Ask a Baby Boomer currently working in an office setting whether they are working in a high-tech, futuristic environment and they will probably say yes.
Ask a Millennial working in the same space the same question and you will most likely get a different answer. Forty-four percent of Millennials believe their workplace isn’t smart enough and 82 percent say the level of technology available in an office influences their decision about whether or not to take a job.
While the modern workplace is more flexible, collaborative and interconnected than ever before, few organizations have the tools and expertise to fully maximize technologies such as artificial intelligence, voice command and facial recognition, and seamless interoperability between spaces and devices, but the office of tomorrow is well within reach.
Office Technologies Of Tomorrow
Here are three key characteristics of the office of tomorrow and how technology can get you there:
- Collaborative. The employees who make up the workplace of tomorrow—Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025—thrive on collaboration. They want more frequent, informal interaction with managers and they want more opportunities to work on collaborative teams with their colleagues. The workforce of tomorrow is also highly device-oriented, and many younger workers expect to use personal applications and web services to do their work. Offices of tomorrow will invest in tools and platforms that leverage employees’ attachment to personal devices and incorporate them in the corporate structure rather than forcing employees into an unfamiliar enterprise system that will most likely damage engagement and productivity through low adoption.
- Flexible. According to research conducted by Gallup, employees of all ages and generations want flexibility in when and where they do their work. Half of those surveyed said they would switch to a job that allows them flextime, and 37 percent would switch to a job that allowed them to work off-site some of the time. Productive off-site work, however, requires the right tools and technologies. Key components of the office of tomorrow include cloud-based document storage, mobile audio and video conferencing capabilities, and software solutions that encourage collaboration and teamwork but don’t interfere with schedule flexibility and remote work.
- Tech savvy. Older generations might worry about a technology takeover, but digital natives—those who have been using personal digital devices their whole lives—embrace it. Companies looking toward the future should embrace an automated, tech-savvy workplace as well. Artificial intelligence, voice and facial recognition and Natural Language Processing applications such as Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Home Button will play a critical role in bringing today’s workplaces into tomorrow.
Maximizing Futuristic Technology Solutions
As technology changes, the way companies adopt and apply that technology has to change too. According to Brad Sousa, Chief Technology Officer at AVI Systems, office technology adoption has traditionally been product-driven—companies focused on specific manufacturers or single platform solution such as an integrated video conferencing system. To maximize the impact of today’s technology solutions, IT professionals need to change their frame of reference, Sousa said, and focus on consumption instead.
"It's not going to be a single platform, it's going to be a series of ecosystems that have what we call a 'unified workflow.'"
- Brad Sousa, CTO
“I would encourage us to consider how to roadmap a series of user expectations and then based upon the user expectations, which are going to define how a user wants to consume this, then we architect what that solution looks like," Sousa said. "It's not going to be a single platform, it's going to be a series of ecosystems that have what we call a 'unified workflow.'"
For example, instead of investing in a large conferencing system that tethers employees to your conference room, deploy a more agile system that incorporates cloud capabilities such as Zoom or Skype so anyone can join from anywhere and at a moment’s notice if necessary.
“How people align themselves with the technology will be the same irrespective of what ecosystem they're using,” Sousa said. “But the ecosystems need to be flexible enough that if they're on the phone or on an iPad or on a Windows device or a Mac device or in a room or wherever they are, they can all achieve the expectations and outcomes that they're trying to achieve.”