Technology
12 April, 2024
The role of technology in modern workplace design
Technology permeates all aspects of our lives and in lots of different ways.

Our use of technology ranges from the obvious (such as using our phones and computers for work and leisure) to more subtle usage, such as light sensors that help to contribute to a healthier working environment.

With all of that in mind, it’s little wonder that the role of technology in modern workplace design has skyrocketed, both in terms of what’s currently possible and considering future needs of the office as well.

Technology

How technology is changing the office

KPMG wrote: “The forces of this change include the proliferation of the public cloud, everything-as-a-service (XaaS), advancing AI capabilities and other evolving technologies. The result will not only reshape IT systems and infrastructures, it will reimagine and redefine the very role of IT within organisations.”

Enabling efficiency, productivity and innovation, technology has transformed how companies operate, from cloud technology to smart devices and the Internet. It not only enables us to do things different to how we may have done even just a few years ago, but it’s also a driver for how we work and the experience we have in the workplace.

Some of the significant ways in which technology has changed and continues to change the workplace are:

Efficiency and productivity

Technology has been creating opportunities for greater efficiency and productivity. It’s not a given that technology will improve processes though. What and how it’s used, how your team is supported in their education of the technology and their use of it, all contributes to its efficacy as well as how it’s designed into your space.

However, when used well, the advent of improved communication and collaboration tools help teams to liaise with one another, track projects and streamline task management to prevent bottlenecks and improve outcomes.

Accessibility and individuality

Tech can be a democratising enabler in the working environment. It allows us to do more intelligent things with communication and spreadsheets, but it can also be used to make the workplace more accessible. For example, it can improve our personal comfort levels for everything from individual health and wellbeing to neurodiverse or disability needs by allowing individuals to adapt their environments on a localised level.

Workplace flexibility

Flexibility is one of the defining features of the modern working world. Whether or not your workplace embraces remote or hybrid working, work is no longer tied to a single desk. Being able to move from one place to another throughout your working day is important for individuals, their wellbeing and for achieving the best results from different tasks.

Hot desking, different seating types, collaborative spaces, open plan spaces, quiet individual spaces, meeting rooms and breakout areas give individuals autonomy in how they work and enable movement.

Together these options encourage movement, which is good for physical and mental health, encouraging people to use the office as it meets individual needs and becomes an inviting space to spend time. As a result, it also improves performance as well as staff satisfaction and reduced stress levels.

Sustainability and wellbeing

Used well, technology can help us to be better in lots of ways, including sustainability. Supporting ESG goals is not only ethically desirable but important for attracting top talent, especially amongst younger generations who are highly value driven.

Forbes notes: “Smart tech and workplace tech are transforming today’s workplace like never before. For example, Bluetooth activation and sensors through AI-related tech that adjusts the workplace atmosphere (e.g., lights and temperature) based on occupancy levels are changing the game. Not only does it help with comfort, but it can also improve your bottom line by not wasting unnecessary energy.”

Ergonomic office furniture combined with smart sensors that monitor factors like air quality and lighting contribute to a healthier work environment.

New ways of communicating

The pandemic escalated an undeniable trend for changing working practices, most notably the rise of remote working. Technology certainly made that possible, and its use has raised an ongoing change in the amount of time we all spend in the office and how space is used. With lots of people realising that there are great benefits to being in the office at least some of the time, most businesses are now settling into a hybrid way of working.

Nonetheless, remote working created a shift in our mindset, making us much more knowledgeable about how we manage remote and international relationships with the use of suitable technology. When it comes to accessing international talent, supporting different staff needs and attracting clients from around the world which might not previously have been so accessible, tech has opened up a lot of opportunities.

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How technology influences office design

The importance of having the right tech in the office to seamlessly facilitate different types of working, flexibility, sustainability and all the other benefits that tech can offer has become much more apparent.

Creating the space, the infrastructure and a strategy for using technology to its best advantage has an impact on office design. Equally, technology itself changes how we consider designing spaces.

How that manifests in the workplace is a combination of:

  • The use of space
  • Office features
  • Infrastructure and future usage

The influence of technology on space planning

The impact that technology has on workplace design, and arguably the most important consideration for businesses to get right, is how space is used. For many, flexible working means that there’s an opportunity to downsize or use their office space differently with smarter considerations. For example, instead of having 1: 1 desk ratio, hot desking creates an opportunity to work differently, reducing wasted space as well as improving the workplace experience.

Office design features influenced by tech 

As you consider what your specific workplace needs are, and how that relates to your technology inclusions, it will also influence the key features that are designed into your office. For example, you might include Zoom pods for private calls, large screens for international company meetings in town hall areas or conferencing suites or feature dedicated working lounges for visiting clients. With space freed up for use in different ways through smarter working practices, you may also be able to consider different features such as a more significant coffee bar, wellbeing spaces, staff lounges and so forth.

Technology and office infrastructure 

Naturally, with an increase in the use of technology in the workplace, you don’t just need to consider the what, but the how. What’s inside the walls and floors is as important as what’s visible, from having the right level of power to the right access points for computers and other items to connect. Getting that right is not just about what you need today but considering what might be needed for the future and designing for the unknown, with adaptability in mind.

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The influence of technology on the workplace in real time

The key takeaway is that technology is allowing and enabling us to work in the way we want, meeting individual employee needs as well as company goals. There’s no longer a need for a one-size-fits-all way of working across companies or within individual organisations because technology creates the flexibility to work in multiple ways to enhance productivity, satisfaction and comfort, which leads to greater results all round – as long as it’s done well. At Maris, we work with companies to deliver workplace environments that are tailored to their particular wants, needs and aspirations. Here are a few examples:

A high-tech environmental ecosystem

One of the most innovative examples of tech in the workplace was with Investindustrial’s state-of-the-art PNAT Air Factory. The filtration system cleans the air coming into the office with a powerful combination of plants and technology. The system has a network of sensors whereby information is returned to a monitor in real time, verifying the quality of incoming and outgoing air and the volume of pollutants removed by the Air Factory.

Helpful technology

Pensions and retirement technology business, Smart Pension, are extremely savvy when it comes to technology, and while systems were in place across the board for optimising functionality, they also used it to add character to their workspace. Perhaps most notably, they installed an avatar to greet guests in reception and guide them into the office.

Enabling neurodiversity

When we worked with gaming juggernaut, Sharkmob, they were particularly focused on creating workspaces for neurodiverse comfort and productivity. For example, it was important that staff members had the ability to control light intensity in their workspaces, close the blinds and adjust their own surroundings to meet their needs. 

Do you want to maximise the benefits of technology in your workplace?

Speak to the team at Maris