Earlier this week, a listicle on Mental Floss dug into the future of workplace norms and the expectations some have for offices within the coming years. As a consulting firm with experts in AV/IT/Security design, our viewpoint is a bit different compared to the average reader. After all, we teach classes on the future of office design!
When looking at the article, I couldn’t help but notice a mixed bag of predictions that are either already here, inevitable, or downright impossible. Most of the examples provided by Mental Floss are in offices today, and it merely boils down to what a company is looking for and what best compliments their company culture. Here’s a what’s what straight from the horse’s (well, AV consultant’s…) mouth!
- Keyboard obsolescence — already here!
Anyone who’s listened to a Podcast or two has heard ads for Dragon Software. They even have a mobile interface available on their site. As for the motion control of PCs, look no further than what Leap Motion is doing these days.
- Health Monitoring — already here!
“…bikefit, hikefit, yikesfit, weeeeeeefit, woahfit… find your fit!”
Fitbits, wearable pedometers, and even apps on one’s phone can provide countless ways for a user to track their health.
- Goodbye Desks —already here!
This is the age of open offices. Sit-to-stand desks, collaborative spaces, break out rooms…all of these are must-haves for a typical client looking to re-imagine the experience of coming into work each day.
- Hello Pods — already here!
As mentioned in Jeff Fullerton’s blog post, open offices can pose a challenge to creating an ideal workspace for different personalities. Pods could be a potential solution. But, AV/IT/Security wise, pods do not pose any particular issues or challenges, and are already used in many offices today.
- Coffee on Demand — already here!
Sure, there are corporations providing a kind of “coffee robot” service to its staff, and if that’s what feels right for their company culture, have at it! But, technically, hasn’t coffee always been on demand? Especially when someone can fill up and plug in a Keurig into an empty outlet?
- E-White Boards — already here! (for decades)
Ever since SMART Technologies’ launch of the SMART Board in 1991, companies have been able to electronically connect their employees to presentations which used to need an overhead projector to accomplish the same graphic impact. Now, with wireless interfaces, people can simply walk in a room, open a GoTo Meeting, and use a stylus to go to town on each slide presented to clients and coworkers alike. Although the graphic quality is different, the basic use and function of e-whiteboards have stayed the same for a quarter of a decade.
- End of passwords— already here!
Fingerprint recognition has been a standard feature on the last few iPhones. Although this technology is possible, and already exists in some workplaces, it can be seen as a nuisance. Depending on the device used, people trying to gain access to an area need to place their hand just right to be recognized. It ends up being much more frustrating than carrying around a keycard or remembering a passcode.
- Wireless pants — inevitable(?)
Sure, the headline sounds a bit crazy, but the British Army is already working on this.
Making this commercially available to people boils down to weatherproofing the fabric as well as making it cheap enough for clothing designers to use. As time goes on, new technologies tend to become more available to consumers, more reliable, and less expensive. This fabric just might be an inevitable addition to your wardrobe.
- Posturing — already here!
Posturing is all about how your body is positioned, and therefore what your body is positioned in. Standing desks and ergonomic chairs are already huge parts of modern offices.
- Later elevators — impossible
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires buildings, especially ones that are renovated or newly built, to be accessible for all people, no matter if they are able-bodied or not. Elevators are a key component to making large, multi-storied structures ADA compliant. Unless if the ADA is torn up and thrown out the window, there will not be any changes to the need for elevators any time soon.
- Crossing paths — already here!
Although this topic has more to do with office layout than technology, the introduction of wireless capabilities to offices can make this design initiative that much easier. Worrying about accommodating bulky servers and yards of wires can allow a company to focus less on accommodating machinery and more on accommodating the needs of their people.
- 3D printing — already there!
3D printing is taking over how we look at problems and their potential solutions. In fact, The Netherlands recently unveiled a structure with a façade created entirely from 3D printers!
- Third space — already there!
Again, a lot of this boils down to the push to have open offices encouraging a more natural collaborative effort among employees. Having flexible bandwith, strong wireless signals, and thoughtful layouts can encourage staff to use these more informal spaces.
- Natural Surroundings — already there!
Garden walls are becoming a steady trend seen in office design, especially in public areas.
- Remote you — inevitable (?)
Sure, why not?