What the Future of Technology in the Workplace Means for Office Design and Operations

What do you need to provide to entice employees to leave their home offices? Mara Hauser of Workplace Studio explores the importance of including easy access to technology. 

Meeting Room with vodcasting technology at Pacific Workspaces in Oakland, CA.

Advances in technology continue to influence the workplace as corporate entities and coworking operators are confronted with modern challenges surrounding productivity and collaboration. We lead teams to execute intentional designs that reflect brand vision and produce lively, productive workspaces. With the growing demand from employees for workplace flexibility, these technological advancements must be reflected in both office design and business practices in order to add value and ultimately achieve operational excellence.

Plug-in flex desk seating with integrated outlets at 25N Coworking in Arlington Heights, IL.

Technology in Office Design

In an increasingly hybrid environment, a once perfectly suitable conference room might not be sustainable for video conferencing today during the Zoom era. Investing in technology solutions goes beyond integrating video and speaker systems. Are the acoustics in the room optimal for video conferencing? Does the current lighting provide ample backlight? Is the space wired to meet the needs of multiple users and uses? These are design details our team takes into account when creating floor plans for new concepts or when looking to enhance an existing space.

The positioning of wires and outlets to allow users to plug in outside of a traditional four-walled office is another challenge to account for. Open floor concepts are common in coworking spaces and are beginning to appear in more corporate settings. In recent projects, our team has strategically placed retractable outlets and extension cords overhead, allowing users to access power from the center of a room where an outlet might not have been within reach. We’ve also incorporated desks and tables that have power sources and outlets built-into the design.

Podcasting studio at FUSE Workspace in Houston, TX.

Podcasting and vodcasting rooms are an example of how acoustics, lighting and wiring all come into play to cater to a more specific need. Podcast listenership has increased over the past two years, driving both individuals and business entities to develop their own shows. Whether looking to build out a podcasting or videocasting space within a corporate office or coworking space, there are plenty of technicalities that come into play. Understandably, the microphone and speaker systems are on a different pro-level than the standard Zoom-room. What will the audio interface look like? Is there room within the space for a mixer and monitors? Are all of the wires and cables easily accessible without being too overbearing? How can we best soundproof the space and what location within the office itself is ideal for minimal foot traffic?

Retractable ceiling outlets over café tables at 25N Coworking in Waco, TX.

Technology in Office Operations

Now more than ever, users want to feel comfortable and safe when using communal office spaces. Technological security has to be a high priority in day-to-day office operations, especially when it comes to protecting personal information. Enterprise-level IT must be easily accessible and provide fast broadband, reliable connectivity, and guaranteed network security. There are additional ways to incorporate today’s evolving technology into business practices.

Integrating technology into workplace operations provides community managers with beneficial tools to streamline processes. For example, our team utilizes an intuitive facilities management platform, UpKeep, which is available via web browser and mobile application. With UpKeep, any issues or repair requests are able to be documented in real-time by submitting a photo to the appropriate maintenance teams for on-demand service.

Evaluating how technology can improve the coworking operational experience is twofold. Coworking operators can lean into technology to track invoicing, billing and vacancies to help identify opportunities for increased revenue. On the other hand, professionals who are using the space are granted the flexibility of accessing their membership options, booking capabilities, amenities and the building itself all at their fingertips.

Plug-in work tables with integrated outlets at The Loop Coworking in Alexandria, VA.

Reserving a desk, office or meeting room has never been more accessible. Users are not limited to booking in advance or via phone and can access these spaces without a key-fob or office manager to let them in. Similar to popular fitness studio models, we notice that allowing users to book online and in real-time holds them accountable when it comes to actually showing up. This is a direct link to revenue and accelerating the rate at which sales goals and key performance indicators are met.

Certain applications can allow users to see other individuals within the coworking space, making it easier to determine meeting room and desk availability. If a user wants the opportunity to network or perhaps have lunch with their team will be able to see who is in the coworking space. Business entities can also use this data to track just how many employees are taking advantage of the coworking space and adjust their company membership as needed. This type of technology is out there for coworking operators to take advantage of without having to contribute large amounts of time and money developing their own application. However, if certain entities want to be more brand forward they may have to invest a little more in order to incorporate branded interfaces. 

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