Originally published on Medium.com.
It’s certainly an exciting time in regard to office design! What once served as more of a gathering place, is now becoming a destination for experience, a powerful tool for both sales and recruiting efforts, and even as a place for brands to express their identity. Design and technology both play a transformational role in how offices are being used, and are changing the dynamic on what is expected out of them from the new workforce.
So what kind of changes to technology can you be expecting? How do they impact the idea of the modern office? Follow along as we unpack 7 trends shaping the future of workplace technology.
01 | Design forward.
As the lines between AV & IT continue to blur, we see another intersection approaching; that would be design. This aspect already hit hard in the mobile space, with form and function coming together to create the smartphones we all use today — as Steve Jobs would say, they are lickable. We expect to start seeing more of the same type of end user design being incorporated into pro AV space. This means workplace tech will be handled much more like mobile apps, and less like AV or IT. There will be more emphasis placed on the end user experience so things will feel less like they have been designed for system admins. The result will be easier deployment, easier adoption, and a better all around communication & collaboration experience. This will in turn drive the continued expectation of these types of tools in the workplace.
02 | Increased demand for technology.
For years there were few things that would stop the industrial machine from moving forward. If the power went out, you might get a day off work. Water problems? Another day off work. If the phone lines went down however, things still carried on. Oddly enough, skip forward to the mass adoption of the internet —and we have another service that can halt work. Issues with water, power, and Internet all hold the keys to the workplace. That was the first real indication of the importance of technology. Today things are even more complex. Now that we’re all connected through mobile, there is an expectation for always on access to the things we need. Loss of Internet just means a switch to hotspots. This expectation for immediate access, and connectivity everywhere is driving a level of new demand for technologies in the office. Access to these tools is now very much an expectation.
03 | More than just video.
One of the more highlighted technologies is video. Video collaboration has changed the landscape of the office in a major way. This is exaggerated even further by the younger generation who is entering the workforce — the ones raised on video communication between friends on mobile, or through social channels. This generation actually expects that you share more than just video. It’s great to see you, or your screen, but they want to see both.. and they want to interact with it. This is driving new collaboration tools to market that make it seamless to transfer ideas, and interact with one another wherever your coworkers are working from.
04 | Miniaturization & Consolidation
Much of what used to require full racks of equipment and a dedicated room, now can be found inside a small wall mount devices that live behind the display, or sitting right out in the open waiting to be interacted with. We expect to see a continued trend in the miniaturization and consolidation of audio visual collaboration technologies. This change is allowing more non-conventional working spaces to be leveraged for collaboration. What can you expect? Any display in an open area can now become a meeting spot, where employees can quickly (and wirelessly) connect their devices for screen sharing. This type of use opens up more meeting space in offices, and is changing how office spaces are being designed! Expect to see many more open air huddle space, and non-conventional meeting space.
05 | Less cabling.
Speaking of connecting wirelessly, one of the other benefits of the consolidation of AV & IT devices can be found in the wiring — or lack of wiring to be precise. Almost all pro AV equipment today is now connected, and controlled by a single category cable. Instead of dedicated wire for control, video, audio, and whatever else is required, we’re seeing a single cat6 cable being used to connect systems. This means less cable required, and longer distances between head ends are easily achieved. This makes it much easier and quicker to deploy new technology, especially in existing space where running a bunch of new cable and finding a place to stash a rack can be challenging. On the user side of things, HDMI & USB connections are still common — though more devices every year are operated wirelessly. We expect to see this trend continue. Category cable for the back end, wireless for the front end.
06 | Better resolutions.
Of course we couldn’t have an article on workplace technology trends without talking about 4K. Or maybe that was 8K? I think we might be starting to lose track. Let’s just sum this up as more pixels. A LOT more pixels. While many newer laptops have built in displays that push 4K or better resolution, most office displays are still maxing out 1920×1080. As larger format displays continue to drop in price, we expect to see more 4K devices being deployed in collaborative environments. The larger display, with 4K or better resolution allows much more content to be make its way on screen. Of course all of this is dependent on viewing distances, size of room, and size of display. We expect to see the modern workforce looking for these higher resolution displays, especially in collaborative environments.
07 | Hidden tech.
As the AV gear continues to shrink, and displays continue to get thinner, we start to see more consolidated effort to hide the technology in the workplace. But that’s not really what we want to talk about here. When we say hidden tech, we’re talking about creating immersive experiences in the office environment. Dynamic lobby displays. Subtle movement projected throughout the facility. Interactive canvasses. Lighting cues. All things that lose their magic if the tech is sitting in plain sight. These activations are beginning to give new life to the office, making them much more of a destination experience — and in many cases a distinct representation of the brand.
Want to learn even more about what the future of office tech looks like, and what’s working and what’s not in the modern workplace? Come join Bluewater and our friends at Samsung on March 19th for a live industry panel in Detroit where we’ll discuss AV technologies’ impact on corporate culture, and open the floor for even more workplace tech trends. Click here to secure your spot at this industry event.