As companies increasingly compete for talent, they find having a technology-enabled workplace improves employee satisfaction and retention. A decade ago, interior office construction budgets allocated only 7% for technology costs. Now that figure averages 25% or more for a typical office build-out as companies focus on creating appealing and efficient work environments.
With more Generation Z and millennials working, it’s natural they want their workplace to incorporate the same technology they use at home. Offices designed with technology in mind enable employees to work seamlessly, which promotes collaboration and improves productivity. Increasingly, today’s offices feature connectivity with cloud sharing sites, video conferencing and easier access to company systems through personal devices.
Some new trends in office design and technology include:
- Dynamic furniture – Technology-enabled furniture can enhance the work environment and increase efficiency and collaboration. Over the past few years, ergonomic chairs, sit-stand desks and furnishings that promote digital connectivity and collaboration have moved from trendy Silicon Valley companies to office settings across the country. Furniture design focuses on adaptability and functionality, with more USB ports and outlets added and less storage for paper files.
- Space utilization – The internet of things (IoT) and machine learning will soon turn static office space into a responsive workplace environment. Smart sensors will collect data on how workers use the space and then analyze the data through machine learning. This will help determine how the space can be reconfigured for optimal usage or to encourage employee behavior or social interaction in the workplace setting.
- Augmented and virtual reality – Augmented and virtual reality (VR) is being used in recruiting, employment testing and training. To promote employee wellness and relieve stress, immersive VR micro-experiences allow users to virtually transport themselves for a mini vacation for the mind. More workplace applications are in development, with VR hardware revenue expected to exceed $8 billion by 2018.
- Robots – Maybe they aren’t taking over the world yet, but robots are easing their way into the workplace. The University of Birmingham in England is testing an office manager robot that greets visitors, checks employee attendance, monitors the office space after hours, and manages environmental controls. Research firm Frost & Sullivan estimates that by 2020 there will be 26 million robots, drones and driverless cars assisting business operations in factories, distribution centers and warehouses.
 “Top 5 Workplace Trends for 2017,” SpaceStor blog, Jan. 9, 2017. Available at: http://spacestor.com/top-workplace-trends-for-2017/
 “10 Workplace Trends You’ll See in 2017,” by Dan Schawbel, Forbes, Nov. 1, 2016. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2016/11/01/workplace-trends-2017/#7fcc2af356bd
 “Trainee robot office manager Bettie starts two-month trial as artificial intelligence enters the workplace,” by Kristie McCrum, The Mirror, June 15, 2016. Available at: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/trainee-robot-office-manager-betty-8196688
 “The Future of Mobile Robots,” research report listing by Frost & Sullivan. Available at: http://www.frost.com/c/5048246/sublib/display-report.do?id=NE5C-01-00-00-00
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