Technology continues to transform the way we live, from communication to healthcare and even dating. Advancements have also become so commonplace they are now deeply embedded into our daily lives. Statista reports that 6 billion people owned a smartphone in 2020, which is nearly half of the world’s population, making what was once impossible a reality. With this technology in the palm of your hand, it’s possible to connect with half of the planet’s inhabitants in mere seconds, tap to purchase products from continents away and work from virtually anywhere.

Technology has undoubtedly changed working life in particular, and each unique piece of tech does so differently. Here are 5 of the top technologies that are changing the way we work today.

1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence makes work faster through problem-solving, pattern identification, and outcome predictions. It reduces the chances for error and removes the burden of performing repetitive tasks from professionals, saving companies time and resources. However, it has also changed roles in the workplace. With simpler tasks now automated, AI has thus elevated job roles to higher levels of complexity. The country leader for transformation at Baker Hughes, Simo-Sihle Mvinjelwa, explained that soft skills are more essential to operate in radically transforming work environments, illustrating how work has become both more challenging and completely unpredictable.

2. The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a trend where many objects are being built to connect to the internet and with each other. With better connectivity, IoT in workplaces such as manufacturing OEMs and industrial companies can create smarter factories, buildings, and supply chains, allowing teams to achieve tasks such as performing predictive maintenance and deploying equipment-as-a-service, among other things. This technology can also be used in wider communities, such as in the application of smart water meters that inform homeowners and municipalities of any issues and failures, prompting swift action to reduce water wastage remotely. The blending of IT systems with operational technology allows companies to function more effectively and efficiently — even without their presence on site.

3. Virtual and Augmented Reality

Once limited to gaming, VR and AR have evolved to more advanced applications in different fields, breaking the barrier for simulation learning and immersive environments. The main difference between VR and AR is that the latter enhances both the real and virtual worlds while VR is completely virtual. Unlike VR, AR users don’t need a separate device to maximize the technology, as all they really require is a smartphone. AR often uses smartphone screens to overlay digital objects in the real world. It has been widely used in games, education, and other industries.

Kagiso Interactive South Africa demonstrates the application of AR well. The company developed an AR-powered video support platform for medical specialists to use during procedures and training. They have also found solutions for burdensome clerical work using an AR headset to record patient examinations to third-party transcribers.

4. Blockchain

Blockchain is a technology rooted in cryptocurrency, but it also has several applications in the workplace, particularly the shift from traditional to on-demand payroll. While challenging to implement, it has become a necessary change given the new realities of the gig economy and remote work today. Aside from the flexibility provided to paying workers in real-time, blockchain payroll services can also circumvent costly fees required to transfer funds internationally, with the transparency of a public ledger providing added security. Not only that, but blockchain has the potential to overcome the limitations of inaccurate currency exchange rates by converting currencies for payments in real-time. With this technology, workers’ days of living from paycheck to paycheck could become a thing of the past.

5. 5G

5G takes internet speeds and applications to another level, making it possible to seamlessly use services like AR and VR, cloud-based storage, HD cameras, smart retail, and even IoT in corporate or industrial workspaces. These high-speed connections will increase productivity in offices, but they can also eliminate the need for on-site workspaces altogether as remote work becomes more permanent. It also provides businesses with more flexibility to operate, such as recruiting talent outside geographical limitations and providing opportunities for upskilling to create an ever-evolving workforce.

The impact of technology on the way we work is tremendous, and it is sometimes shocking to realize how traditional work has completely turned on its head in some aspects. From the Internet of Things and smarter working environments to other radical changes like the shift to on-demand payroll, keeping up can be incredibly challenging. But by maintaining a growth mindset, professionals can harness this technology to change the working world for the better.