What does your business need to thrive?
COVID-19 has changed the face of the workplace. Hybrid working models have become mainstream practice, causing many businesses to radically update their technology strategy to facilitate new ways of working. Many have introduced new systems and are consolidating their application estate. This can be a tricky process, as the best technology solutions are often integrated within the design of the workplace itself, rather than added on retrospectively. With new technology also comes the need for behavioural change, something that can often be as challenging as the technology itself.
“One of the things we’ve experienced is that people have not been happy with the office technology experience. They are now looking to invest in better technology to make hybrid, remote and office working seamless.” – Anthony Hammond, Jigsaw24*
So what technology trends should you be aware of as you consider the post-COVID workplace? Here we take a look at the workplace technology which will define 2021.
Our top office technology trends for 2021
1. Really smart buildings
Technology will make our workplaces safer and more efficient. Sensor and motion activated devices will reduce the number of items we touch, bypassing many of the touchpoints that could spread infection. Smart desk booking systems will combine with seamless meeting bookings to create friction-free experiences. Contactless entry systems will be installed for doors, barriers and lifts, allowing employees to enter the workplace and get to their desks without touching the same surfaces as their co-workers. Motion sensor hand sanitiser stations will become commonplace as offices reopen. Motion-activated hand driers, automatic doors, bathroom taps and toilet flushes will be widely adopted.
“10 years ago technology in meeting rooms was all about having a touchscreen that could make the blinds come down and put the heating on. Now you should be able to walk in and proximity sensors do the rest; super-intuitive and fully automated.”
2. Collaborative software
Technology that supports remote employee collaboration will be vital as businesses embrace hybrid working. Interactive whiteboards are experiencing a renaissance as the extent of their collaborative capabilities are finally being realised.
Forward-looking companies will use the whiteboard as the collaborative hub of meetings, with ‘projected capacitive’ touch technology creating a more user-friendly experience.
“We like a piece of software called Hoylu, an infinite whiteboard into which you can bring any content – PDF, picture, video or website. It integrates physical and digital – you can give someone the digital pen and a Post-it note and what they physically draw appears onscreen.”
Combining the best of physical and digital interaction, infinite whiteboards can be simultaneously accessed in person and online.
3. Seamless communication and integration
Advances in audio technology enhance meeting room communication. In a future where it’s unlikely all attendees at a company meeting will be physically present, it’s vital businesses can communicate inclusively and make everyone attending feel part of the conversation.
New speaker and microphone systems are algorithmically designed to better identify who is speaking and amplify their voice, while reducing distracting background noise like passing traffic or microphone feedback.
We all miss the opportunity to walk past someone’s desk and ask them a quick question. That’s why companies are searching for clever ways to create ‘communication touchpoints’. One solution is to seamlessly integrate a communications platform into existing software. This enables multiple team members to connect and collaborate on projects without having to arrange diary appointments or Teams calls.
“The developments in audio technology are just incredible at the moment. It’s one of the fastest, most exciting industries to look at.”
The office of the future
We’ve begun to see companies using technology to their advantage to create flexible and collaborative team spaces. We integrated a cutting-edge Workplace Technology Package into GKN Aerospace’s new Bristol site, a space designed as a major commitment to developing the sustainable aerospace technology of the future through collaboration and nurturing of new STEM talent.
We introduced GoBright building management software for seamless room booking and real-time desk management. Nureva Span project management software and interactive touch screens allow cloud-based collaboration, while Starleaf systems ensure key spaces can be used for effortless videoconferencing.
GKN’s people now benefit from connecting every team member across different spaces, even when they’re working remotely.
We expect to see these office technology trends become increasingly prolific in 2021 and beyond, as companies pivot to accommodate the changing ways we work.
Office technology should connect your people, enabling them to collaborate effectively at work. Do this right and you will create a culture where your employees thrive.
*Jigsaw 24 are a specialist in the next generation of IT and solutions and services.