Great Designs: Technological Advancements in the Modern Office
The modern office has evolved in dramatic fashion, and no doubt due to the evolution of new technologies that have allowed us to work remotely, intelligently, and like never before.
In the latest SEC Interiors blog, and part of our Great Designs series, we take a look at five key technologies that have helped to transform and define the modern office, along with a number of top tips to make sure your office is best adapted to handle the technologies of today.
Technology has revolutionised the modern workplace
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The Office of the 2030's: Top Five Features
Super Fast Broadband
Super-fast broadband and fibre optic cable installation has taken business' performance to the next level. Over four million people now currently work from home, and thanks to the continuous development of these systems, this is only going to increase according to The Independent. The UK Government is continuously pushing for the development of an ever-faster network, in order to keep up with the demands of the modern business world, and you can also expect the current office layout to be turned on its head once the Internet of Things is established too!
Top Tip: Make sure your office is fully connected. Introduce a number of data points and power outlets in all environments to ensure your staff can work and present wherever they are. Even better, utilise intelligent furniture that cleverly disguises the power outlets as part of the design like below.
Intelligent furniture design - a side table with an incorportaed charge source
In case you were wondering what the Internet of Things actually is, Wired.com summarises that "the IoT revolves around increased machine-to-machine communication; it’s built on cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors; it’s mobile, virtual, and instantaneous connection; and they say it’s going to make everything in our lives from high-street to sea ports “smart.”
Super-fast broadband has allowed for the modern workforce to work on the go and faster than ever before, and this will leave every aspect of your life connected, from your car to your fridge. You'll never be able to escape your work now!
Mobile devices now have more computing power than the whole of NASA did during the 1969 Apollo space launch mission says Matt Rosoff of Business Insider UK. It's no wonder that we can now look to these devices to fulfil a multitude of needs, and particularly those involving office work: email, diary updates, video conferencing etc. Laptops and tablet devices are now highly sophisticated machines, capable of processing a variety of complex tasks, and once smart, wearable devices have been generally accepted amongst the workforce, the modern office will then evolve to be a fully mobile hub.
Top Tip: Ensure your workers have access to high speed WiFi / data services both inside the office and out. High speed connections can effectively enable your employees to streamline their workflow, resulting in increased productivity and output. And with the increase in Cloud computing, they will be able to access all their work files, on the go, any time.
Mobile devices have transformed communications
Natalie Burg of Forbes, says "The better that mobile technology becomes, and the more employers embrace the bring your own device (BYOD) to work philosophy, the more deeply connected workers become to their workplaces". This has also had a major impact on general work/life balance, with many individuals now always fully connected to their work - 24/7. For better or worse, mobile devices have transformed the working world forever.
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Office Design: Top Five Modern Features
Cloud Computing Software
Cloud computing seems like a relatively new addition to the world of technology, but in all reality it's been around for a fair while now. Most platforms and networks are based, or at least have the option to be run from these cloud based, storage hubs. This digital frontier opens up the gateway to creative collaboration, giving workers the ability to collaborate in real-time from anywhere in the world. Whilst you're in the office, your colleague could be on the beach, working simultaneously to craft the ultimate document or presentation. This reduces the amount of time spent back and forth, and also allows employees to continue working on documents from different devices, locations and set-ups.
Top Tip: "Connectivity is key" according to Knoll - with the amount of mobile devices, laptops and cloud based software in use, there should be a number of screens mounted around the office, from the kitchen to the boardroom, so that "workers can project their screens whenever they need to share what they’re working on".
A connected workplace is a productive one
Some cloud software solutions are also offered for free, with applications like Google Apps and Open Office allowing all levels of enterprise to effectively compete. Subscription services including popular offerings from key companies like Microsoft - Office 365 or the Adobe - Creative Cloud can be accessed from anywhere with an active internet connection. This allows for an increase in workflow and productivity, and has revolutionised the way work is carried out in the modern office. No doubt this has helped to speed up the odd deadline or two as well...
Cloud based technology and software have removed the need for a fixed based office location entirely. Employees now have the capability to work wherever they want in the world, whenever they want. As workplace laws gradually change, we may see a larger shift towards alternate working opportunities, with more and more employees taking the opportunity to work remotely. There will still be the need for a fixed office base, but this will have to be planned and designed differently now, in order to effectively entice a mix of multi-generational's back to the main office base.
Top Tip: Generation X and Y, along with future generations will look for more of a social aspect in a physical workspace, a place where they can connect with colleagues, whilst also acting as an ideas incubation platform.
So how do you cater for this audience? Make sure you incorporate a colourful break-out area, potentially including an interactive games element like the pool table below to really motivate your employees and to build a strong bonding and co-working area for your team.
Build attractive spaces to entice staff back in the office
Knoll's Robert Strohmeyer says that "Mobile-first workers no longer require (and some even abhor) a permanent desk. At Intel, for instance, many workers – even relatively senior staffers – no longer require their own permanent desks, and instead drop their laptops on one of a number of flexible workspaces on the days when they work in the office." This is the modern way, and commercial interior solutions will need to be tailored to engage a workforce with a variety of different personality and worker types.
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The introduction of social media was widespread, but now it's being utilised by business personnel at companies all around the world. Applications such as LinkedIn and Facebook for Work allow employees to develop more of a human relationship through continued communications, moving away from the colder formalities of email only communication. "The surprising truth about social networks is that it fills the humanity gap many global workers feel in cold, impersonal email chains and conference calls." says Natalie Burg of Forbes. Internalised communications tools can now help to boost worker morale, improving productivity along the way, which is something every company desires.
Top Tip: Introduce informal working spaces into your office, typically referred to as co-working areas. Simple additions like colourful furniture and tables with an integrated power supply for computer and device charging can be an affordable way of creating a variety of go-to collaborative environments, boosting social interaction and colleague communications.
Comfortable furniture for co-working areas
The more we move into the world of digital communication and documentation, the less we need of physical, paper documents and old-fashioned letters. Instead, communications can be delivered instantly, without the need to wait days for approval or sign off of tasks. This has helped to speed up overall work processes exponentially, revolutionising the way we speak to each other inside the office and out.
Technology is always advancing, and will continue to do so at a blistering pace, transforming our work spaces in all sorts of ways that we can only begin to imagine today. That's why a modern office should be designed as best it can with the future in mind. As always, we're here if you need a cutting edge, office interior fit-out solution to help future-proof your space.
Get in touch and take advantage of our complimentary space planning service to find out more. Until next time.
Post by Adam Bissmire-Mullen