We're sorry, the browser you are using is limiting the functionality of this website. To get the best experience, we recommend that you switch to an up-to-date fully supported web browser. If you feel that you have received this message in error, please contact us.


Ready to Be a Worker of the Future?

by Alan Lepofsky

Today's guest author is Alan Lepofsky, VP and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research. With almost two decades of experience in the collaboration software industry, he helps organizations improve the way their employees work together to get their jobs done. 

We’re on the precipice of an era of massive workplace change, in both technology and culture. Organizations today are overwhelmed with too many tools, too much information, and too many requests from all directions. Productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency are suffering.

The Today of Work

Today we are in a near perpetual state of information, task, and channel overload to the point that we often need to stop and ask ourselves what we’re actually working on. Much of the information we receive is shared outside of the context in which it would be most effective, and we have to waste a lot of time finding the information we need when we need it. 

You’re probably feeling this regardless of where you work, whether that’s your company’s office, out of your home office, or even if your workplace is more along the lines of “if it’s Tuesday this must be Taipei.” Many of us are currently stuck in the today of work, which in many ways looks a lot like the past.

We’re Stuck in an Old Way of Working

Many of our current tools and processes are based on ways of working that are decades old, and are designed around metaphors for old physical world constraints that no longer need to be limitations for us. Icons for file sharing are still paper folders. Documents are pieces of paper. I even have a sticky note app to mimic Post-its, oh so revolutionary in 1979.

To a large extent, the interactive elements are limited by old metaphors as well. Letters. Telephone calls. Informal chats at the water cooler. These conversations aren’t necessarily tied to the work we do, so we have to spend huge amounts of time sorting through what’s relevant to what we’re trying to accomplish. These old metaphors are also restrictive in who we work with, often limiting us to silos and reducing the reach of the conversations or content.

We need to bring structure, consistency, repeatability, and perhaps most importantly, focus, to our daily work if we are to have any hope of being productive, efficient, and effective. The good news is that there are platforms and tools that currently help with this, and progress is being made every day to improve the way we work.

The Promise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Power of Collaborative Work

Imagine if instead of only us working with applications, applications worked for us? What if our tools and processes understood our habits, our preferences, and our patterns - and they could dynamically adjust to suit the context of the moment? What if they could filter content, provide insights, make recommendations, and even take actions on our behalf? This intersection of AI and productivity is part of what Constellation Research refers to as Augmented Humanity.

Augmented Humanity is not just about automation, it’s about evolving the way we see, create, discover and share information. While keyboards and screens have changed shapes and sizes over the years, they all still function in basically the same way. What if the input and output of our work were to change in dramatic ways? 

I’m curious how augmented reality and virtual reality will come to play a role in our work, shaping the way we interact with other people, and also with bots and other artificial intelligence. These new tools will allow us to reimagine our ability to interact. We won’t be limited by the same platforms, but instead have an infinite canvas of ways of working to create, share what we create, and discover what’s been created. 

Are You Ready to Become the Employee of the Future?

Are you interested in learning more about how the future of work will be shaped by technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality to help you and your organization tame chaos, sharpen focus, and finally get back to the work that matters most?

Join my session at the Smartsheet ENGAGE customer conference, where I’ll address the massive workplace change that’s afoot, then moderate a customer panel featuring high-value Smartsheet use cases that reflect this shift in how businesses manage work.