The march of technology continues to see our workplaces reimagined, making the spaces we work in more flexible, enjoyable and efficient than ever, writes Paul Bamber, director of technology at Bruntwood. In the race for talent, businesses that embrace the latest advances have a definite edge on their competitors.
So, what does 2019 have in store for the role of tech in the workplace? Here are our hottest trends to look out for.
Out with email
Making sure workspaces and working practices adapt to the needs of the next generation of employees is vital. And that could mean the end for internal e-mail. We can expect to see online collaboration tools and applications such as G Suite, Slack and Salesforce gaining impact – allowing much more specific and effective communication in the office.
Modern workspaces need to be built to provide maximum mobility and choice. Connected buildings ensure that, no matter where a person’s work takes them, they have the digital connectivity they need. At Bruntwood, our connected building solutions offer the ability for people to work anywhere in the building, so if a customer chooses connectivity in their suite, they can access their secure network from the lounge, meeting room or even up on the roof terrace.
Expect to see workspaces getting smarter. Smart Internet of Things workspaces will finally start to replicate smart homes, whether it’s for more efficient and personalised lighting and temperature, assigning parking spaces, or automatically releasing unused meeting rooms, the connected workspace will enable us to be ultra-efficient.
Using sensors can provide data on noise, light levels and temperature which allow companies to direct employees feeling the cold to a seat on the warm side of the office, or to a quieter space when they need to focus. It’s amazing how positively people respond to these personal gestures. The popularity of this technology will soar.
Wayfinding and navigation
Flexible workspaces have given us the freedom to take our work mobile. It’s common to move from space to space and now wayfinding technology is helping to ensure we’re moving in the right direction. Wayfinding systems let workers use an app or digital display screen to quickly find a space to work, locate a colleague, or find their way around an unfamiliar building. In 2019, Bruntwood is looking to enhance our connected building solutions with an additional layer of connectivity including beacons for wayfinding.
Voice search will become the norm in 2019, with voice assistants becoming a regular workplace fixture. There are some really interesting developments in the market which will make the process of logging a facilities management call, for example, or even getting qualified legal advice, seamless – thanks to voice assistant technology.
Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality will continue to disrupt the market. Mixed Reality, which is sometimes referred to as Hybrid Reality, is the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.
This has the potential to transform training in the workplace, making it more integrated and engaging. It can significantly improve the quality of training, reduce overheads associated with onboarding new starters and add a whole new dimension to onsite health and safety training. The possibilities are endless.
Next generation AI and ML
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have become so sophisticated that it’s almost impossible to think of an industry that won’t benefit from this technology in the future.
AI is already interacting with our workplaces in lots of ways and is even being employed to help design office spaces; informed by data on employee preferences, AI is being used to develop the perfect workspace solution through computer modelling.
Workspace wellness tech
The use of wearable technology aimed at altering our behaviours to improve wellbeing in the workspace is also on the up.
Sensors can now monitor everything from our stress levels, to how good our posture is and even whether we’re spending too long glued to our screens. Expect to see a wider roll-out of wearable technology programmes in the next 12 months.
Battery storage technology looks set to strengthen its presence in the energy market and it’s already being used to power workspaces. The cost and feasibility of implementing lithium-ion batteries has changed markedly in recent years, making commercial energy storage viable.
Last year Manchester Science Partnerships installed a Tesla Powerpack System at the Bright Building on Manchester Science Park. This renewable energy technology will enable the Bright Building to become an energy island – completely self-sufficient and operating without reliance on the National Grid.
These concepts that, not that long ago, would have been restricted to the pages of a science fiction book are now a very real, influencing factor in our workplaces. As we progress through 2019, they will continue to transform the way we work and the places in which we work.