Will 2018 See the Death of Printers and Email in the Workplace?

Office workers want their workplace to be flexible, adaptable and free from processes and systems that slow down productivity. But what do they expect for the future of the workplace?

In 2017, enterprise work and project management company Workfront surveyed of over 2000 workers across US companies to determine what the US office will look like in five years’ time.

It wanted to capture how workers felt about the challenges of today and the potential challenges of the future workplace.

Legacy Systems. Antiquated systems such as email get heavily criticized in the report. Over the past few years, poorly used meetings and email topped the list of things that prevent productivity amongst knowledge workers.

US workers say they have an average of 199 unopened emails in their inboxes at any given time. Of the 68 emails received per day by the average knowledge worker, 21 are junk mails, and only 27 demand some answer or action.

Email, although useful, seems to create issues. It is accused of stealing workers' time and preventing them from finding critical project information. For the majority of knowledge workers, the inability to convey or find essential information in email is a significant problem according to the report.

These tools and practices are supposed to improve worker productivity and collaboration. Unfortunately, wasteful meetings and excessive emails top the list of productivity killers, with 15% of the working day spent dealing with email.

20% of respondents answered that email would no longer be used as a primary collaboration tool in the future and 31% believe that collaboration software will eliminate most conference calls. A further 28% think that printers will become obsolete because everything will be available digitally.

The Casual Workplace. Workers are convinced that the way we work will change dramatically over the next five years. Almost half of the respondents (49%) believe that dress codes will become more relaxed and over a quarter (28%) feel certain that fixed desk space will become a thing of the past.

The New World of Work. So, what will the office of the next few years look like? Although 42% of workers do not have the opportunity to work from home, the average worker works from home one day per week.

Almost two-thirds of respondents (61%) said that video conference calls would enable remote working and half think that mobile phones will become the mobile office.

One in ten will not adopt flexible working due to negative perceptions. Almost a third (31%) believe that social media will become a significant work tool.

Although knowledge workers are optimistic about the future, they felt that technology will release employees to work wherever and whenever they want to. The challenge for enterprises is to find the systems and technology to make this a cost-effective reality.

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