With innovations and new workplace solutions arriving almost daily, it’s worth asking: What’s hype and what’s a reality in futuristic workplace tech? Let’s take a look.
Cyborgs replacing workers?
Robots are already working farms, vacuuming, and looking after grandma. IBM’s Watson is delivering better diagnoses than human doctors, and your child hasn’t even got into medical school yet.
We used to worry that we might not be able to prepare our children to do jobs that hadn’t yet been invented. Now that seems like a nice problem to have compared to the alternatives: no jobs for our children to do because the robots will be taking over.
However, the world hasn’t run out of room for creative problem-solvers using technology to help them. As well as computers to help us in the office, we’re going to have 3D printers, small bots, and drones. They’re not going to take over our jobs – they’re going to help.
For example, robots and smart computers are helping manage our money. Insurance companies are using machine learning to assess accident damage and identify fraud. Moreover, companies such as Google are using AI to cut power bills at data centers.
Taking work into the next century
Technology is powering collaboration, from AI wearables such as watches, glasses, and other devices to virtual reality (VR) presentations and smart whiteboards.
Global law firm Seyfarth Shaw sees the day when email will become redundant. Instead, it sees workers collaborating via video, smart-screen touch and messaging apps, with work saved in the cloud and everyone accessing it in real-time using their own device.
VR and AR (augmented reality) tools are helping footballers train, doctors collaborate on patients and companies as big as Walmart train workers.
While the technology is still evolving, the days of having to jump on a plane or train to meet colleagues or business partners in distant offices may soon be nearing an end.
Shaking up the workspace
The future office is also moving, from a realm of closed-off cubicles to open spaces and even outer space thanks to VR and AR.
Modern workspaces now feature video-enhanced boardrooms, smaller “huddle” rooms and quieter areas such as garden spaces. More technology is being built into the furniture and walls, including screens and digital whiteboards that connect seamlessly to workers’ devices when required and wireless charging ports.
The growth of the ‘smart office’ with embedded Internet of Things sensors will allow for automated systems that optimize resources such as heating, lighting, and space, bringing big energy savings.
The latest changes have opened up telecommuting and other possibilities for workers unable to commit to the regular nine-to-five, five-day-a-week job.
Will holographic displays and VR headsets become the new norm in the modern office?
While factors like cost and market readiness are exerting somewhat of a chill, the future is coming faster than ever for workplaces.