Shaping the office of the future

Throughout the evolution of office design over the past 200 years, many innovations have been adopted (and sometimes later discarded) in an effort to come up with the optimal work environment to meet the business challenges of the day.

Now organizations are facing more change. The nature of work is evolving due in large part to a convergence of a number of social, business and technological trends. Organizations are reconsidering the role of the office and how it should be best set up to meet the needs of the employees and the business.

May 2020 update

At the time of writing this note in May 2020, the world faces new public health challenges. However short-lived or otherwise the impacts of these challenges will be across the business world, this will undoubtedly provide extra emphasis for companies to innovate new work environments that ensure employees can be productive as the new normal emerges.

Towards a new world of work

In the past, the majority of office jobs were oriented around business processes, and employees could exist largely in their own siloes. Interaction with other functions was minimal. Today, much of that work has been automated and jobs are more cognitively complex.

Much of the work is now non-routine and relies on team-based approaches, which are heavily dependent on collaboration. Organizations now look for professionals who are capable of dealing with increased complexity of work and can apply different ways of thinking.

Organizations that design the office environment around employee needs can gain a competitive advantage. Businesses that will be successful in the future will be those who break down the barriers between people, workplaces and technologies and empower their employees to be productive and creative. Many organizations are already embracing future workplace strategies and adapting office space accordingly. Employers of choice offer a variety of workspace options for employees’ needs.

Offices that feature spaces like coffee bars and cafes allow people to collaborate and have informal business discussions in a casual environment. Hubs are designed for teams to work together and collaborate and for ideation. Private offices, cubicles and bubbles allow employees to tailor their environments to their particular work needs, such quiet concentration, informal meetings or conference calls.

Availability of always-on connectivity via wireless means that work is no longer intimately tied to a specific location. Work can and does take place anywhere and at any time. In fact, this may be the preferred option, freeing employees from the need to always be in the office and to work from other office locations, coffee shops, cafés, airports and from home.

Implementing a smarter office

Tools that help facilitate team-based and collaborative work and social engagement are highly valued, and so the workplace provides a variety of advanced ICT capabilities such as telepresence, conferencing facilities and advanced presentation capabilities that are designed to provide the optimal work experience.

Continued advances in technology have made possible new tools to help employees manage their time in the office to best effect. Recognizing that employees are more likely to be always on and mobile, organizations are leveraging a new class of smart office mobile apps to provide new collaboration tools and allow employees to access common workplace services.

The Orange smart office app allows the employee to access a range of common office services like flex desks, room bookings and other resources such as telepresence services. The app acts as the employee's companion, helping to optimize the employee journey during a day in the office.

Our smart office app also assists employees with functions such as personal identification, location services (e.g., colleagues and points of interest) and parking space booking, thus allowing them to craft their own personal workday experiences. For those who don’t have access to the mobile app, interactive devices can be positioned at salient points, for example outside conference or meeting rooms, to provide access to workplace services.

Providing staff with the environment and tools to meet the increasing challenges of changing work activities is key to both productivity and workplace well-being. Today’s employee has many challenges to deal with, and getting the maximum benefit from time spent in the office must be a priority. Access to office services and the ability to create a unique workday experience must be as frictionless as possible.

Read more about Orange Interactive Office, our modular software-as-a-service-based services that help employees make more effective use of time spent in the office by providing one place to access critical office services and resources.

Gordon Loader
Gordon Loader

Gordon Loader is a specialist in Digital Transformation, with a consultative approach to solving customer business challenges and delivering positive business outcomes.

Gordon has been most recently focused on the Internet of Things and Big Data and Analytics as foundation elements for the data-driven business, enabling organizations to build competitive advantage through informed decision making and fast execution.

He devotes his spare time to family and friends and enjoys keeping abreast of developments in the worlds of business, technology and finance.