Today, organizations are taking intentional steps towards creating compelling, technology-enabled workplaces to keep up with the needs and expectations of employees. The future of work requires instant communication, enhanced connectivity, interactive digital experiences and even components that support employee wellbeing and productivity.
According to Firstup, researchers forecast that companies will spend between $35-$80 billion on digital workplace technologies in the next few years. Technology will also be a key driver in attracting and retaining talent, especially Generation Z who has grown up in a technology focused visual world. Therefore, the kind of technology offered in the workplace and the ease in which to use it, affects employees’ ability to collaborate, communicate, and innovate; and organizations are realizing they need to invest more in their digital ecosystem.
The technology systems integrated into the workplace today need to not only support those in the office, but those working remote as well. Organizations have realized that working hybrid is no longer just a “nice to offer” thing, it’s become a requirement for many employees. To support this remote or hybrid work culture, cross platform-friendly technology should be considered so work can become a secure but free-flowing activity spanning personal devices, workplace computers, and meeting room video conferencing technology.
So now the question becomes how do we support the technology needs of businesses and individuals today and into the future? Here are three digital workplace trends to consider:
Convert Conference and Huddle Rooms into “Zoom” Rooms
Participating in a video conference call used to be a rare occurrence, now it happens almost daily. Meeting spaces equipped with just a table, chairs and monitor no longer cut it for employees looking to connect with those outside the office in meaningful and productive ways.
We are seeing a trend toward repurposing enclosed meeting rooms and private offices as videoconferencing spaces with the addition of cameras and audio systems that support a variety of room sizes, layouts, and functions within them.
For larger training and board rooms, consider automated cameras that can track a person’s voice, movement or face. With auto tracker the camera can lock onto a person and follow them as they move, automatically switching and focusing on the person who is talking or presenting. This enhances the experience for remote participants, allowing for improved audio and visibility into the conversation. Some cameras can even support recordings and live streaming for events and companywide meetings.
For huddle and conference rooms, unique three-lens cameras can be used to stitch together a 180-degree viewing experience. Participants seated just inches from the display can now be shown on the screen to create a much more inclusive experience for those tuning in remotely.
Plug-and-play camera technology is also a must. These systems require essentially no training and allow individuals to walk into a room and simply push a “join now” button to connect to popular platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, and more. Take the hybrid workplace one step further with intelligent speakers. Meetings can be automatically transcribed for improved collaboration as if everyone was together in one room.
Engage and Delight with Video Walls
The workplace today needs to become more of a destination than a directive. Technology can be used to draw people in with interactive video walls that can serve as the centerpiece for engaging lobbies and communal spaces. The long span of time working from home caused many people to lose a connection to their company culture, purpose and team members, all things people want to gain back.
Video walls offer a high-impact, visual way to engage and communicate with people in new ways. From multi-story crystal LED screens to multi-panel interactive displays for collaboration and information sharing. Software like T1V, can transform a lobby space allowing visitors to connect more deeply with a company’s brand message, history, services, and even social impact by swiping through videos, text and images. Being able to touch and interact with a display in real time creates a unique and memorable experience.
Support Wellbeing with Lighting and Acoustics
Another heightened awareness post pandemic is employees’ needs for physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Architecture and technology experts agree that lighting and noise levels have a direct impact on occupants and their satisfaction within a space. It’s also generally true that natural lighting is healthier for people than artificial light. Incorporating LED lights and motorized window blinds operated through a touch-panel can deliver quick and easy access to lighting controls throughout the day.
Some companies are experimenting with color-tunable LED lights that operate on a schedule to align with workers circadian rhythms – their natural waking to sleeping state. The LED lights can be programmed to change in both intensity and color temperature throughout the day to increase workers’ energy and alertness at specific times. The schedule mimics natural daylight at the start of the workday, decreasing in intensity until after lunch, when it ramps back up to combat afternoon sluggishness.
When it comes to acoustics what you can’t hear can be golden. Sound masking systems have been around for years, but as people return to open office plans after working from their intimate homes, it will be imperative for organizations to reduce office noise distractions and protect speech privacy. How does it work? Small emitters that are the size of a coffee mug are installed in finished or open ceilings to deliver “white noise” that creates a constant and even hum to obscure nearby speech.
So, what is the takeaway? Technology will continue to be a catalyst for organizations to keep their employees productive, engaged and connected. Forward-thinking companies will choose to invest in technology to create high-performance destination spaces for both individual and group work, that draw people to the office and offer amenities they can’t get when working from home. The workplace will continue to serve a purpose for people to come together to innovate and connect to company culture and to each other.