Cubicles and drab offices are out, and high tech offices with novel amenities are in. Not only are the changing trends in office design meant to enhance aesthetics and comfort, but productivity as well. Remember the days when seemingly every conference room had the same tables and there was but a handful of choices when it came to waiting chairs? Whereas the offices of yesteryear could hardly be distinguished from each other due to being beige, boring, and blasé, more office environments today reflect the core values of companies and are designed with workers in mind.
Here are 10 impressive technological innovations coming to an office near you.
1. Wireless Charging
One of the most annoying things about technology is the mess of cords that comes along with it. This is an issue whether you’re at home or in the office, and though there are gadgets around that can get you untangled, being cord free is so much better for work productivity. Wireless charging is emerging as an innovative office feature that employees are loving. The first requirement is a device that has wireless charging capability, and an increasing number of tech companies are releasing electronics able to do just that. The second requirement is office furniture with integrated wireless chargers, such as that made by FurniQi and IKEA.
2. Telepresence Robots
Robots on wheels are already being used in a number of industries, from communications to real estate, and are especially handy for remote conferencing. These essentially look like tall monitors on Segway-like bases. Other office robots are used to monitor buildings and provide more security. In addition, some roaming robots can interact with customers and employees and perform simple tasks. Imagine a robot getting coffee for a company guest while the human office administrator handles more vital business tasks — expect to see it happening very soon.
3. Discreet Sensors
Some workplaces have already integrated sensors throughout their offices, including inside of employee badges. The point of monitoring employees on this level isn’t just to see who’s taking extra long breaks or playing online games at work, but to get insights on productivity and how to make improvements to the workplace. One company leading the way in this arena is Sociometric Solutions, which collects data through sensor-filled badges and analyzes workplace trends. While it’s neat that a company can tell they need to buy new office chairs because employee badges report a significant amount of fidgeting, there are definitely some privacy questions surrounding this technology. Still, there’s no stopping it at this point.
4. Spatial Computing
You may have seen spatial computing in Iron Man or Minority Report, but this is actually a real thing being implemented by companies who want top of the line offices and attention grabbing trade show and conference displays. Not only does spatial computing make presentations awesome and impressive, it’s very flexible and productive. This technology is already available at the consumer level in the form of drones and mixed reality glasses, and it’s also being used at top universities.
5. Little Drones
You may have heard of the term “office drone” before, but this technology has nothing to do with bored white collar workers. Autonomous, unobtrusive drones equipped with videoconferencing capability, on-board cameras, and technologically advanced screens are coming to more offices. While some business managers may use drones to monitor employee activity, these are most useful for doing things such as delivering mail and packages, cleaning office exteriors, and tidying up on the inside.
6. High Tech Desks
Most of us have already learned about the benefits of standing desks, but companies in the smart office furniture industry are taking it a step further and adding integrated sensors into work stations. Standing desks made by innovators such as Humanscale are built to make computing and office work more comfortable and healthful, and the sensors inside can tell workers how long they’ve been working and what posture adjustments they should make to increase productivity.
7. Blazing Fast Routers
No matter what the WiFi speed in your office is, it’s doubtful that it meets or exceeds 216 megabytes per second — that’s how fast the newest routers on the market are. Offices that make the $300 investment in this technology can greatly improve productivity. There’s nothing worse than trying to send emails, do research, or create presentations in an office with weak WiFi, and now companies have even less excuses for it.
8. AI and AR Software
Instead of devoting precious work hours to answering mundane emails and researching on the web, software that makes use of artificial intelligence can pull data from online, craft emails, and even conduct business analyses to save time and allow workers to concentrate on other tasks. This technology is being implemented in offices in various forms, including AI virtual assistant software.
At the same time, augmented reality (AR) office technology is bringing exciting changes to workplaces, especially in the architecture and real estate industries. AR helps businesses take design concepts, office tours, and presentations to a whole new level. Virtual reality technology is also changing offices by offering an alternative way to provide mockups to clients.
9. 3D Printers
The thought of using 3D printers at the office is intriguing, but it’s not just a pipe dream. As 3D printing becomes more adaptable, useful, and affordable, a larger number of companies will bring this tech into work spaces to sit right alongside the copy machines. Employees at design firms are probably familiar with this technology already, but soon 3D printers will be used in various industries for everything from promotional and marketing items to retail-ready products.
10. Bionic Office Chairs
We’ve all been there. You sit at your desk and fiddle around with your office chair an endless number of times throughout the day, but you can never get it quite right or comfortable enough. The latest office chairs by companies such as Dauphin and Global Total Office automatically adjust to put you in the perfect position for good posture, increased productivity, and optimal comfort. Yes, it’s a good idea to mix standing and sitting during the work day for better health. However, during those times when sitting is a must, having a bionic chair can make working much more pleasant and efficient.