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Tech Trends of 2016: Designing the Workplace of Tomorrow

Image © Gensler

Editor’s note: this blog is part of a series on 2016 tech trends.

As mentioned in our last post on Tech Meta Trends, today we are kicking off our summer series on the 12 trends emerging in the tech industry’s workplace. These trends were developed by a diverse group of people from across the NW region who brought their unique perspectives, thoughts, ideas, research and writing to this project.

First up, we take a look at how Metrics Driven Design and Devices and Digital Systems are shaping technology workplaces. As metrics become increasingly available and digital devices and systems get smarter, data collection and connectivity are significantly shifting not only our work habits, but also workspace itself. How are these trends allowing for spaces to be Deliberately Experiential–anticipating users’ needs and enhancing their environments? Read on to find out how.

Metrics Driven Design

Data is pouring in from everywhere. Our phones are tracking beacons, our watches are heart monitors, and a simple on-off light switch can now detect your presence in a room. With an abundance of data and observations at our fingertips, metrics have become a useful customization tool and a driver of design and business decisions.

In a world of increasingly seamless connectivity and data collection, technology companies are using real-time information to identify, test and validate new ways to adapt their workplace to improve customer experience, employee engagement and productivity. Key metrics in workplace design and strategic data are being integrated into the design process like never before—from real estate selection to employee amenities and preferences. Data from sensors and intricate integrated systems are helping customize the user experience and improve building performance. It’s happening now and it’s getting smarter.

Anticipatory Design, expected within the next five years, will utilize metrics to create highly personalized and responsive work environments. Image © Gensler

As we look ahead, data with contextual analysis will provide actionable results. Metrics will go beyond measurement by driving a highly personalized and responsive work environment. We currently see this technology in our mobile apps and home devices, but soon, systems will integrate and manage data to respond and learn from building occupants on a much larger and intelligent scale. It’s all about performance. Where you spend your time and when, social interactions, lighting, air, temperature and time of day are all important factors in performance. Algorithms will crunch these data sets, adapting spaces to your needs; creating the same feeling of customization and efficiency as we experience in device apps and websites.

Companies can now use real-time data to drive strategic business and workplace decisions.

Growing workforce expectations for an adaptable, connected, and sustainable work environment will make it critical for technology companies to use metric driven design to remain agile and respond in real-time to work/life patterns and needs. As information gathering technology becomes more accessible, cost effective, and intelligent, companies will be able to use integrated systems to gain new insight into the impact of workplace design—and drive better performance.

Contributors: Brian Corbett, Doug Wittnebel, Lexi Harmon and Natalie Engels.

Devices and Digital Systems

Our day-to-day world is filled with smart technology—devices and digital systems that make our lives easier, more convenient, more efficient. As systems and software improve, will a day come where these devices and systems, aided by bots, take care of our basic office tasks and allow us to focus on doing the things we enjoy, the things we’re passionate about?

It may seem like a big jump…bots joining our workforce, but there was a time before the Internet, before email, before the cell phone—before connectivity. Today, we couldn’t survive without the efficiency and convenience provided by digital systems and devices. They organize our lives at work and at home, connect us at all times, give us a sense of order, motivate, remind us, and communicate with other systems.

For now, bots are simple automated technological operators. In the future, however, we may see artificial intelligence play a stronger role in our daily lives. Image © iconicimage – stock.adobe.com

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the workplace. Companies depend upon the infinite networks and speed of these digital systems. The smarter our devices and platforms get, the more essential seamlessly integrating these technologies into workplace design will become. Workstations will double as wireless charging surfaces; conference rooms will generate meeting transcripts; and bots may save us time by handling basic tasks like scheduling meetings and sending/searching for files or emails. The formats and demands of these technologies will significantly change not only work habits, but workspace configuration itself.

Now that artificial intelligence software has gained momentum and system compatibility across devices is improving, tech companies must consider the investment. Why invest? Today’s workforce, savvy consumers, Digital Natives and Millennials, have perfected their home devices and expect the same level of systems and convenience at work that they experience at home. According to Adobe’s 2016 Future of Work Study, not only do the majority of employees find that technology makes them more productive, those that find their company “ahead of the curve” with technology are found to like their job more, feel more productive, motivated, valued and creative.

Since the capital investment is considerable, workspaces and technology need to be agile and easily adaptable to keep up with and provide for what’s next. Image © Gensler

Devices and digital systems are making our workday easier. They offer data that can help drive productivity and improve building systems performance. They create better work-life balance by offering the freedom to personalize the way we work. And they are evolving the very look, feel, organization and efficiency of the workplace.

Contributors: Becca Knee, Lexi Harmon, Anat Gimburg, Paul Choi, Sheryl Samson and Daniel Pamperin.

Natalie Engels re-imagines the workplace experience. A Design Director and regional leader of Gensler’s Technology practice, Natalie teams with clients to improve their business by designing for the workforce of the future; helping to attract and keep the next generation of employees. Contact her at natalie_engels@gensler.com.