Trends that are forever changing the landscape of how we work
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Trends that are forever changing the landscape of how we work

22nd September 2020
By Tom Ladle

We’ll try to keep the sci-fi tropes to a minimum when looking at trends that are forever changing the landscape of how we work. With the past few months ushering in a new way of working for many, it begs the questions, will this forever change the landscape of the office and what will this landscape look like? What exciting tech innovations are on the horizon? Are we on the cusp of virtual offices? Let’s get answering.

Office set-up

With coronavirus resulting in obvious implications on how we view hygiene and the measures we put in place, the move towards open plan offices could see a temporary halt. Offices are returning to a layout that combats the spread of the virus, which means separate cubicles and individual workspaces. We’d like to think this is only temporary, but it has led many to seriously question hygiene measures in the office and this will influence future office designs. Assuming it is only temporary, how will our changing views of the office shape the layout? The office is now viewed as somewhere to collaborate. Individual work can take place at home, or in a café or wherever you feel productive, point being the office is no longer considered the haven for productivity.

So, with this view in mind, what might the office set-up of the future look like? Offices will become much less cluttered and much more efficient. With this we can also expect the office to become more comfortable and less formal. They will be designed with collaboration as a key driving force. As our understanding of how we can improve collaboration develops, so will the changes to office layout. Overall, the office set-up of the future will mimic the changing attitudes towards work, with more people choosing to work flexibly the office will have to reflect this also by creating a space that workers can dip in and out of.

A more sustainable office

No doubt, one of the biggest trends that we’re already seeing, and we’ll only see more of is the shift towards more sustainable offices. I think it’s almost universally accepted that climate change is a big problem and for companies to attract the best talent they’ll need to show they’re taking it seriously. Take a look at 10 of the most eco-friendly offices in London and you’ll see just some of the innovativeness on display today, driven by the trend to build more sustainable spaces.

So, what sort of sustainability measures can we expect businesses to adopt in the future? Well, we can expect to see a lot more nature being incorporated when building our offices. This type of design has a lit name as well, ‘biophilic office design’. It involves bringing the outdoors into the workplace, leading to better staff wellbeing and increased productivity. Although, not every business is in the privileged position to incorporate a huge tree in their kitchen.

What we’ll likely see is many businesses taking steps to make their current office more eco-friendly. This includes doing away with plastic, which can make a huge difference on how one company impacts the environment. Take Goldman Sachs for example, they eliminated plastic in there London offices, home to 6000 employees.[1] With such big companies setting a strong precedent regarding sustainability measures, it’s expected that we’ll see more and more offices make similar changes.

Another change is to make the office more energy efficient. This can be as simple as switching out the light bulbs you use, or as complex as decking out the entire outside of your office with solar panels. Fact is, we’ll see more and more offices having sustainability as a priority if they want to stay in line with the changing times.

Office tech

Just like the layout of the office, tech in the office will be geared towards efficiency. We’ll take a brief look at some of the more exciting innovations we’re likely to see soon and how they fit in with the working world.

The internet of things

There’s a term that’s often thrown about and can sound quite vague, that term is the internet of things. So, what does that mean? Simply summarised, it means greater connectivity across all smart devices. We’ve already seen this grow exponentially in recent years and this growth will only continue. You’ll see more and more tech in the office that works in synergy with other tech, in turn creating a more efficient system and improved collaboration (that word again).

Virtual reality (VR)

Picture having a projection of a desk in front of you, whilst sitting at the airport. Virtual reality (VR) will let us bring a desk wherever we go, bringing a whole new dimension to what it means to work remotely. Sure, at first, you might look and feel a bit silly putting on a massive headset to tackle a meaty spreadsheet but like any new form of tech, you’ll get used to it. Also, as tech develops, it often becomes more sophisticated, before you know it all we’ll need is a pair of specs to enter a virtual space. You don’t have to be alone in this virtual space as well, with VR comes the possibility for shared virtual spaces. We’re not too sure about completely replacing face-to-face interactions with virtual ones but the implications for this sort of tech are exciting, nonetheless.

Augmented reality (AR)

We can expect to see a rise in the adoption of augmented reality (AR). There’s been whisperings of utilising AR for many years now, yet it still hasn’t been adopted commercially. This is expected to change as the tech improves, becoming more widely available and use cases increase. So, what is AR? AR is different to virtual reality; in that it uses a mixture of virtual and real-life reality, you still with us? Picture it being used in a meeting setting, you could have a physical meeting room but half of the people attending the meeting are there as a virtual avatar and the other half are really there (trippy, aye).[2]

Artificial intelligence (AI)

We’ll also see an increase in artificial intelligence (AI). One of the main arguments behind AI is that it drastically improves efficiency. Just think about the amount of time you waste on carrying our menial tasks that could in theory, easily be carried out by AI. This will free up more of your time to carry out more worthwhile work, becoming more productive. Many people fear that AI will one day make human work redundant (rather sombre we know) but it can also be used to support human work.[3]

We’ve only started to scratch the surface of what the office of the future might look like and the future is looking exciting! For the meantime why don’t you make the most of the tech of today by checking out our conference call, video call and webinar products!

[1] https://www.raconteur.net/business-innovation/future-workplace-2019/eco-friendly-office

[2] https://www.oktra.co.uk/insights/office-futures-our-top-5-tech-trends-2020/

[3] https://www.wired.com/story/ai-coming-most-mind-numbing-office-tasks/