Preparing for Workplace 2021

eCDN solution provider Ramp identifies technology trends shaping the future of work

BOSTON, December 2, 2020 — As you look for ways to keep employees safe, productive and engaged in 2021, it’s time to rewrite your definition of work. Work is no longer a place employees go, it’s what they do—and employers must support them with the right technology. Ramp, the leading provider of enterprise video delivery solutions, has identified key trends that will shape the workplace in 2021.

“It’s more important than ever to closely examine the ways your employees are getting their work done,” said Neal Stanton, Co-CEO of Ramp. “This starts with a strategic, cross-functional partnership between IT, HR, communications and facilities to align their efforts and create an exceptional employee experience—regardless of pandemic protocols.”

To help you build a solid technology strategy for the new year, Ramp experts have identified seven trends that will shape the workplace in 2021:

Contactless Collaboration

Collaboration technology has completely replaced in-person meetings as a result of social distancing mandates. In fact, many of the top vendors have reported record adoption and use of tools like chat, video conferencing and enterprise streaming. To support a hybrid workplace—where employees can work from the office or at home—contactless collaboration will be essential. Imagine walking into a smart conference room that immediately recognizes your face or voice, and offers to start your video conference. The room also adjusts the lighting, temperature and meeting occupancy based on your specifications, and you can make changes using voice commands or an application on your mobile device. Digital versions of physical meeting tools such as digital whiteboards, design thinking software and project management applications will also gain in popularity.

Digital-First Communications

Out of necessity, remote work has become the new norm. As a result, enterprise video is in the spotlight. We’ve proven it’s an important way to connect and collaborate with colleagues and seen the power of video in communicating important company messages. In 2021, companies will need to completely reinvent the way they communicate with employees. No doubt video messages and live broadcasts will remain a core tenant, but organizations will need to institute other ways of disseminating information. In addition, tools like digital signage, closed-circuit IPTV (internet protocol television) and desktop widgets to serve up timely and relevant company news will gain in popularity.

AI-Enabled Workplace

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has gone from wishful thinking to something we use on a daily basis. You have to admit, your favorite digital assistant makes life a little easier from answering random questions to playing your favorite tunes. Beyond the smart conference room, AI will play an increasingly important role in workplace productivity. Through machine learning, AI can improve operational efficiency by monitoring workflows and automating processes that don’t require creativity or human-to-human interaction. It also has a significant role to play in customer service, supply chain and data analytics.  

VR/AR at Work

We often hear about VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) in gaming, but they have important applications in the workplace. Training has always played a critical role in employee development, but now, in-person and hands-on training are off limits. Using VR, you can learn and work alongside your colleagues in a virtual classroom or office space to feel more physically present and connect. You could also experience technical training first hand, such as equipment repair, using AR. The opportunities are endless.

Immersive Video

Video has proven itself as an effective means of communicating and collaborating during the pandemic. But as video fatigue sets in, organizations will need to find ways to up their game. Advancements such as 360-degree video and AR/VR are a good start, but innovations in 3D teleconferencing and 3D hologram video could lead us to more immersive video experiences straight out of your favorite science fiction movie.

Digital Wellbeing

Most organizations dabble in employee wellbeing programs as part of their company benefits package, but in 2021, it will take center stage—and be driven by technology. But it’s more than offering a health and wellness platform to reward employees for taking care of their physical/mental health. Vendors are building wellbeing elements right into core business applications. In addition, developers will take a closer look at UX/UI design to find ways to reduce stress and fatigue created by this always on, digital world.

Security Matters

Security has always been a top concern for CIOs, but 2020 tested every element of the traditional security model. With the increasing focus on remote work, digital transformation and cloud computing, they must move to move to a zero-trust security model. It’s no longer about protecting the enterprise in the traditional sense. The enterprise is at risk in new ways, and as more and more employees return to the office, traditional security protocols and tools will need be tested, fine-tuned and retested.

Before you introduce any new workplace technology, consider how it might impact your existing infrastructure. For example, bandwidth-intensive tools like 360-video video and AR/VR use a lot of bandwidth, impacting network performance. Consider implementing complementary technologies like an enterprise content delivery network (eCDN) to efficiently and securely distribute video across your corporate network. Learn more about what is eCDN at rampecdn.com.