At the dawn of a new decade, there are lots of different ways in which workplace technology is evolving. So many, in fact, that it can be hard to see the wood from the trees and determine what the true direction of travel is.
But in reality, it’s more clear-cut than you might think. That’s because the lion’s share of the innovations and changes coming down the line share one central theme: the connected workspace.
Over the coming months and years, our offices will collectively become smarter, more flexible and better able to take advantage of new technology.
Now, we can’t gaze into a crystal ball and tell you exactly how you’ll be working in, say, three years’ time, let alone 12 months. But we can give you pointers towards five areas where you may well start to see differences this year:
1. Bring Your Own App (BYOA)
There has been such a rise in popularity of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) among workers that it was only going to be a matter of time before the knock-on effects took hold. And with workers’ own devices come the apps installed on them. File-sharing services like Dropbox and basic word processing functions like Google Docs have become particularly handy in working cross-device, especially when used in conjunction with the cloud.
The flexibility BYOA provides can be incredibly beneficial from both business and employee standpoints, but it’s not without risk. BYOA makes it much harder for corporate IT security policies to be maintained; great care must be taken to ensure sensitive data isn’t vulnerable on employee apps and devices.
2. Workflow tools, driven by AI
By now, most of us are used to workflow and collaboration tools and software that make our working days…
- Better organized
But like many pieces of workplace technology, what you get out of them depends on how willing your workforce is to put into them first.
As artificial intelligence continues to develop, however, all that is set to change. Many leading workflow tools are bringing increased AI integration to the table, and are taking away the legwork of manual input into the tools. So with automation taking care of the mundane and the routine, your workforce (and you!) will have more time to focus on what’s important.
3. Smart, hi-tech meetings
Flexible and agile working has already changed the way many of us do meetings. It’s changed:
- Where we have meetings
- When we host/attend meetings
- Who we have meetings with
- Why we have meetings
But in truth, so far we’ve only really scratched the surface of what technology can do for our business get-togethers.
We’re all aware of video collaboration software, but that can now be integrated into wider meeting room, visitor and vendor management that take into account room availability, time zones for remote participants, necessary equipment, catering needs and more. No longer do meetings need to be an administrative nightmare: they can now routinely be a seamless, professional experience managed from a single point.
4. Augmented and virtual reality
It’s been one of the hottest areas of development in the consumer tech space in recent years. But AR and VR are now on the verge of becoming a valuable part of workplace technology, too.
Initially, we’ll see AR being used more widely to overlay information into meetings. Think of video games like Call of Duty or Forza, where the most up-to-date battle or race information is displayed around the edges of the screen. Vital business data can be shown in the same way using AR, making it easier for participants to make contributions backed up by information at hand. No more getting distracted by wading through Excel sheets mid-meeting!
5. Less means more
With each passing year, the circular economy becomes more and more important to office-based businesses. Wasting resources and not re-using and recycling where possible is no longer just expensive, it’s unsustainable for business.
Flexible and agile working, however, can be a huge enabler of the circular economy for your business.
If employees use portable devices like laptops and tablets, and carry them with them to wherever they’re working from, then you have no need for big computers sitting around in your office not being used much. And if you combine this with a strong hot desking policy, then you really can cut down on the amount of equipment needed on your premises.