Technology goes hand-in-hand with change
Digital transformation opened up more agility in terms of how people worked prior to the pandemic, where every big change in ways of working was in line with ongoing developments in technology. We’re now starting to see it unlock a whole new world of possibilities in terms of where people work and new ways of working we perhaps hadn’t foreseen. It’s no longer a case of turning up, doing your work, going home and repeating that framework5.
Key technology breakthroughs like video calling and cloud collaboration had already begun to disrupt traditional working environments, making space for remote working practices to be a viable solution for many businesses. Now, the way we choose to live is more and more influencing how we want to work. So we can expect things to accelerate to the next level as further innovations go hand-in-hand with creating workspaces that reflect a more lifestyle-based approach6.
We could begin to see spaces being broken up into more purposefully designed areas. Sometimes you might need a quiet space where you can sit down and focus, this could mean the introduction of quiet zones with no phones or talking allowed. Or even special “concentration pods”. Sometimes you might want to have an informal collaboration session - enter areas filled with brain-stimulating toys and technology and digital whiteboards embedded in chairs and tables. Sometimes you might just want to have a casual catch up with a colleague, so are we going see more of an expansion into hospitality-style formats?
And this is only the tip of the iceberg. The innovators of the pack are looking at everything from AR and holographic experiences to virtual workspaces in co-located office buildings. We can expect to see AI security guards and app-controlled meeting rooms. Smart sensors that use real-time data to optimise heat and lighting, not just to save costs, but that also adapt to individual users’ needs. In-built voice and facial recognition services, wearables with mood sensors. Facebook has even been looking at creating a hyper-realistic virtual reality office environment, where workers would interact as avatars using VR headsets7.
When you look at the opportunities afforded by technological advancements in the workspace, you can start to see how it can positively affect and combine key business focus areas like productivity, sustainability, cost efficiency, employee satisfaction and wellbeing.
But, we do need to remember that investing in any technology for your workspaces requires a clear strategy, not just shifting everything you have now into a digital framework.