Considering how quickly the pace of change in our world is accelerating, staying ahead of workplace trends has never been more critical to your company’s future.
More than half of all companies on the Fortune 500 from 2000 are no longer listed, and former Cisco chairman John Chambers predicts 80 percent of today’s businesses will no longer exist in 10 years.
And in the timeless words of Charles Darwin, it’s not the strongest that survive, but the most adaptable.
Kay Sargent, senior principal and director of HOK’s global WorkPlace practice, spends a lot of time helping organizations plan for the future. Here’s her take on three emerging workplace trends we’re likely to see by 2025.
(Watch Kay’s keynote presentation from our Big Easy Workplace Summit)
Are You Ready For These 3 Workplace Trends?
1. Autonomous Work Stations
Think about what happens when you step into a car that’s equipped with the latest technology.
You open the door and start the engine with just the press of a button. The seat and mirrors automatically adjust to your preferences. The car’s display syncs with your smartphone.
Meanwhile, Sargent said, “most of us in the workplace are still crawling around under our desks trying to find an outlet.”
In the future, she predicts we’ll have autonomous work stations designed to adjust to individual users just as cars adjust to their drivers.
Desks and chairs will be equipped with technology that recognizes us and adjusts to our pre-set preferences for height and ergonomics.
We won’t need to lug around our laptops, monitors and other hardware when everything we need is in the cloud and available at our fingertips.
And we won’t need to spend 10 minutes getting set up each morning.
2. Holograms & Augmented Reality (AR)
Holograms and augmented reality (AR) in the workplace have the potential to transform the way we work. Imagine being on the East Coast, meeting with the manager of a construction project that’s happening on the West Coast.
Holograms are 3-D images created by shining a laser through a hologram device and projecting the image onto a screen. How much easier would it be if you could project holographic images of documents and buildings while speaking to your colleagues not from a flat screen, but as if they’re in the room with you?
While holograms are one aspect, augmented reality is a broader, interactive experience where elements in the physical world are enhanced by computer-generated displays, sounds and effects.
This technology has the potential to change the way we collaborate, learn, develop products and help customers.
Here are a few examples of augmented reality in the workplace:
- The Industrial Reality Hub is developing augmented reality applications like training programs that show manufacturers how to assemble parts, rather than giving them a long manual with step-by-step instructions.
- Sephora’s Virtual Artist app is an augmented reality experience that allows customers to “try on” products using their smartphone. Rather than sampling just one shade of lipstick in the store, they can try dozens of different looks.
- Microsoft’s HoloLens is an augmented reality headset that allows field technicians to view digital overlays of manuals and collaborate with remote experts who can help them with repairs. Elevator manufacturer ThyssenKrupp already uses this technology.
- A holographic software allows physicians to convert CT and MRI scans into 3-D images. This gives physicians a safe and more effective way to practice surgery, which improves patient outcomes.
This technology already exists, but has yet to be widely adopted in the workplace.
We expect to see more organizations using holographic technology and AR in the near future to create more meaningful, productive experiences at work.
3. Biomimicry and Biolayering
Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges emulating nature’s patterns and strategies, according to the Biomimicry Institute.
The goal is to design things in a way that makes them well-adapted to last a long time.
Companies are already incorporating more natural elements like plants, wood, and natural lighting into the workplace, a workplace trend known as biophilia.
Biomimicry and biolayering go beyond that by approaching workplace design from the lens of the natural world.
“We integrate and layer natural elements into the built environment to mitigate stress, engender positive psychophysiological responses, and contribute to the health, wellbeing and happiness of occupants,” Sargent said.
One example of this is a natural ventilation system inspired by termite mounds. Termites stay cool even in the hottest climates by building mounds with air pockets. Architect Mick Pearce and engineering firm Arup used a similar design to cool the Eastgate Centre office and shopping mall in Zimbabwe with outside air.
This natural cooling system allows the building to use 35 percent less energy compared to similar buildings in the area with traditional HVAC systems.
It also reduced the total building cost by 10 percent.
Final Thoughts on Workplace Trends & Technology
Technology is advancing so quickly that today’s leaders often feel pressured to latch onto the latest workplace trends and gadgets without considering how to best use them.
That’s why Sargent recommends asking, “What kind of experiences do you want to create, and what role should technology play?”
When it comes to workplace trends and technology in the workplace, there are three types of people:
There are those who let it happen.
Those who make it happen.
And those who look back and wonder what happened.
Which one will you be?