March 31, 2023

3 min

What’s Next for the Digital Workplace?

The evolution of the workplace continues as trends such as remote work, artificial intelligence and virtual reality shape the future.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations were racing toward an increasingly digital workplace, with devices, apps and connectivity becoming more important than the physical office space to support employees in performing their jobs. But it’s impossible to overstate the extent to which the past few years have accelerated this transition.

In 2020, 42 percent of the U.S. labor force worked from home full-time, up from just 9 percent the year before. Ninety-eight percent of remote workers want to continue working remotely, at least part-time, for the rest of their careers. And 77 percent of remote workers report being more productive from home.

For many organizations, this transition was sparked by necessity rather than by strategy. Business and IT leaders scrambled to roll out devices and collaboration solutions to meet the moment. But as the digital workplace continues to evolve, employers should take proactive steps to prepare for the future.

A Continued Push to Remote Work

Now that the dust of the COVID-19 crisis has largely settled, many organizations are still feeling out what the future of remote work will look like for them. Business headlines have heralded return-to-office efforts in recent years, but many employees have resisted, and we’re still in an economy where workers have enough leverage to leave companies that don’t meet their needs. Over time, we’re likely to see organizations settle on which types of job roles can be performed completely remotely, which require an in-office presence and which make sense for hybrid work.

Increased Use of Artificial Intelligence

In many ways, we’re still in the early days of artificial intelligence. While we may not know exactly what role the technology will play in the future of the digital workplace, it will likely be a key component. AI has the potential to revolutionize the workplace by automating tasks, improving decision-making and enhancing communication. For instance, AI-powered chatbots can already provide real-time customer support, and machine learning algorithms are already helping to analyze data and generate insights in IT environments.

More Immersive Collaboration

Virtual and augmented reality technologies may not have been the immediate slam dunk that many people were hoping for, but they continue to advance. As these tools evolve, they will enable more immersive collaboration experiences, potentially including virtual meetings that feel like in-person interactions and virtual whiteboards that allow team members to collaborate on visual projects in real time.

Greater Emphasis on Security and Privacy

If there’s one thing that is evolving faster than the digital workplace, it may be the cyberthreat landscape. Going forward, organizations will need to take more steps to ensure that their collaboration tools are secure and comply with data protection regulations.

Systems Integration

As collaboration tools become a central part of business operations, organizations must integrate them more tightly with other business systems, such as customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning tools. This will enable organizations to streamline their workflows and improve collaboration across departments — and help create an environment flexible enough to adapt to the evolving digital workplace.

Story by Todd Ketterman, a highly accomplished strategic business and technology advisor with over 25 years of experience in telecommunications, healthcare and finance. He currently serves as CDW's Executive Technology Strategist in Digital Experience and is recognized for his expertise in the field and commitment to giving back to his community.