Far from dying out, the office is becoming more essential than ever

Sit-stand_desk_in_officeSamsung recently released a new report which explores how our offices might look in the year 2025. The death of the office has been predicted over and over again, however the Samsung Smarter Futures Report goes against the grain and predicts that the office could actually become more important than ever. Driven by the adoption of smart technology the report claims that offices will become hubs for productivity and collaboration and what Samsung calls ‘Creative Villages’. Smart technology will create devices and systems that take notes, automate admin tasks, organise meetings and deliver information as you need it. This will mean employees have more time for face to face communication and collaborative work. As a consequence, current trends such as flexible working and agile workspace could actually become less of an issue than they are currently.

JP Luchetti, consultancy director at smart solutions consultant Mubaloo, comments in the report. “Future smart technology will be about maximising face-time, not turning us all into remote workers.” Distractions could also become a thing of the past. Interruptions at work are often quoted as the biggest hindrance to productivity. Even when we find spaces of solitude, digital disruptions still occur from email, phone and other communication tools.

Smart technology could be able to identify which messages are essential to your current task. Any unrelated communication would be delivered at a more convenient time. Luchetti concludes, “It will know what messages are mission critical for the task you’re working on right now, and which ones are from a friend asking you out for a drink and can safely be delivered later.”

Teamwork will also become a main component for the workplace as technology will harness big data, bringing together the perfect work teams where each member’s skills complement one another; this could create a super team of workers ideal for specific projects.

Smart systems would identify when team members are free and schedule meeting and time for collaboration. Data can be analysed to show which environments the team is most productive in, the office can then be adapted to create the optimum working area specific to the team and project. Future workplace furniture would need to be more adaptable to allow reconfigurations for different teams, while many different work cultures would develop within a single organisation.

Using this approach to creating teams will undoubtedly be more efficient than most current systems where managers create teams and dictate how they work, often based on hunches to produce the best outcomes.

Smart technology means fewer decisions

Smart technology will mean less decision making from managers. This could be the main reason we don’t see smart technology in our workplaces sooner. The report claims that the main barrier to the adoption of smart technology will be cultural. This is understandable as almost every business has always used a hierarchical system, with those at the top making the decisions. Therefore it will be those organisations that are most adaptable and non-resistant to change that will reap the benefits from new technology.

Commenting in the report, Ben Waber of MIT agrees. “Many will find it very challenging to suddenly think about using smart technology to empower collaboration, rather than as a means of control and oversight. But those who fail to make the change may not survive the next decade.”

Earlier in the year a study by PwC showed that 77 percent of employees in the US believed that smart technology in the office would make them more productive, while 46 percent believed that their company should invest in such technology. This suggests that the majority of workers would be keen to utilise workplace technology that Samsung claims we’ll have in 2025.

It is inevitable that new technologies will enter the workplace aimed at making our working lives easier. While technology that improves communication is extremely useful, most would agree that face to face is the best form of communication. Therefore we can expect the next wave of workplace technology to be aimed at automating tasks, freeing up time for us to communicate in the best way possible.

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headshotLuke Finch is Marketing Officer at SBFI. www.sbfi.com

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