Ciara Keeling, CEO of Bruntwood Works, explores what’s in store for workplace tech in 2020 and the hottest trends businesses need to look out for to stay ahead of the curve.
Technology is key to collaboration
Workplace technology developments are constantly evolving, enabling new work practices, greater mobility and virtual working. By 2020, 50% of the UK workforce is expected to be working remotely and technologies are ensuring that in spite of this we remain connected. Resources such as cloud computing are removing the barriers to allow companies across different offices or even countries to collaborate seamlessly. In 2020 we can expect more video conferencing, real-time translators and even smart glasses and other wearable computers to emerge.
Modern workspaces, for example, Bruntwood Works’ connected buildings are fully equipped so people can work and access their secure networks anywhere in the building. As part of Bruntwood Works £50m Pioneer transformation scheme, we’re creating a variety of new, vibrant spaces for customers to work from, including independent coffee shops, coworking spaces and roof terraces. All of which are remote-worker friendly and encourage a sense of collaboration and community.
One of our newest additions is the podcast booths installed in our Pioneer buildings which offer businesses the opportunity to curate their own content without paying for expensive recording studios.
Achieving a health tech balance
Wellbeing at work is not a new idea, it’s proven that a happy and healthy workforce drives productivity and profits, but we expect an even bigger push on the wellbeing agenda in 2020. Sensor technology will be one of the key drivers in this area. At our Manchester-based workspace, 111 Piccadilly, which will be the UK’s first Platinum WELL certified building, we’re using sensor technology to monitor air quality such as Co2 levels. We’re also introducing a circadian lighting system, which is designed to create a natural environment regulating a 24-hour cycle of sleep, wake, hunger, alertness, hormone release, and body temperature. We expect to see a wider roll-out of wearable technology sensors in the next 12 months, which will monitor everything from our stress levels, to how good our posture is and even whether we’re spending too long at our screens.
Adopting a people-centric design to workspaces is key to creating a healthy work environment. We know workspace design is certainly not a one-fits-all approach. People need spaces to think, spaces to focus, spaces to create and spaces to collaborate in – which is why offering a variety of different break-out zones, focus booths, coworking areas and private pods is vital.
Sustainability remains top priority
Sustainability will remain high on companies’ agendas as we move into 2020. A study by HP found that 61% of people believe sustainability is mandatory and 58% said environmentally conscious practices are key to engaging the future workforce. At Bruntwood, we became the first UK developer to pledge to be net zero carbon by 2030 and continue to strive to maximise energy efficiency in our buildings. We’ve started to introduce reverse vending machines in our buildings, offering rewards such as charity donations or discounts across our retail portfolio, to encourage and incentivise recycling. Advanced photovoltaics are also being fitted to many of our rooftops to generate sustainable energy, which will be used to help power our buildings.
AI set to reach new heights
Artificial intelligence and big data is set to continue to fuel businesses in 2020. Smart buildings will evolve into smart workspaces offering the ability to detect usage of facilities, control lights to save energy. Bruntwood Works is in the process of incorporating AI into our customer experience. For instance, we’re bringing in automated technology for meeting room bookings, car parking bookings and security access, as well as using it to locate customers who are alongside each other and those who can collaborate and benefit from working together.
Voice technologies, such as Siri and Alexa, are now commonplace in households across the country. From smart speakers to phones to virtual assistants, we use them without even thinking about it. Businesses are also set to take up this trend to help automate and simplify routine tasks. US company, Salesforce, has a voice-AI assistant called “Einstein” that can pull data during meetings to give employees a daily briefing with notes from the meeting and tasks to be completed. We expect to see a lot more voice-AI in 2020 now that Amazon is rolling out Alexa for business.
As we move into 2020, there will continue to be a highly competitive job market and companies need to embrace and embed new technologies that will help them attract the right talent and give them that all important edge over their competitors.