by Tom McNeff
The year 2020 set the precedent for many questions regarding the future of work. Organizations are still struggling to define a plan for 2021. Trial and error through remote work and staggered schedules are just beginning to make sense. While it is impossible to know which design/technology trends will stick, we assume the workplace will include fewer employees, so designs will have to be highly adaptive and scalable.
Closer Connection Between Architecture and Technology
Based on recent conversations with our clients and designs currently in progress, office and corporate space planning will seek to align with how people are now working. For many organizations, work-from-home strategies have proven that a hybrid approach can enable people to remain engaged and productive. Office space design will revolve around necessity where people come to the office only when required to meet the deliverable of the task. While executives will likely keep their private offices, many workers will use temporary space, expanding the concept of hoteling. Conference rooms will shrink in size but will become more numerous, enabling more people to collaborate in smaller groups.
Future designs are likely to include the following key technologies to support the hybrid approach to office space usage.
As offices are designed with a greater number of hoteling spaces and huddle rooms, and with the hybrid approach to occupancy, integrated scheduling systems will become more prevalent. Additionally, integrated scheduling solutions enable one-button meeting join in conference rooms and the ability to automatically free up the reserved space for no-shows.
Unified Communications and Video Conferencing
Unified Communications platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have gained mission-critical status for many companies during the pandemic. With projects and planning resuming, many organizations are struggling with extending these traditionally desktop applications into conference and huddle spaces while maintaining ease of use and interoperability. Solutions such as VisionPoint’s UNIFY help navigate the sea of options and deliver right-fit technology and user experiences for clients.
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
Many organizations are phasing back employees. By reducing surface contact by end users, we are creating safer spaces for collaboration. Leveraging the in-room microphones, camera and speakers by the BYOD laptop is also becoming more pervasive in many designs. However, space and technology planners are finding that a mix of both BYOD and appliance-based collaboration may be required depending on the type of space and who the users are.
Solutions include those that enable a user to control in-room technology with their personal smart device by simply scanning a QR code. Other solutions such as ceiling microphone arrays and disinfecting UV light fixtures will also be considerations in office designs moving forward.
Capturing relevant metrics such as the number of people in a room and details on room usage will help companies adhere to new workplace guidelines and will deliver data important to future workplace space and technology planning.
Tom McNeff is director of sales at Branch Technology (A division of VisionPoint LLC) and VisionPoint LLC.