For the office to have a future, it must offer employees added value. Collaboration software and a laptop are no longer enough to be effective and productive in and out of the office. It has to be completely rethought.
Over the past year, many have seen the office move to the kitchen table at home from one day to the next. What was initially unfamiliar has now become part of everyday life – many people no longer want to do without the flexibility and freedom of choice that the home office brings with it. According to a current Cisco study, 86 percent of those surveyed would like to have more personal responsibility in determining how and when they work in the future. But what does that mean for the future of the office?
One thing is clear: in a hybrid working world, the office has become obsolete as a pure place to work, because this is now also possible in the home office. In order for the office to have a future, it must therefore offer employees added value. It has to be a place that encourages creativity, collaboration and participation – employees like to use it because the equipment and offers tailored to them, as well as the culture, make certain work easier.
The office, a place of collaboration
As the duration of remote work increases, the employees miss the social interaction with their colleagues. One reason to pay a visit to the office in the future will therefore be personal collaboration and creative exchange with colleagues. It is important to pay attention to the necessary requirements for hybrid work so that remote workers can optimally interact with employees on site. This prevents them from feeling like a second class participant. This is achieved, for example, through solutions such as the Webex Room Panorama.
Individuality as the basis of the office concept
But not only employees in different locations need to be brought together. The office also has the task of supporting different work tasks and styles. An atmosphere must be created in which every type of work feels welcome and is happy to devote themselves to their work – supported by innovative offers geared towards individual needs. The more personal and changeable the work environment, the more comfortable employees feel. Some prefer a place where they can work in peace: for example in the form of focus rooms. Others, on the other hand, need daily exchange and contact with others. This also requires a room that is designed accordingly and takes creative exchange to a new level. Therefore, in addition to rooms, that serve a dedicated purpose – for example focus rooms – also so-called multipurpose rooms. Despite their specialization, these should be able to be flexibly adapted to the respective usage scenario, such as co-creation, training or events.
Up until now, work environments have mainly focused on the function and role of employees. Today, however, the focus is primarily on the type of work and the person. For this concept to be successful, it must also be reflected in the corporate culture: hierarchies and old structures need to be broken up and a culture of trust established.
The place that increases company identification
All of this contributes to another important function of the office: identification with the company. The office is the place that motivates employees to work for the company. In the evening you should leave the workplace with the certainty why you absolutely want to work for this company. If an office reaches this level of enthusiasm, then the planners have done everything right.
Modern sensors for room planning
For an office concept like this, a lot has to be considered from a technical perspective. An important aspect is the uncomplicated use of space. Employees should be able to book the rooms they need for their appointments quickly and easily. The best way is conveniently via smartphone, ideally supported by AI, which automatically recognizes the respective needs and books rooms. In any case, the thought should: If I get the meeting, creative or focus space that I need today, the employee shouldn’t be on the way to work. Sensor technology can help here.
With the help of appropriate sensors, the number of people who are in a room can be recorded and employee flows can be analyzed. Such a sensor system is already integrated in the Cisco video room systems, for example. The functions guarantee optimal data protection and a high level of security, as all information is recorded anonymously. The data obtained can be used to analyze the occupancy and occupancy planning of conference rooms. But such data is also valuable for planning or expanding focus and creative spaces. In this way, the meeting rooms can be adapted to the load and usage activity. The findings from the analytics also facilitate the necessary modifications to comply with physical distancing requirements and safety regulations, which are necessary due to the current pandemic. The air quality can also be measured with appropriate sensors.
Cisco offers solutions and support
It is important to start thinking now about how the office should look in the future. A qualified partner like Cisco will help identify the best options for financial firms and navigate through the choices available. In order to make such a project a success, it is crucial to involve the right people in the company. This includes both facility management and those responsible for HR and IT.
An external partner such as Cisco acts as a coach and mediator between the parties and thus accelerates decision-making. In order to be able to provide optimal support, Cisco and the interior decorator Vitra have teamed up and developed various concepts that meet both the technical and spatial requirements of the “New Office”. You can see exactly what this looks like in the Vitra Workspace in Frankfurt.
Conclusion: the office will last
The office will endure, but its function will change completely. It is the place where everyone is supported in their individual way of working. Identification with the company and mutual inspiration also take place here. For this, the room concept and the corporate culture must be further developed. In this way, the potential of new technical equipment can be fully exploited. But of course, the scalability and compatibility of the various solutions also play an important role. Because it is not yet possible to predict how many employees will use the office space and how regularly after the pandemic. Therefore, the solutions that are used should, at best, be extensible and scalable.
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