As technology in the workplace continues to evolve, so do the skills and capabilities of employees. There is a never-ending supply of new and emerging trends in almost every industry, and the expectations for IT professionals have changed from predominantly resolving issues in a support capacity to being major contributors to business decisions.
This represents a fundamental shift in the way end users interact with each other to achieve business goals. Recently, Gartner stated that, “the future is filled with disruption. But, the pending disruptions are taking on new forms. The relationship between people and machines are changing forever and our expectations for how the world will evolve are changing too.” Given this future view, what does this mean for your team and the skills they need going forward?
Employees need to demonstrate the ability and willingness to constantly adapt and function in a workplace full of ambiguity. As artificial intelligence (AI) makes more of an impact across functional areas, projects will become less defined, and meeting business goals may involve complex, multi-faceted solutions. While ambiguity and increased technology in the workplace go hand in hand, they present boundless opportunities for creativity, innovation, collaboration, and problem solving.
While Deloitte notes that, “knowledge is not an essential talent,” moving forward, there is a definite need to continually expand your technical skills. Companies are quickly embracing digital communications, and these tools are seamlessly being integrated into the workplace. Knowing how to confidently use and communicate effectively through those platforms will be essential and learning them is quickly becoming table stakes in many roles.
Despite the multitude of new developments, not every business can afford to change their IT infrastructure every few years. While there are benefits to evolving, there is also an opportunity to create specialized positions supporting and migrating away from legacy systems. For example, how many new computer science graduates do you know who can support a COBOL system? While there are long-term risks to making changes at a slower pace, this creates opportunities for employees to support — or integrate — legacy systems into new platforms. The ability to lead and manage change is quickly becoming an important skill for IT departments who are migrating away from legacy solutions.
The Face of the Workplace
A significant future challenge for end users will be adapting to ongoing upgrades and changes to technology in the workplace. While it is easier to build a relationship with someone you can have a coffee with after a meeting than it is to communicate strictly using Skype, Zoom or another virtual application, employees must be willing to change how they view collaboration.
Amy Edmundson from Harvard’s Business School told Forbes that while there is increasing talk of teams in the workplace, she believes that work will no longer be completed by stable, bounded intact entities or teams in the traditional sense. Employees will need, “to quickly relate to people we don’t know; learning how to trust them, learning how to share our knowledge, extract their knowledge, synthesize it, even though we come from very different backgrounds, different expertise areas and so forth.”
With digital workplaces, teams will be comprised of diverse members from different locations, quite possibly from across the globe. Teams will need to adapt to the following changes:
- Recognizing and accepting different communication styles
- Choosing meeting times that accommodate employees in different time zones
- Considering how the team will achieve consensus
- Implementing a solution consistently in different locations
Many workplaces have already replaced the majority of in-person meetings with teleconferences and video-conferences. It is now common across many industries for virtual collaboration or social tools to create team spaces, wikis, and online conversations. Rather than being a member of permanent teams, employees will be expected to come together on an ad-hoc basis to address issues and solve problems before dissolving and moving on to other business or IT initiatives. Navigating through this workplace will require a higher level of social and emotional intelligence, meaning these skills will become valuable assets to those who excel at them.
Change is the New Norm
The idea of constant change due to evolving technology in the workplace may be exciting to some employees, while very uncomfortable to others. As the definitions of team, project, and collaboration continue to evolve, employees are being pushed outside of their comfort zone. However, the opportunities for creativity and innovation are endless. For savvy, adaptable end users, the freedom and flexibility in the future looks very appealing.