6 Tech Trends for the Working World of Tomorrow

2021 trends strongly towards supporting remote operations

オフィスでコーヒーを飲みながら仕事をする男性

2020 was an unforgettable year. In the span of a few months, people saw their entire worlds turned upside down — not only personally, but professionally. But there may be a silver lining as new trends develop from the crisis. CEOs, HR experts and company founders from the most varied of industries were recently asked what the new working world of tomorrow could look like. Here’s what they see as tech trends we can expect in 2021.

Tech Trend 1: A digital corporate culture

For months, the motto we’ve lived by has been "keep your distance," forcing many people to work from home where our own four walls have become our living space and as well as our workplace. For many, communication with the outside world has been primarily digital. 

Work has become a new and unusual situation for most of us, taking place entirely remotely without any physical meetings, where team members connect exclusively through screens. Employees who started new jobs in recent months went through their entire onboarding process remotely, without the benefit of meeting their manager or a single new co-worker face-to-face. 

With no opportunity for small talk at the water cooler, managers must now rely on new tactics for daily communication with their employees – maintaining distance without losing contact. People long for collaboration and social togetherness, so management needs to create opportunities for staff interaction, even when limited by physical distance. Adjusting to an altered corporate culture and attention to employee care is required to make this happen. 

Larry Gadea, CEO at Envoy, believes that old theories about the balance between professional and private life are going to collapse and the lines between them truly blur. Organizations must help employees strike a balance between structured and unstructured time. And, given greater physical distances between colleagues, management must find ways to support employees in building social and professional networks.

Tech Trend 2: Strategy for remote working 3.0

While some physical restrictions due to the virus will have a clear end point, other regulations may continue to apply even after the pandemic is under control. This will very likely include working remotely. Challenges of maintaining a distributed workforce aside, there are advantages organizations can look forward to. 

Zoë Harte, Chief People Officer at Upwork, agrees. She believes that companies will continue to support remote-first models, giving employees the option to continue to work outside the office even after reopening. A smaller physical workforce means companies will likely enjoy reduced costs maintaining less office space, and accommodate the wishes and needs of employees who still prefer to work remotely. This increased location flexibility will also expand the pool of qualified applicants and considerably improve access to talent.

"Executives can look for skills outside of their location, which can be a big advantage, since many technology companies are in major urban centers where the talent pool can be small and expensive," says Harte. And why not? If work can be done remotely, it may no longer be important where one’s home office is located. 

Companies that design a solid strategy for a distributed workforce, provide digital amenities and build a hybrid corporate culture that encourages employee care, are the trend.  

Tech Trend 3: Virtual onboarding

Functioning well in a virtual world will require companies to modernize and perfect their onboarding process to accommodate remote hires. Automated hiring processes – from recruitment to training – free your HR department to spend less time on paperwork and more time attracting and hiring the right people to grow your organization.

Companies like TeleDoctor24, for example, are already using ID verification to hire doctors quickly, securely, and remotely. With remote hiring on the rise, ensuring the security of personal data like social security numbers and bank information must intensify due to ongoing cybersecurity threats. A secure ID verification platform can ease these worries by offering a number of authentication methods for reviewing and storing new employees' personal information.

Tech Trend 4: Ethical AI

AI has already provided unique data insights to many companies in recent years and has truly revolutionized several business sectors, such as the automotive industry and contract analysis. Although many companies have taken advantage of advances in machine learning, the impact of this technology has not been fully considered. In 2021, however, ethical AI will become increasingly important. 

Let's take the example of a self-driving car. That car could be in the difficult situation of deciding between crashing into a bus and sending it off a cliff, or hitting a moose. The self-driving car navigates based on thousands of algorithms that have been programmed in advance by humans. Over time, the car develops its own ethics based on the algorithms that were originally set. When the self-driving car decides where to turn, who is liable for that decision? The programmer? Is there a right or a wrong answer here? Ethical AI deals with these questions.

The future demands that ethical AI evolves because consumers are growing to expect responsible use of artificial intelligence. Data ethics will become more relevant in the coming years when companies will have to reckon with data processing practices that reflect both their own values as well as those of their customers.   

Tech Trend 5: Hyperautomation

According to Gartner, hyperautomation (the idea that everything that can be automated in a business, should be) will be one of the 10 most important strategic tech trends of 2021. In an attempt to automate business processes, many organizations have been supported by a patchwork of technologies, implemented in pieces over time. Those legacy technologies are not lean, optimized, nor linked. To accelerate business with digital tools requires efficiency and speed. 

By linking AI-controlled tools with robotic process automation (RPA), hyperautomation makes it possible to automate virtually any repeating operational task. The trend in coming years will be a strengthened synergy between RPA, machine learning, and artificial intelligence – which will ensure automation and harmony among complex business processes. Organizations who do not focus on digital transformation for efficiency, effectiveness, and business agility, will find themselves falling behind.

Tech Trend 6: Transition to the Cloud 

Many companies are already automating business processes in the cloud using tools such as Salesforce. The advantages of digital cloud operations are undisputed – better accessibility, security, mobility, flexibility, collaboration, quality control, loss prevention, and cost savings. This technology will soon be considered essential, not optional. Companies left behind in the digital dust will be ill-equipped to compete. 

With the exploding growth and accessibility of cloud computing, it is predicted that cloud data centers will process 94% of workloads in 2021, relying on a combination of both private and public cloud services. Cloud solutions offer companies the opportunity to bring different services together, reduce costs and simplify compliance. 

Tech in 2021 will trend strongly towards supporting remote operations – both for humans and IT operations – increasing the security and collaborative platforms that make distributed workforces succeed. Tech trends for the new year bring focus to three critical area of modern operation:

  1. An emphasis on the employee
  2. Freedom from reliance on location
  3. The right IT infrastructure 

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