In 2024, cutting edge tech will make-or-break workplace culture

2024 is a year that demarcates some significant anniversaries in the world of technology. 40 years ago, in 1984, Michael Dell founded Dell Technologies as a college student with 1,000 dollars in his bank account. And today, the company is valued at 102 billion dollars, with a philosophy of innovation and risk-taking still driving forwards much of its approach to product development.

2024 also marks four decades since Steve Jobs launched the original Apple Macintosh. Since then, the rise of technology for personal use has been nothing short of stratospheric.

Tech is now integrated so closely into our everyday lives that we can’t recall a time it wasn’t at our fingertips, to use whenever and wherever as we please. From AI assistants to smart home appliances to wireless earbuds, technology is being democratised further and further every day, even as it becomes increasingly sophisticated. Devices are now designed to work together so seamlessly that integration into our lives happens with no trouble at all.

Despite the revolutionary advances made over the last 40 years, many workplaces are still stuck in the past. Brands like Dell are continuing to stay ahead of the game by offering technologies designed for hybrid work models. (For example, its latest UltraSharp monitors received the world’s first five-star eye comfort rating). But workplaces have been slow on the uptake when it comes to leveraging the latest and most innovative technologies. Employees are often faced with legacy security systems, cumbersome photocopiers and printers, and old-fashioned filing systems. It’s surprising the shift is taking so long when the popularity of hybrid work models continues to soar, being directly linked to talent retention. 30% of employees would now consider switching jobs if their office demanded in-person attendance from Monday to Friday.

So, how can organisations ensure they meet the demands of increasingly tech-savvy generations? The bar for tech in the workplace has been set higher than ever before; businesses must rise to the challenge or risk being left in the dust.

Cyberattacks are on the rise, so software must keep pace

The most obvious drawback of old-fashioned technology is that it tends to cause systems to crash, bugs go unaddressed, and inevitably, employees experience stress and irritation as a result. There’s also the cost incurred when IT teams must be called out regularly to fix recurring issues.

But there exists a bigger, more looming threat to be considered. Legacy technology is an easy target for cybercriminals, who can take advantage of out-of-date systems and hold sensitive customer data to ransom. Proactively securing systems should be a priority, particularly when the NCSC has projected that global ransomware threats will rise with the advent of new AI technologies.

Out-of-date technology also poses a challenge because it makes it difficult to flex to meet ever-evolving regulatory requirements; especially when lengthy manual filing systems are in place. Failure to comply can not only result in financial penalties for organisations, but serious reputational damage too.

Ultimately, outdated technology incurs the biggest impact on the workforce itself. Employees use devices in their personal lives which are highly responsive and intuitive to their needs from moment to moment. It instils anger and frustration in the workforce when systems are compromised, slow or malfunctioning. High-speed systems that function seamlessly are now non-negotiable to motivate employees to create and deliver high-quality work.

This is most true of all for Gen Z, who grew up with technology right from the get-go. This generation expects systems offered by workplaces to meet standards set by brands such as Apple, Facebook and more.

Technology is directly correlated to employee experience and working conditions, so if businesses fail to address their IT infrastructure, they may also fail to access today’s top talent.

Over half of Gen Z in the UK would consider leaving a job due to outdated tech

According to a recent study from Laserfiche, two-thirds (66%) of Gen Zers believe that their own technology is superior to what they use in the office. And over 50% agree that the technology their office does offer is old-fashioned and in need of an upgrade. The consequences if these upgrades don’t happen can be far-reaching. 70% of young people who participated in the survey stated they have left, or would consider leaving, their company due to inadequate technology.

This statistic isn’t surprising when you consider the range of different technologies Gen Zers have at their disposal when at home. Four-fifths (78%) of young people have a laptop at home, and half (53%) use an iPad or tablet. In contrast, at work, 57% must use a stationary desktop or computer, and less than a third (30%) have the option to use a tablet or iPad.

In addition, almost half (46%) of Gen Z has high-speed or fibre optic internet installed at home, in contrast to only a third (37%) at work. The disparities are clear to see.

It’s obvious that existing technologies offered by workplaces promote neither the flexibility nor the agility that younger generations are so used to experiencing with devices at home. To attract and then retain future talent, installing technology with levels of high-speed, efficiency, and interactivity will be a ‘must-have’ for organisations, not a ‘nice-to-have’.

Meeting ever-evolving employee expectations

Post-pandemic, we’re continuing to see an overhaul of the traditional ‘9 to 5’ structure. There has been a significant shift in mindset, where employees understand that they do not want to live to work, and perhaps they don’t need to. Hybrid work models have opened up a myriad of different opportunities for employees, from improved accessibility to flexibility and more.

Having experienced new ways of living and working, employees naturally now have higher expectations than ever before. Technology plays a fundamental part in achieving a new work-life balance, boosting productivity and efficiency even as it transforms overall workplace wellbeing and culture.

1984 marked the beginning of a decade of technological transformation. In 2024, workplaces are on the cusp of a similar revolution. Making the initial leap to digitally transform operations can seem daunting, particularly when tried-and-tested legacy processes have been in place for so long. But it’s a vital jump to make if leaders want their employees to feel equipped and motivated to create their best work. Tech has a fundamental role to play in helping staff to feel empowered, energised and engaged in the workplace. It will be the key to unlock the brightest and best talent in 2024 and beyond.