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Will 2018 see the death of printers and email in the workplace?

As we move towards a paperless -- and email-free workplace, how will the office of the future look in five years time?

Office workers want their workplace to be flexible, adaptable and free from processes and systems that slow down productivity. But what do they expect for the future of the workplace?

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UT-based enterprise work and project management company Workfront conducted a survey in 2017 of over 2000 workers across US companies to determine what the US office will look like in five years time.

It wanted to capture how they felt about the challenges of today and the potential challenges of the future workplace.

Legacy systems

Antiquated systems such as email gets heavily criticised in the report.

Over the past few years, poorly used meetings and email topped the list of things that prevent productivity amongst knowledge workers.

US workers say they have an average of 199 unopened emails in their inboxes at any given time.

Of the 68 emails received per day by the average knowledge worker, 21 are junk mails, and 27 demand some an answer or action.

Email, although useful, seems to create issues. It is accused of stealing workers' time and preventing them from finding critical project information.

For the majority of knowledge workers, the inability to convey or find critical information in email is a significant problem according to the report.

These tools and practices are supposed to improve worker productivity and collaboration. Unfortunately, wasteful meetings and excessive emails top the list of productivity killers, with 15 percent of the working day spent dealing with email.

Twenty percent of respondents answered that email will no longer be used as a primary collaboration tool in the future and 31 percent believe that collaboration software will eliminate most conference calls. A further 28 percent believe that printers will become obsolete because everything will be digital.

The casual workplace

Workers are convinced that the way we work will change dramatically over the next five years. Almost half of respondents (49 percent) believe that dress codes will become more relaxed and over a quarter (28 percent) believe that fixed desk space will become a thing of the past.

Surprisingly, one in ten said that cursing or foul language will become accepted in the workplace.

The new world of work

So what will the office of the next few years look like? Although 42 percent of workers do not have the opportunity to work from home, the average worker works from home one day per week.

Almost two-thirds of respondents (61 percent) of respondents said that video conference calls will enable remote working and half believe that mobile phones will become your mobile office.

One in ten will not adopt flexible working due to negative perceptions. Almost a third (31 percent) believe that social media will become a major work tool.

Although knowledge workers are optimistic for the future, their hopes are that technology will release employees to work wherever and whenever they want to. The challenge for enterprises to find the costs to make this a reality.

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