Using data to define the office of the future

Written by Martin Finlayson, Head of Visual Communications, SCC AVS There is a huge industry secret most tech companies aren’t telling you… We all know that the way we work has changed indefinitely – and that the role of the physical office will never be the same again. We understand that what was once rows of desks with meeting rooms will forever more be hot desk heaven and collaboration stations. We get that fewer people want to work in a sole location – and that we must act now to ensure our legacy buildings are up to scratch for work and meeting in the new normal.

But do we really know how best to do it?

Yes, most tech firms will answer. Rip out all your islands of desks and replace them with video screens on wheels and soft seating, most likely in colour bursts that pre-pandemic office workers could never stand to look at for 8-10 hours a day. The truth is, they can’t know – and nor can you yet – exactly how the office of the future looks for your business. Considering work styles differ from person-to-person, and work requirements are wildly different from department to departstment, there can’t possibly be a one-size-fits-all approach to designing an office fit for purpose now and into the future. There are so many factors that change how your business will perform in the brave new world of hybrid collaboration that you must find a solution to measure and understand what solution works best.

The good news is you’ve probably already got access to the tech that can help.

Many businesses have invested heavily in new, modern meeting spaces and collaboration technology that generates a huge amount of data. In some cases, collaboration platforms, meeting rooms and booking systems are already loaded with data that can tell you exactly how your business and people are behaving. The latest videoconferencing technology is capable of reading how many people are in a room – useful to know when you’re over capacity to support social distancing protocols – or automatically deleting room bookings if no meeting is initiated within ten minutes of the scheduled appointment. Some solutions even include an atmospheric monitor to optimise the environment for productivity. But why does this all matter? These soft statistics are more important than ever before as lots of people talk about adopting hybrid working practices, but few people really know what that means in reality. For a start, businesses had only just welcomed people back into the office before homeworking was once again the advice from on high. No one had the chance to understand how the office works. And the associated investment with entirely remodelling work venues is too high to simply predict. Soft statistics from collaboration technology can help gain an understanding of exactly what it is people are doing when they do eventually return to the office. They can help you answer the all-important question: what are people doing when they come into the office that they can’t do at home? Typically, it’s face-to-face meetings and a little bit of healthy human interaction. But even these meetings look different now. With the investment in technology that companies were forced to make during the pandemic, it’s no longer a group of people sat staring as a camera at the far end of the table; it’s not just a video meeting. Teams now meet to collaborate and get stuff done in real-time – saving valuable time either side of the meeting by completing actions there and then. By understanding how people behave when they are in the office, it will give you a fairly good indication of how best to tailor your office space to enable true hybrid working – saving you considerable time, effort, and cash in guessing that a few break-out spaces will probably do the trick. The tech you already have is likely to be a good starting point. The tech you don’t have, you can get. But you can get it with a plan in place for it to help you understand your hybrid work strategy that will see you take the competitive edge for years to come. What’s more, by continually monitoring this data, you can keep evolving your office in a way that benefits your current cohort of employees at any time. You can understand their challenges and avoid investing in technology they don’t want. Ask yourself this: has anyone tried to sell you touchscreen technology in the past two years? The answer is probably yes. Do people want to touch any surfaces now and going forward? Probably not. Soft data collected through collaboration technology will help you identify these preferences more quickly. In the office of the future, you need to be able to adapt your space at the same pace as the changing work environment – which just lately has been rapid. Soft data needs to be gathered and something sensible needs doing with it. This is where SCC AVS can help. Talk to us about your new office layout. Together, we can identify the technology we think might work and help you analyse your soft data to know whether or not it’s the smart choice. No more buying out of the box or kneejerk reactions to temporary situations with costly, long-term consequences. Instead, let us help you use the data you have to understand behaviours at a time when behaviours are changing. To get it touch, please complete the form below:

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