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Coming Soon to Your Workplace

Coming Soon to Your Workplace

As part of its “Endangered Species” study, LinkedIn surveyed more than 7,000 global professionals to find out what office tools and trends are becoming obsolete.  (Read our piece these office dinosaurs.)

It also asked what tools and trends people thought would be commonplace five years out.  Here are the top 10 “coming soon” and our quick comments on each:

1. Tablets
Tablets help make organizations more mobile and lay the groundwork for greater flexibility and remote operations.  Leading financial services firm McGladrey, for example, is providing iPads to all employees working at least 50% schedules.  Short-term, the tool is expected to help employees be more efficient when away from their desks (e.g. documenting tasks, taking notes, using FaceTime for virtual meetings).  Longer term, it’s expected that team members will help innovate new ways to make the tool even more effective.

2.  Cloud storage
USB thumb drives actually made LinkedIn’s list of disappearing tools.  Perhaps that’s because cloud storage is expected to eliminate the need for porting files around on tiny (and easily misplaced) portable media.

3 & 4.  Tie between flexible working hours and smartphones
Given this prediction, it’s not surprising that “standard work hours” made #4 on LinkedIn’s extinction list.  With technology enabling mobile teams and 24/7 customer service, it’s only a matter of time before companies feel comfortable loosening their face-time-management expectations.  We’re going to move from “how could we possibly work like that” to “of course that’s how we operate” very quickly now.  Make sure your organization is keeping up.

5 & 6.  Tie between telecommuting and video conferencing
See above.  Same argument.

7.  Web based documents
This goes hand-in-hand with cloud storage, of course.

8.  Laptop computers
We’ve been promoting laptops for years.  It’s a first step toward unteathering your team from the office and enabling a more agile work environment.  Then again, maybe tablets are the thing…

9.  Enterprise social networking
For large organizations and dispersed teams, enterprise social networking provides a way to accelerate information sharing and team building.  Employees launching a project or researching  a new idea will be able to search the company’s social network for coworkers with the expertise and insight they need to move forward.

10.  Webmail instead of email clients
We’re not so sure on this one.  For smaller companies that manage their own IT, sure.  But most large organizations already have their employees set up for mobile email access across multiple computing devices.   Whatever makes it easiest for IT to manage spam and message archiving will be the winner.


Photo credit: Flickr, William Hook


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