The New Office Landscape: 5 Ways to Upgrade Your Workplace Tech

May 13, 2015 by



Cora Lewis

Haworth’s Bluescape is a cloud-based software that turns an office space into a Minority Report-style interactive work surface.

Courtesy Haworth

The cloud will put you on cloud nine, Dropbox will have you thinking outside the box, and tablets are just the thing to keep your company from seeming set in stone. Such are the promises of new technology. But what are the easiest ways to actually incorporate these new programs and robots into workplace culture? Here are five.

1. Humanize it

RoomWizard lets employees easily book conference and meeting rooms.

Allowing employees to use personal devices, whenever possible—phones, laptops, and other technologies—helps soften sometimes rigid corporate requirements and atmosphere. New office interfaces, such as the web-based RoomWizard, a streamlined room-booking program, can also give workers more control over their schedules. Teknion’s Powermat creates a central charging station for everyone’s electronics at once, making a new space for social connection out of the need for power connectivity.

2. Get schooled

Julian Treasure of the Sound Agency talks the pitfalls of the open-plan office at a TED conference in 2009.

Courtesy TED

Digital education offerings and classes are easy ways to continue training and knowledge-building without relying on night school or inconvenient and time-consuming continuing education programs. Sharing online keynotes, lectures, and conference videos are a good way to stay up to date in a field without costly travel — and a resource for the whole company. The popular, viral TED Talks are a good place to start for this kind of general self-enrichment. Coursera, Open Courses, and the Open Learning Initiative also offer valuable services in this vein.

3. Flex that work schedule

 Arup uses Pexip Infinity to connect just their 11,000-person staff but also their clients.

It’s well known that tech has made going into the office less and less necessary. Between video conferencing, telecommuting, and other mobile technologies, employees needn’t even be in the same country anymore to effectively collaborate. The key, then, is to maintain a balance between check-ins and independence in workplace culture. Skype, Polyvision’s Thunder virtual flip board, and Google Hangouts are all leaders in the field when it comes to this kind of remote-communication app, though Periscope is also gaining followers in and out of the office. And technologies like Pexip Infinity and others extend the conference room across the virtual sphere, allowing for seamless collaboration around the world. 

4. Private eyes

With increased use of technology frequently comes a loss in office privacy. Shared office chat or email software such as Slack can give employers unprecedented access to workers’ email and data. For that reason, transparency about office policies regarding personal vs. public use of devices—and clear accountability at every step of the office hierarchy—are becoming more and more essential. Intra-office password-saving programs, such as Mitro, can draw clear lines regarding access.

5. Pick your platforms

Punkt’s discreet ES01 extension socket

Common sense tells us that the right tool cuts down on work and effort, but it’s equally worth noting that the wrong tool can eviscerate productivity. Choose carefully when considering introducing a new office communication platform or memo service, social media forum or mobile working policy. Reviews, like this one of the design group Punkt, which hides unsightly electric sockets, can also save office managers time in making decisions. While some new tech will no doubt streamline your workplace (there are those who swear by Google Docs or their pet analytics sites), others will bring nothing but headache and heartache. In the end, retro face-to-face communication with office workers will likely tell you which is which.

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