Workplace Technology Special – The Quartz at Work Memo – Quartz

The world of work has changed in myriad ways over the last few decades – the recognition of the lack of diversity in the corporate world, the arrival of millennials, the advent of corporate wellness programs and four-day work weeks and sabbaticals. But perhaps nothing in the world’s workplaces has evolved faster than the technology found within.

In this special issue of The Memo, we offer conclusions from our recent Quartz at Work (from anywhere) workshop Workplace Technology is Advancing—Are Companies Keeping Up?

Watch the recording here

In March 2020, for most companies, just making sure their suddenly returning employees had access to laptops and decent WiFi was enough. Then, as the work-from-home revolution dragged on, you saw some employees using other types of technology — ring lights, podcast-style mics, external cameras.

And now?

IT departments are largely refocusing on office tech, but not in the same way as before, notes Stephanie Hallford, VP at Intel. “In the office environment,” she says, “organizations say to themselves, ‘Okay, how do I create a way that the person online and the four of us in the room have a balanced environment?'”

And once the technical requirements of the hybrid workforce are known, what comes next?

Hallford and others look ahead to the Metaverse and the promise it holds for transforming telepresence – which you have when everyone is on a video call – into co-presence, where it feels like everyone is actually in the same room them, even if they log on miles apart. “The reality of that is still relatively far away, simply because of the connectivity and [the fact that] Nobody is responsible for the entire end-to-end process,” says Hallford.

Fair enough. Of course, the notion that companies would be able to support widespread remote work also once seemed very distant.—Heather Landy

Six (relatively) new uses for workplace technology

Our panel of experts gave us many ideas on how to make better use of technology in the workplace today:

  • Using machine learning to identify the optimal traits or experiences for success in specific roles – some large employers are already doing this

Three great memories from our event panelists

  • Technical skills are no longer just for IT staff. Sophie Ruddock, vice president of tech education platform Multiverse, cited consulting work at a construction company where the sales team and engineers wasted hours each week on manual tasks ripe for automation. Instead of centralizing work with IT, everyone on the sales and technical teams was trained to use technology that made their jobs less tiring. Ruddock argues that this is beneficial for both workers and the company: “You start spreading the competence, you start spreading the skills throughout the organization so everyone is preparing for the future of work.”
  • Technology is not a substitute for transparency. Dani Johnson, co-founder of recruitment consultancy RedThread Research, says making it clear how different systems are intended to be used by employees is crucial for managers. With that in mind, Quartz at Work editor Anna Oakes advises if you’re using tracking technology to keep tabs on employees, make sure they know and explain why it’s important. It could develop into another opportunity to underscore your mission.
  • Don’t fall in love with your technology. Find out how it can be helpful today and start using it, but understand that recent innovations can quickly make it obsolete.

A great tip from a member of our audience

“My company’s HQ team is 100% remote. It really helped to get written guidance from our leadership on how to use which platform and for what purpose as a remote team.”—Workshop listener Courtney Lewis shared some practical advice with her fellow viewers in our event chat room

🎧 Listen: Interested in working fewer days?

What if fewer workdays made you more productive? and also less burnout and more joy at work? These are some of the benefits that advocates say come with working just four days a week. But what are the downsides?

🎧Listen to this week’s episode of Work Reconsidered: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | stapler

You have the memo!

We’ll be back next week with our regular Wednesday newsletter schedule. I wish you productive days!


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