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« IT'S A TOUCH-SCREEN WORLD, Part 2 | Main | Learning on the Job »


While the hordes of consumers who waited in line for hours to purchase the new Apple iPad were no doubt eager to experience the ease of information access promised by the device, few were probably thinking about its impact on the future of the physical workplace.

Sure, there are already hundreds of apps for managing e-mail, social networks, and documents that will have a real impact on mobile productivity, but the truly transformative change underlying devices like the iPad and its inevitable copycats is the strong new link between content and cognition. None other than Steve Jobs himself alludes to this in his defense of the iPad’s lack of Flash compatibility. The point-click-and-scroll-with-a-mouse world, according to Jobs, is over. Welcome to the intuitive, finger-swipe-and-pinch era of the high definition touch-screen. These devices are so intuitive that they don’t even come with instructions.

But what’s all that got to do with workplace, you might ask?

Plenty. Think back to the last truly transformative workplace technology revolution, the introduction of the desktop computer and its impact on physical space. The golden era of the cubicle. Though it had been invented decades before, the cubicle as we know it wasn’t fully complete until a PC and a CRT monitor sat in its deep corner. Cubetopia.

More recently, mobile technologies like laptops and Smartphones made sitting in a cube for 8 hours a day seem almost as archaic as Mad Men’s staff meetings with cocktails. Work anywhere, the promise went. Do conference calls in your pajamas! Send email from your massage table in Tahiti!

But all those people proclaiming the death of the office might want to think again, for this new generation of touch-screen devices promises to create interactive, team-based work environments that will provide real innovative capital to the companies who are first out of the gate.

And I’m betting that it will have a dramatic effect on what the office looks like. To be continued.

Randy Howder is an associate in Gensler’s San Francisco office and a senior strategist in the firm’s Consulting practice. His particular focus is the evolution of work and the workplace’s changing role in the future. With a portfolio that reflects his diverse skill set, he has helped the FBI, HP, Genentech, Harvard, Chevron, Facebook, and other clients align their workplace environments with their strategic goals. Contact him at randy_howder@gensler.com.

Reader Comments (2)

I couldn't agree with you more, Randy! I recently wrote a short blog post (link below) on how the latest technology/furniture integration from Steelcase is changing the way our employees work and interact.

I too believe that we are about to see a significant change in not only the layout of the office space due to the technology being used in it, but how the furnishings themselves will be changing to actually incorporate the technology.

08.4.2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim McDonald
Electrical office are eh in thing nowadays as they are all paper less and helps save the environment.

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