4 Easy Ways Digital Workers Can Work Smarter in 2018

From standing desks and unlimited vacation policies to integrated MarTech stacks and IoT, businesses everywhere are redefining how (and where!) employees work. The future of work isn’t a far-off dream; it’s our new reality.

It can all seem a little overwhelming, especially if you’ve spent most of your career working a traditional 9-5 office job. But there’s no reason to be nervous; adapting to the future of work is easier than you might think! Here are four simple ways that you can welcome the future of work in 2018, no matter your role.

Experiment with new ways of working.

One of the most exciting aspects of the future of work is that the traditional office is no longer the standard. In fact, a Gallup poll indicated that 43% of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely in 2017.

The remote work trend is driven by more than just a desire to stay in your pajamas; according to the State of Work Productivity Report, 65% of full-time workers think a remote work schedule would boost their productivity. And they’re right: over two-thirds of managers report an increase in overall productivity when employees have the flexibility to choose where they work. Employees who work from home three to four days per week also said they feel more engaged—a plus for any business looking to cultivate invested employees.

A great way to embrace the future of work is to experiment with remote working. The greatest part about working outside a traditional office is that it empowers you to discover what actually makes you productive—rather than worrying about looking busy.

Worried about how to ask for permission to work remotely? Here are a few tips:

  • Start slow. Ask if you can work remotely one day—or even one afternoon—per week. Summer Fridays are great way to test-drive remote work without committing to it right away.
  • Come prepared. Be ready to explain why you think remote work is right for you, and have a plan for how you’ll keep in touch during your hours away from the office.
  • Demonstrate results. Again, remote work is all about being more productive, so you’ll want to show your boss that the new policy is working. You may be working from home, but be prepared to bring your A game!

Build a custom chatbot.

With the rise of remote work and distributed teams, it’s no wonder that chat apps are moving to the forefront of work. Slack, for example, has quickly become the chat and communications hub for thousands of businesses. You can use it to send messages, host screen-sharing conference calls, and share files.

But there’s one under-leveraged tool that can instantly eliminate manual work: chatbots. According to McKinsey, chatbots could save businesses $174 billion across insurance, financial services, sales, and customer service.

Most people think of business bots as customer-facing tools that have a reputation for frustrating the end-user. But bots may be far more useful internally. You can create your own custom chatbot that can perform the exact tasks your business needs. It’s really simple to do—even if you’ve never written a single line of code in your life. For example, Workato offers Workbot, a completely customizable bot that you can use for everything, from logging demos in Salesforce to approving time off requests, directly from Slack. It’s easy to set up and tweak; most users are up and running in just a couple of hours.

Still want expert input? Check out our webinar on how you can customize Workbot to get all your work done from Slack!

Learn more about building a custom bot >

Improve one digital skill—and then share your knowledge.

By now, we all know that digital literacy is crucial to thriving in the future of work. But though people frequently talk about the importance of digital skills, it can be difficult to put that talk into action—especially if you’re not a naturally technical person.

So in 2018, commit to improving one digital skill. It doesn’t matter whether you work towards mastering a programming language or becoming an app admin; pick a skill that is relevant to your work or that simply brings you joy.

Better yet, help someone else become more digitally literate. For example, if you’re an HTML expert, teach a colleague how to make their personal blog more appealing. And don’t forget the next generation! There are lots of great programs where you can donate your time—or money, if you’re not a techie—to give the gift of digital literacy to kids who might not otherwise have access to those opportunities.

See how digital literacy can change lives >

Find a place for AI in your workflows.

For many people, artificial intelligence is perhaps the scariest aspect of the future of work. With advances in AI and machine learning, will human workers soon be replaced by autonomous robots?

It’s not likely; AI technology is still in its infancy, and it’s ill-equipped to handle roles that require softer skills, creativity, or higher order thinking.

See which skills will thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution >

At the same time, the number of jobs requiring AI has increased by 450% since 2013, according to Adobe. And there’s a good reason for that increase; an Accenture study indicates that AI technologies will boost labor productivity by up to 40%.

In other words, AI empowers you to use your precious time more efficiently—so it’s key that you find a place for it in your workflows now. It’s easier than it sounds. For example, Workato customers have used AI to:

These examples are just that: examples of how with a little creativity, you leverage new technology to work smarter, not harder. The future of work isn’t the future anymore; it’s now. Don’t be afraid to change the way you work!

Automation is another great way to embrace the future of work. See how it’s transforming businesses around the world >