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Robots and drones to change office of the future

European public sector workers are looking forward to have some boring tasks taken away from them by robots and drones, a survey revealed.

According to the research commissioned by Ricoh Europe, 62 per cent of employees believe drones and desk-based robots will be helping in offices in about twenty years, while 70 per cent said augmented reality will most likely become commonplace.

The survey revealed people have high expectations when it comes to new technology and believe it would be beneficial in making the work processes more efficient.

“There is little doubt that the future public sector workplace will be different compared to today, as new ways of communicating and receiving information rise to the fore,” said Carsten Bruhn, Executive Vice President of Ricoh Europe.

“A future where augmented reality could enable staff to step in and interact with building proposals and envisaged infrastructures is on its way.”

Among technologies the respondents would like to see the most were those enabling them to acquire large amounts of information within short periods of time – for example by streaming data directly into their brains.

Such technology would allow, for example, sending key data about core citizen services, internal initiatives and national and EU-wide regulations to a public sector employee ahead of an important meeting.

However, the researchers pointed out, many small steps would have to be perfected before such technology may be available. In fact, data suggests office workers today are not even taking full advantage of technology that is already available.

“Small steps will include better digitisation of business critical processes, and reviewing ways that employees are accessing information,” Bruhn said. “For example, the study shows that almost a third are still not using internal collaboration platforms, while follow-me printing and web-based meetings are also underused.”

Despite the declared enthusiasm of employees to use new technologies, employers said that the major obstacle for them to implement innovations could actually be employee resistance. Among further hindrances they named were governmental regulations, security and cost.  

The European Commission is pushing to increase digital interactions and move towards a more hi-tech workplace and supports the public sector’s drive to streamline its work processes through efficient technology. The Commission’s official goal is to increase use of eGovernment services by 50 per cent amongst citizens and 80 per cent amongst businesses by 2015.

“In addition to accelerating the digitisation of the public sector, national and EU directives can be leveraged to help establish more responsive public services into the future,” Bruhn explained. “Such an environment that’s always-on, collaborative and interactive can only help to increase productivity and effective communication with citizens.”

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