If you’re at work, look around you. There’s a very good chance that, apart from a few less partitions and some improved technology, your office environment doesn’t look all that different than it would have for most of the 20th Century. Thing is, things are about to shift completely. Thanks to technology, you’ll be able to work anywhere, from any device, at any time.
And if you do have to go into an office, it will likely be more flexible, functional, and even fun than your current working environment.
That too will be enabled by technology. Here’s how:
Free and flexible
Think about what would happen if you had to change your current office configuration. It would probably be a massive hoopla. Beyond shifting heavy desks around, you might have to take down whiteboards, reconfigure partitions and re-install cables.
And what about if you need to collaborate on a project with someone on the other side of the office? How many times have you had to negotiate for just a few minutes in an overbooked boardroom.
In the future, both of these things will be much less of a worry.
Borrowing from the hot-desking concept used by coworking spaces, increasing numbers of offices will allow their employees to choose where they sit, according to their needs for the day.
Increasingly powerful wireless internet options and easily configurable office spaces mean that people will be able to adjust the office to their work needs, rather than making compromises based on the configuration of their offices.
Many professions require product modelling. Think about architects, engineers, and designers. In the past, practitioners have had to rely on materials like clay and cardboard for this kind of modelling. More recently, they’ve been able to rely on 3D printing. In the future, these models won’t even exist in the real world.
Thanks to advancements in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), people in these professions will be able to experience and tweak their models on the fly.
AR and VR won’t just be used for modelling though. It also has serious potential when it comes to training emerging professionals.
Moreover, connected AR and VR could allow employees on opposite sides of the world to easily collaborate on projects or even just have (virtual) face-to-face meetings.
It’s likely then, that the office of the future will include a lot more VR and AR headsets.
Few workers today would argue that their office connectivity isn’t significantly better than it was just a few years ago. And where you would once have had to rely on being able to connect via cable to get a decent connection, you can now usually get by using just Wi-Fi.
Thing is, Wi-Fi isn’t without limitations. It is, for instance, vulnerable to security breaches and can’t be used in certain kinds of buildings, such as hospitals. Perhaps most importantly though, the available Wi-Fi spectrum is close to capacity.
Enter Li-Fi. According to Wikipedia, Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) is a bidirectional, high-speed and fully networked wireless communication technology similar to Wi-Fi.
Essentially, the technology allows you to achieve high-speed connectivity using LED lightbulbs. Not only is it more secure than Wi-Fi, it’s also usable in areas with high electro-magnetic sensitivity, including aircraft cabins, hospitals, and nuclear power plants.
Oh, and when it comes to spectrum, Li-Fi has almost no limitations on capacity.
Combine all of those advantages with the fact that it can easily be installed using existing lighting infrastructure, and it’s likely that your office will be connected to Li-Fi at some point in its future.
24-hour office people
The idea of the eight-hour work day is ridiculously antiquated. How dated? It was designed to stop factory workers in Industrial Revolution Britain from working themselves to death.
Thing is, this isn’t Industrial Revolution and you probably don’t work in a factory. Moreover, the idea of an eight hour work day protecting you from anything seems a little ridiculous if you’re having to fight through hours of traffic to enjoy it.
A recent study by Dr Paul Kelley of Oxford University also revealed the nine-to-five working hours are completely out of sync with human biology, posing a “serious threat” to health.
While companies have tried to get around this by offering “flexi-hours”, no one’s really been willing to alter the way their offices work. That’ll change, especially in markets where there’s a serious war for talent.
Thankfully, technology is rising to meet this demand. Increasingly sophisticated project management tools, for instance, mean that you don’t have to be in the office at the same time (or even in the same country) to know that they’ve done the work assigned to them.
Those same technologies, along ones that improve security and access, mean that offices could potentially be open whenever employees need them to be rather than when society expects them to be.
Workspaces for Tomorrow is brought to you by Dimension Data. More information on how it’s helping to shape the offices of the future can be found on the Workspaces for Tomorrow website.