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Genius Spaces: The new trends in office technology

The newest trends in office technology are changing the dynamics of the modern office and enhancing the productivity of a mobile, active workforce. Organizations are changing the way they operate on a day-to-day basis and have shifted from adapting technology to fit their office environment, to changing their office space to fit their technology.

Technology Attracts Talent

A high-tech office environment is an apparatus that companies can use for talent recruitment and retention. Indeed, a 2016 CBRE survey of 229 corporate executives reported that over half believe that maintaining a cutting edge office environment is a smart way to attract and retain top employees. Some of the most modern companies are developing office spaces that are "smart environments," using the Internet of Things - a network of objects that can send and receive data - to maintain a cost-efficient, highly productive work environment.

Using Technology to Boost Efficiency

Office planners today are seeking to automate some of the time-consuming tasks that could erstwhile be used for innovative work. Technology is being employed to alert staff when office supplies are running low, take the hassle out of booking meeting rooms and helping new hires get the lay of the land during the onboarding process.

It may seem far-fetched, but one example of a company implementing these advanced technologies is Deloitte. Deloitte's Amsterdam office building called the Edge, "the most connected office anywhere" can sense when an employee pulls into the garage and automatically assign them a parking space, then assign a standing or sitting desk, if their schedule for the day should require one. Even the bathrooms implement technology that alerts custodians to which paper-towel dispensers need to be refilled or which toilets have been used so that resources can be conserved by only cleaning what needs to be cleaned.

Other companies, like cloud storage company Box, has employed indoor GPS technology to help new hires navigate their Redwood City, California headquarters. New employees can use an app for turn-by-turn directions that guide them to conference rooms, offices, the nearest bathroom, or the break room. Box also uses location-aware technology that tells a printer to print a project only when someone is standing next to it.

Silicon Valley tech company VMware has deployed thousands of "beacons" throughout their corporate headquarters. Employees can find open parking spots with available chargers for their electric cars and open meeting rooms for last-minute meetings.

Office Sharing and a Remote Workforce

Gone are the days of sedentary employees tethered to their workstations by a phone and computer. In fact, recent research has revealed that at any one time, 53 percent of desks in an office space are unused. With all of that unused office space, companies are seeking to cut the cost of real estate in favor of shared or temporary office space.

Office sharing is an innovative cost-saving option for small or start up firms because they can spend capital on research or talent acquisition and not on high commercial lease rates.

Services like LiquidSpace locate temporary or shared office space for organizations that have eschewed establishing a permanent location. By utilizing this tool, organizations can analyze what kind of rooms are used the most, by whom, and for what purpose.

With telecommuting becoming increasingly more widespread, smartphone technology lets an employee stay connected with the office no matter where they are located. Advancements in office technology are also helping companies adapt to a workforce that prefers to conduct business in places other than a traditional office.

Softphone technology lets companies utilize VoIP (voice over internet protocol) phone systems to ditch stationary landlines and instead maximize the use of already-deployed laptops and smartphones by using them as part of the office phone system.

Companies like VirtualPBX allow employers to connect an employee's preferred device as their primary work extension with all of the benefits of a traditional office phone system. Features such as call-forwarding, voicemail, and call recording are all available for use on an employee's laptop or smartphone.

Software such as Slack helps companies maintain real-time collaboration among its employees without the hassle of lengthy email chains. Slack utilizes the benefits of instant messenger, email, and video chatting to help coworkers organize and execute projects, share files, and broadcast on social media. Each department has its own "channel" for team members to openly collaborate, with the option to also have private one-on-one conversations with individual team members. Instant video calling is also available for conversations that demand a face-to-face interaction.

Organizations are responding to the changing demands and dynamics of the modern workforce with the help of technological innovation. Telecommuting, shared workspaces, and mobile technology allows companies to serve clients from anywhere, not just from a central headquarters. As technology and work preferences continue to change, the American workforce will undoubtedly look much different by the end of the next decade.

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Kyle Robinson

Kyle J. Robinson

Director of Research