The space in which we find ourselves carrying out our work every day affects our performance in more ways than we think. A functional and modern work environment can contribute significantly to the well-being of workers which, as pointed out by Cornerstone and IDC’s 2017 study, is essential for increasing productivity.
Flexible working has become the one of biggest priorities for UK workers in recent years, prompting employers to offer more flexible work models and more creative workspaces in order to have the competitive edge. With this in mind, what characteristics will the office of the future have?
Having a fixed office location will soon be a distant memory. Employees will no longer be sitting at the same desk, working from a single device. Instead, the broader concept of a “workspace” will be established. Employees will have access to an online workspace platform, offering them information such as mail, messages, data, and content regardless of the location or device used for access. Employees will also be encouraged to move from one desk to another on a regular basis, only sticking to one desk when absolutely necessary. This idea of “hotdesking”, as its more commonly known, can help to stimulate creativity and problem-solving skills, while also encouraging more co-working opportunities among colleagues.
As IDC has pointed out, being able to access business information from anywhere, at any time, is becoming essential. Smartphones and tablets with internet and integrated e-mail were the first step, but now the new frontier is represented by corporate communication platforms. Platforms such as Slack, Skype for Business and SharePoint have become integral technologies for work, both inside and outside the traditional office.
Beyond this, Gartner recently identified a series of trends that will define the office of the future. But what are these trends and how will they change the face of the work environment?
1. Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence will certainly have a presence in the office of the future. Routine activities such as reporting will become more and more automated, allowing employees to concentrate on value-added activities in terms of creativity and planning.
The Internet of Things will increasingly make fundamental contributions to the workspace. Sensors and applications already manage smart buildings and help with energy, processing power, climate control and safety. In the future, all of this will be amplified and the IoT will enable many new services, from the assignment of car parks and work stations to the management of new interactive contact points for workers.
3. Virtual personal assistants
Another must-have of the office of the future is machine learning. Increasing familiarity of machine learning algorithms and automation will drive companies to introduce new innovations, such as virtual personal assistants in the office for activities related to training or calendar management. These assistants will be interconnected and integrated into the existing office hardware via systems such as interactive installations, e-boards, multifunction printers and other office support systems.
4. Gig economy
Looking ahead, the office of the future will not only promote talent management, it will also bring internal and external company resources closer together. It will be necessary to rethink the current tools your company uses, given that freelance workers will bring their own technologies with them. This means not only establishing new policies, but also finding ways to ensure consistency throughout the company.
Similarly, organisations should also consider employee comfort levels when thinking about the office of the future. Recent studies have shown that colours, shapes, sounds and air all contribute to our levels of concentration and well-being.
Research carried out at Harvard found that offices equipped with better ventilation systems, more natural lighting and consistent temperatures not only increase employee performance, but they contribute to an employee’s sleep when they return home. In the office of the future, greater attention will be paid to aesthetics, as well as the ergonomic and functional aspect of colours, lights and furnishing, so people can work at their best.
The office environment is always changing, and it’s important to prepare for it. Finding a space that works for everyone might not be easy, but it can make you stand out from your competitors. Get set for the next generation and plan for your office of the future.
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