Do Employees Really Want Smart Speakers and Digital Assistants In The Workplace?

by Kenton Gray on March 18, 2019

Touchscreen technology was revolutionary when it was originally introduced in the 90s.

But now—thanks to digital assistants like Siri and Alexa and smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home—voice is the new touch. Voice-assisted technology is exploding in popularity. In fact, 21 percent of homes in the U.S. now have a voice-activated smart speaker, following a nearly 80 percent leap in smart speaker sales between 2017 and 2018.

So when you consider that almost half of all employees worldwide want the technology they use at work to function like the technology they use in their personal lives, it makes perfect sense that smart speakers and digital assistants are making their way into the workplace.

However, while this technology can certainly make the lives of employees easier, it does have some major drawbacks. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using voice-activated devices in the workplace.

3 Advantages Smart Speakers And Digital Assistants Can Offer Employees

Event And Project Reminders

It’s the most literal application of a digital assistant but it’s also one of the most useful— the ability to create alerts and reminders for important upcoming events. Have a can’t-miss-without-major-consequences meeting? Just say, “Alexa, send me a reminder about the conference call at 2 p.m.” and Alexa will take care of the rest.

News Updates

One of Alexa’s most popular features is Flash Briefing, a customized rundown of the latest news stories and weather forecast for the user’s city. Users can start their day by asking Alexa, “What’s my flash briefing?” and hear only the news that is most relevant to them.

Meeting Room Reservation

In an ideal world, every meeting would last less than 30 minutes and would efficiently cover every item on the agenda. In reality, this rarely occurs. Most of us have also experienced conference room scheduling nightmares like phantom bookings or double-booked meeting rooms.

Smart speakers can offer some assistance with this, allowing employees to check whether or not their current meeting spot is free to use past their scheduled meeting time and extend the booking if needed.

However, there’s an even easier and less disruptive way to do that—using digital room scheduling panels.

3 Drawbacks Of Using Voice-Activated Devices In The Office

Smart Speakers Can Be Disruptive

By its nature, voice-activated technology requires making noise. And in an open concept office or even a workplace with activity-based working, every bit of noise adds up fast.

The average employee is already interrupted every 12 minutes on average, which makes it hard for them to concentrate on deep work. Smart speakers only add to the distractions.

Smart Speakers In The Workplace May Pose a Security Risk

The technology behind smart speakers (natural language processing, artificial intelligence and machine learning) requires the provider to collect and transfer conversation data to the cloud. And in healthcare and legal environments, this is a huge privacy concern.

There Are Less Disruptive Alternatives

It’s true that many employees today expect technology in the workplace to mirror the technology they use at home—at least to some extent.

They want their workplace technology to be modern, convenient and frictionless. They expect to be able to bring their own devices whenever possible.

And for many employees, the desire for a seamless transition between work and home means the ability to use workplace apps.

A good workplace app has all the same functionality as a smart speaker—without the distractions. Employees can get essential information sent to them via mobile alerts, book meeting rooms, request service and more.

The Bottom Line

While many of us are becoming accustomed to using smart speakers and digital assistants at home, they might be better off left there.

It might seem well-intended, but there’s nothing to stop employees from using a smart speaker to change the radio station 10 times in an hour or ask it the latest celebrity gossip. And while employees may still do that on their own browsers, at least they won’t be disrupting their fellow colleagues if they do.

Isn’t it time you tried the Hummingbird workplace app? See what all the buzz is about—request a demo today.


Kenton Gray

Kenton joined iOFFICE in 2002 as the company’s Chief Technology Officer and now manages a team of ten developers and programmers. When we develop a new module or do a major upgrade, Kenton is the one who envisions the project and designs it from scratch.

Capterra Ratings: ★★★★★ 4.5/5