

The under-34s are also looking forward to augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) applications at work – 77% want to try them out stat. But they’re not the only ones. Sixty-six percent think new technologies, including artificial intelligence and AR/VR, will help them improve productivity, collaboration, and communications.

They’re also looking at this new wave of work tech as a job benefit. When asked what perks they value most, 58% chose “high tech” over the kinds of perks that have become ubiquitous in some work environments over the last decade or so – like the ping pong table (will it be forever tarnished by association?) and even free food.

Interestingly, when asked about what they’re most happy with at work, work/life balance and relationships with colleagues both clocked in at 27%, the highest of nine categories. What didn’t do well, both at 13%, were “flexibility to choose where I work” and the technology available. (Also, we’ve written before about how important career paths are for employees, but only a sad 13% of this study’s respondents said that their jobs provided them with “opportunities for career growth.”) Considering the rise in remote working in one form or another and the expectations by employees that that will be an option, it looks like a lot of companies need to catch up on that development.

The future of work is looking a lot like a collaborative exercise where employees have multiple options as to how, when, and where they communicate with each other, all enabled by technology. For those companies still working with dated tech, now would probably be a good time to invest in some updates.

Looking for info on how to make these kinds of changes in your business? See our executive research report How to Design a Flexible, Connected Workspace.

Danielle Beurteaux

About Danielle Beurteaux

Danielle Beurteaux is a New York–based writer who covers business, technology, and philanthropy. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and on Popular Mechanics, CNN, and Institutional Investor's Alpha, among other outlets.