Office spaces are constantly evolving and innovating – just compare the open plan spaces of today to the cubicle farms of the ‘80s. A large part of innovation stems from developments in technology, and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Over the past 150 years, the office space has been reconfigured several times for different purposes. The open plan arrangements of modern offices reflect an effort to encourage colleague collaboration and a sense of team unity.
Another modern trend is ‘hot desking’, where desk spaces are shared by multiple office workers at different time slots, rather than each staff member having their own personal desk. The desks themselves are even changing, with medical concerns around sitting for 8 hours a day prompting innovations such as ‘standing desks’.
Moving forward, offices are starting to build on these flexible arrangements, catering to the mobile nature of an employee’s day. More versatile spaces are being developed, with more technology being built in, such as wireless charging points and digital whiteboards, which connect seamlessly to workers’ devices when needed.
The Internet of Things is also playing a big role in office development. Smart offices are becoming more common, in which office environments are monitored and optimised by BEMS systems. These systems allow workers full control over their comfort, as well as maximising energy savings made by the business.
As office formality is starting to take a back seat, the line between formal meeting spaces and informal communal areas is starting to blur. Modern offices are already starting to designate areas as informal meeting rooms, removing the potential constraints that come with traditional formal meeting rooms.
Smart technology will also play a big role here, as it can be used to monitor how employees use the building. This provides useful insights into how workers are interacting, as well as providing further opportunities to save energy on spaces which aren’t being used.
Many office developments stem from new technologies. Consider how the introduction of the desktop PC affected the spaces needed to work. Even today, desktop PCs are being forsaken for laptops and tablets, aligning with the idea of flexible, mobile workspaces, as employees are provided with productivity tools, communication options and information wherever they are.
Technology developments are starting to find their way into offices, such as security services starting to rely more on new technologies such as facial and voice recognition.
Augmented Reality (AR) is also proving useful in office settings, for example it can be a great training tool for organisations, providing an immersive experience for employees, as well as being more cost-effective than many current physical training tools.
One of the biggest impacts technology has had on office spaces is the way in which data is handled and stored. Originally, the huge volumes of paperwork which were being produced required supporting infrastructures, in the ‘80s and ‘90s, companies were able to store all of this information digitally.
This has changed again in recent years, with the introduction of cloud-based services. Companies are no longer restricted to storing information in a specific location or even to a specific device.
Moving forward, cloud services are introducing intelligent personal assistants to assist users in finding data quickly, as well as proactively finding relevant information to assist with various business tasks.