Is technology still making us more productive? Workplace productivity and output have plateaued since email, standalone applications, and document sharing reached saturation. In addition, the modern workforce is fickler than ever.

SwissCognitiveEmployees are more mobile in their careers, staying less time in jobs and then moving on. Thus training, retraining, and knowledge-leakage are major problems, especially in light of the fact that worker productivity is largely driven by user acceptance.

When technology becomes a bottleneck, it becomes increasingly difficult to drive improvements in productivity. The modern workforce is in need of an innovation; a completely novel way of approaching productivity at the workplace. But if technology created this problem, can it also be the catalyst that provides a solution?

Walking Down Technology Lane

Remember when “mail” consisted of handwritten letters in envelopes delivered by the post office, “meetings” meant speaking to somebody in person, and “records” were reams of paper organized in colored folders? Back in the day, office tasks were largely manual, time-consuming and cumbersome, with a high likelihood of human error.

Then came the computer. And after that, the early Internet and the unprecedented speed, convenience, and efficiency of email – a major upgrade from traditional mail, and one that rendered a number of human-performed activities obsolete. It was practical, easily adoptable, and very economical. A disruptive invention in its time, email completely transformed the workplace, poising it perfectly for the digital revolution that was to follow.

The “Email Experiment ”

The introduction of email undoubtedly drove huge productivity gains—but after more than two decades, we’re at a critical mass. The flatlining of workforce output is probably because we’re reaching a limit to how productive we can be working the way we currently do, which is almost the same as how we worked a decade ago. It still takes about the same time to compose an email as it did in 1998. Meanwhile, the volume of email has vastly increased—but the rate at which we can handle all that email has not kept pace.

Embracing the Digital Workplace

The workplace has evolved to embrace new technologies like cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), and forthcoming innovations such as blockchain, all of which promise to deliver great rewards if exploited wisely. But integrating these new technologies with people and processes – thus meeting the definition of the “digital workplace” – is the real challenge for businesses.

The digital workplace offers not just the opportunity to rethink traditional business practices, but to enable synergy between key workplace elements. More than creating a virtual equivalent of the physical workplace, the digital workplace nurtures an environment that permits more to be done – new tasks, accomplished through greater collaboration and improved visibility. […]

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