Modern offices are more collaborative than ever before and need to quickly adapt to changes. A major reason for these new and ever-evolving ways of working is the growth of technology in the workplace. Office designers are finding innovative ways of incorporating technology into the work environments in a range of industries. A well-planned office design can implement technology to achieve business objectives and future-proof the work environment, thus saving money in the long-term. In this blog post, we’ll look at how technology has influenced office design.
Mobile technology has revolutionised working practices, and this in turn has influenced office design. The days when employees hauled paperwork everywhere are long gone and everything from invoices to contracts can be stored digitally. Workers are constantly on the move and able to access emails and other messages from anywhere, which has inevitably had a huge impact on how offices look and function. For example, remote working is now prevalent and hot desking has been adopted by many businesses to save on space and costs.
Mobile technology has increased demand for flexible working because it has presented employees with a choice over the type and location of their work. Telecommunications giant Ericsson reported that an estimated 6.4 billion people (80% of the world’s population) will be smartphone users by 2021. In the western world, mobile has already overtaken desktop as the main way to access the Internet, with more people using their mobile devices to check information or carry out tasks previously done on computers or physically with paper.
New job roles require flexible design
The growing presence of millennials who grew up with mobile technology ensures that workplaces are changing for the better in response to advancements. Floor plans are opening up and walls are coming down to be replaced with movable partitions. Jobs and workplace structures are continuously changing and it’s becoming difficult for companies to predict which job functions will continue to exist, so many businesses are creating workspaces with built-in flexibility.
Previously unheard of job roles have rapidly developed in response to technological advances, so companies need spaces and furniture that can adapt to new jobs and equipment. Adaptable furniture reflects the need to keep offices current. Some examples include modular soft seating and seating pods that can be adapted to be used for communal or private work. Our award-winning design of Natixis’ Global Asset Management’s (NGAM) new office incorporated adaptable furniture in their open plan office using bench desking, which is finished with acoustic screens and storage above and below the desk.
Interactive Space also oversaw global IT innovator NTT Data UK’s ambitious project, which has a hot desking culture due to 80% of the employees being consultants. We created a truly multifunctional workspace with touchdown spaces, meeting rooms with folding walls and a choice of working areas.
The move towards flexible working has ensured a continuing need for integrated chargers and power points in offices. Powered furniture with built-in power adapters and multimedia capabilities that benefit both employees and clients who visit the offices has become a significant trend. Technology is getting smaller and smarter, and requires companies to scale-up fast for continued growth or risk losing employees who will be attracted to cutting-edge workplaces.
Chairs, sofas and desks are being built with hidden and discreet power points. Helix Property is an example of a company that fitted a bespoke new seating area with wireless charging points. In fact, wireless charging of devices is hot news right now with Samsung’s wireless chargers and new reports that Apple’s iPhone 8 will be the first iPhone to include wireless charging. It is likely to become a popular way to charge phones and mean that staff can be even more flexible in their movements to and from meetings.
Integrated technology can be a catalyst for inspiring and supporting the kind of spontaneous interaction that generates productivity and innovation. Verisk Analytics installed a comprehensive audio visual system including interactive screens with full laptop connectivity. This was complemented by meeting rooms fitted with a room booking system to allow for a simple and efficient procedure to manage meetings. Their Training Room provided an interactive whiteboard and repeater screens to cater for the larger open planned teaching area.
Other uses for technology in the workplace include “touch tables”, which are giant iPad tables that can be useful in meetings. Ergonomic smart furniture is now being developed with technology to warn workers of poor posture. A new high-tech office chair uses sensors uses sensors to monitor exactly how a workspace is being used. It can be paired with a new standing desk that is connected with an app to relay your position and automatically adjust preferred settings as you switch to other work stations.
If you would like to make your office space more tech-friendly, please contact Interactive Space so we can help you get started.