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The Future of Work: Workplace Technology Trends in 2021 and Beyond

If there is one thing everyone can agree upon, it’s this: 2020 was full of surprises. From a global pandemic that has upended the way we live and work to a presidential election that has divided the nation – it’s hard to predict what the next year holds. When it comes to the future of work, however, some certainties remain, chiefly:

Technological innovation will continue in support of a remote workforce, and enterprise technology companies will drive this change to best serve people and how they work every day.

What workplace technology trends can we expect to see in 2021 and beyond? We bring you predictions from the two best crystal-ballers in the business: atSpoke co-founders Jay Srinivasan and Pratyus Patnaik. Read on for a look at the future.

Jay Srinivasan, atSpoke Co-founder & CEO

🔮 Prediction #1 – Chat will lead to an accountability crisis that will need to be addressed

Over the last few years, workplace adoption of chat tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams has increased considerably, skyrocketing further in the last year due to COVID and the shift to remote work. Recent atSpoke data shows a 13% increase in tickets submitted via Slack, while email and web tickets decreased by 14% and 20%, respectively.

As employees increasingly congregate on chat, companies will be forced to re-think internal tools and processes. Like water flowing down a hill, employees will take the path of least resistance when seeking help from internal service functions. This will lead to an increasing volume of workplace activities transitioning from “accountable” systems like ticketing to less accountable systems like chat.

The bottom line for enterprise service management: unless your tools integrate seamlessly with chat, they won’t be used. To improve productivity, while still maximizing the tools employees already use every day, organizations must streamline their communication tools.

🔮 Prediction #2 – Enterprise service management means you need focus on non-IT use cases

Legacy help desk solutions like Jira Service Desk were built for IT and IT only, and they lack the features and functionality to meet modern operational needs. Top among those needs? A service desk for all teams.

Traditionally, employee support equated to IT services, e.g., “I need help troubleshooting my laptop.” In reality, employees request services from multiple teams and functions within an organization, including:

  • HR – “I have a question about my benefits plan.”
  • Marketing – “I’m submitting a case study request.”
  • Finance – “Is there a form for expense reports?”

Companies will need to operationalize these different use cases to improve employee support and efficiencies. That means re-thinking the service desk beyond just the IT use case; it means a modern service desk for all teams.

Pratyus Patnaik, atSpoke Co-founder & CTO

🔮 Prediction #1 – More advancements in AI regulation and transparency

The use of machine learning and AI has taken huge leaps in the span of only a few years. Every powerful technology can be used for both good or bad — it is up to us to regulate and use it well to counter the small percentage of humans that will try and use it for bad.

During his campaign, President-elect Joe Biden committed to doubling federal R&D toward technology — including AI. However, we can also expect future administrations to bring regulations to curb the negative usage. The question is how far behind regulations will lag. Because it is evolving so rapidly, state and national legislation has to play catch up, which may take years.

Further research in this space will lead to greater understanding, and with that, we can expect regulations that enforce greater transparency to keep the technology in check. This is a good thing, but the stakes are high, and regulation and ethics should remain at the forefront of public conversation.

🔮 Prediction #2 – IT training will become an organizational imperative — not an afterthought

In 2020, as a result of shelter-in-place orders and a fully remote workforce, atSpoke went from managing two office networks to more than fifty. We learned that we always need to be ready. We learned that we — along with most other organizations — were already behind when it came to reinforcing strong security and general IT best practices among employees.

Companies will not make the same mistake in 2021, and we will see IT and security processes improve their standardization and documentation processes. This also includes training staff, so that when an issue comes up, they can quickly respond by looking up proper mitigation steps and execute without needing to involve the IT team. This will have a positive ripple effect on IT best practices, even when employees return to working in an office on a regular basis.

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