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What is destined for the future workplace?

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The future workplace may not even be a solid place that you can touch, or even if there is a physical desk, it may change with frequency.

Modern technologies, such as laptops, tablets and smart phones have changed how we work. The Cloud has changed it further still.  These technologies have promoted a more mobile workforce – staff no longer need to be tied to a specific desk, after all they can carry the tools they need to do their job in their pocket, handbag, or brief case. Thanks to the Cloud they may not even need to carry anything – just their password in their head, and their knowledge and experience – the Cloud, via whatever computer is available, provides all the material they need.

In the future workplace, the trend towards more flexible working will continue; the era of small offices, in which individuals work on their own is coming to an end.

The term ‘hot desk’ will melt away – instead the idea of using a different desk will become normal.

Co-working is already defining the shape of the workplace for very small companies.  The onus here is on individuals working in a shared space – they may work every day in a specific room, along with many others, but they will not necessarily work at the same desk, or even the same corner of that room.  But they will get to know more people, and share ideas and even swap stories about what motivates them.

In the future workplace, internal design will focus in creating layout that promotes chance meetings, and collaboration –  water fountains, coffee machines, even corridors littered with sofas or tables. The future workplace is about fostering collaboration – the Cloud and mobile technologies has made it possible, but the future workplace will accentuate these benefits.

But the future workplace will not always be a physical place at all – it may exist in virtual space. You may for example tour the plan for a new building, exhibition stand or travel destination in virtual space.

A virtual office could support meetings, when the individuals at that meeting are scattered all over the world.

Augmented reality brings with it the possibility of 3D modelling – holograms illustrating ideas and presentations. Such technology may add a virtual layer to the physical workspace.

The future workplace may be affected by the sharing economy –  empty desks won’t need to stay empty. In an era when a desk came with draws and was laden with paper, it was not possible to share it – not without there being issues relating to privacy.  But in the time of the Cloud and mobile computing, the desk is just a temporary place to sit. So, if you own desk space but don’t need it, why not rent it out to someone else, by the minute, hour or day?  So, the future workplace may entail sharing a desk both by individuals within a company, but also individuals working for different companies.

The future workplace will change the approach of management.  Collaborative tools may become the means by which work is monitored, supervised and is used to coordinate people. It will be analogous to conducting an orchestra, its components, some of which may make sounds that on their own have little structure, collectively creating music.

 

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Tags: Business, Workforce Transformation