It’s an understatement to say that information technology has affected our lives. It’s changed the way we talk, the way we find information, the way we exchange goods and services, and the way we work. This last point is particularly pertinent in our current circumstances, but it relies on those that come before.
Work used to be the place providing access to the latest technology, and that’s what we’d use to do our jobs. As the pace of IT development grew exponentially, businesses were unable to keep up with the rapid changes, and behavioural dynamics changed. The advent of the smartphone put incredible capability into our pockets, and suddenly we were flying.
This was difficult news for business, though, as rapid access to information and ‘always on’ culture shaped our expectations: as customers, of how we interact with brands; as employees, of how we get work done. As the best technology is now portable, we’re able to take it into work – or take work with us wherever we go. This enablement has tremendous positive potential, but from a security point of view the threat of ‘shadow IT’ in the workplace has some businesses struggling to keep up with employees’ expectations.
Harvey Neve, Head of Digital Transformation for Public Health England, on our changing relationship to technology in the workplace.
With technology being an intrinsic part of our lives, we don’t expect it to be something we put down or turn off when we get to work. Quite the opposite: as we become more technologically-enabled, we expect to use that capability to help us overcome challenges, share information, harness our creativity and get work done. Those younger members of the workforce, who don’t know life without the internet or don’t remember life without smartphones, the most familiar and enabled among us, carry the highest expectations around how they want to work.
We’re finally coming to recognise that work is no longer a place you go, but rather a thing you do. Through convenience, technology has enabled changes in behaviour. It has enabled mobility. Given the capacity of technology to now deliver those levels of mobility at a scale to suit businesses, we expect to apply the same behaviour and the same capacity to our work as we do to our multichannel, instantly connecting, seamlessly-sharing collaborative personal lives.
We expect to take work anywhere, to ‘do’ work rather than ‘be at’ work, to instantly connect and collaborate in real time. Remote work introduces the capacity for us to mix professional and personal productivity, to redress the work/life balance equation. Remote work gives companies the chance to meet their employees’ expectations, make them feel empowered, and approach productivity from a more tangible perspective. Technology enables the practise, and its success depends on how it is adopted.
For help on your business’s adoption of remote working, go to our remote work resources hub.
Originally published Mar 12, 2020, updated Jan 17, 2023