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The modern workplace has undergone dramatic changes. Digital platforms have had a massive impact on the way we work and how we use our offices. We’re now in an era where the workplace has become a mix of the digital and the physical. The modern worker is intrinsically linked to technology. For many, the daily commute to work is spent staring at their smartphones. It’s a portable office – you can check emails and edit documents. Imagine how different the workplace will look ten years from now. There are some key areas that are very likely to reshape the workplace of the future.
Workplace structures and tech
Every facet of business is now driven by technology and data. In the future, communication within the workplace will be completely streamlined. There are a growing number of open platforms, like Slack that allow for instant communication and collaboration. Emails will still be used in the future, but software will evolve to allow a more personalised experience for workers.
You can forget the corporate ladder, too. The workplace will likely shift away from hierarchies. Employees will be able to have instant conversations at any level of the organisation. Due to the demand for a more flexible working environment, companies have started incorporating more ‘grid-like’ structures. The workplace simply isn’t what it used to be. Teams are often dispersed across various locations and work remotely. Career paths have become more fluid and the 9-5 routine is no longer as rigid as it once was. These factors have altered the corporate latter, making it less hierarchal and more fluid.
As a result of technology, there will be a whole wave of new jobs. The future workplace might involve operating artificial intelligence, and some jobs could be replaced by it. The hotly touted Internet of Things (IoT) could create a more connected work environment through easy access to data. There are a number of emerging devices that could create a smart workplace, for example, Google’s Nest thermostat enables you to crowdsource the ideal workplace temperature. The device learns what temperature you like. No more office disputes about whether it’s too hot or cold.
Another trend guaranteed to reshape the workplace is 3D printing. The world’s first 3D printed office building is in Dubai and was constructed in 48 hours and printed in 17 days. This could mark the beginning of a transformation in the way offices are designed. Also, 3D printing could allow employees to mould their office furniture to meet personal specifications. The thought of no more wobbly chairs and creaking desks is a joy for many people. Shape-shifting furniture and 3D printed offices are a long way off from being commonplace, but the workplaces of the future promise to be innovative and high-tech.
Future offices are likely to have smarter and healthier environments. A Harvard study revealed that employees perform better in offices that have good ventilation and more natural light. Expect smarter technology, such as improved apps and wearable tech that shows which areas are busy or quiet. These factors could lead to more open office environments. We are likely to see more offices designed to foster our creativity and amplify our performance. Tamara Brisk, managing director of Wirescore France believes, “Our work spaces of the future will provide different environments for different phases of work – like protective insulated cocoons for periods of deep concentration.” Changes in the office environment are being shaped by the expectations and habits of millennials.
By 2015, 75% of the global workforce will be millennials. The millennial generation, born (approximately) between 1980 and 2000, value community and collaboration. An open layout provides easy interaction with colleagues and better group work activity. However, it’s possible we might see the emergence of hybrid environments. These would provide a mix of open and enclosed spaces. Perhaps companies will give their employees the option of working individually or with colleagues in collaborative, open rooms.
There will be an increased emphasis on mobility. Being tied to a single desk space will become a thing of the past. People will be encouraged to move around and work in different areas throughout the day. Hotdesking is already a popular trend in work offices. It’s a system where employees can sit wherever they want rather than being assigned to a permanent desk. Hotdesking optimises space and creates more flexibility in the office.
Another feature that is destined to change the workplace is solar energy. There’s no question we will start to see more buildings being powered by solar energy. The Edge of Amsterdam building is already making the most out of it. According to the British rating agency BREEAM, the Edge of Amsterdam is the greenest building in the world. The Edge generates more electricity than it consumes due to the use of LED solar panels. These panels are packed with sensors that track temperature, movement, light, and humidity. The building is fitted with 28,000 sensors.
Traditional workplaces will soon become outdated. Hybrid environments, green spaces, and data-driven offices are the future. Businesses will need to adapt to the changes to stay ahead. They will need to design a workplace that promotes inclusiveness, collaboration and flexibility. There are exciting things to come for the workplace. Modern technologies will help companies get work done faster and better.
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