From email to AI: how technology is improving our offices

Innovation drives growth – this is one of the basic principles of macroeconomics. But innovation is also a key driver of employee happiness. In fact, Deloitte research shows that employees are 34% happier in their working environment when they feel like innovation is encouraged.

This means that those fast-growing companies focused on creating innovative products or services – and quickly adapting them for a volatile market – are sitting on a key source of employee satisfaction. Not only that, but we all have so many tools at our fingertips that make “innovation” extremely easy to access.

However, our offices haven’t always been the connected, networked, and wired-up places they are today. When Regus was founded back in 1989, almost none of the office tech that we now take for granted even existed. More than two decades later, Regus survey shows that 54% of companies believe technology is a key to profitability.

Let’s look at five of the biggest inventions of the last few decades and take a peek at what’s on the horizon.

  • The World Wide Web: It’s almost unimaginable now, but it was only when the World Wide Web became available in 1991 that we were able to start using email, revolutionizing communication and driving up productivity.
  • Laptops: These took off in 1995 and were the first step in allowing us to work wherever and whenever we needed.
  • BlackBerry phones: In 1999 we saw another turning point in communication as people started to access their email on the go without having to lug around a computer.
  • Wi-Fi hotspots: Starbucks introduced Wi-Fi to its coffee shops in 2001, ushering in the era of the coffee shop freelancer.
  • The cloud: This one was a long time coming, but by 2013, cloud-based storage and data tools were firmly entrenched in many businesses.

In fact, 2013 was also the year when the number of mobile and connected devices outnumbered the number of people on the planet.

Innovation has completely changed how we work. And if there’s one lesson we can learn from the last 30 years, it’s that nothing stays still for long. Here are some of the biggest projects in development.

5G networks

Digital collaboration has become central to both our working methods and our lives. Up to 75% of workers believe it improves their morale and productivity. So 4G’s leaner, meaner younger brother, 5G, will be a welcome upgrade. With speeds up to 10 times faster and response rates 50 times quicker than those provided by 4G, lag times will be a thing of the past. Low energy use will also ensure much longer battery times.

Intelligent bots

The integration of artificially intelligent “chatbots” means we could all have our own personal assistant. According to companies like Emoshape, they will perform all those menial tasks that zap our time, from organizing calendars to warning us about traffic jams. Monotony is one of the biggest causes of disengagement in the workplace, so leaving these routine tasks to someone else – or something else – will let your employees concentrate on the creative work they enjoy, increasing both innovation and satisfaction.

The Internet of Things

This is where every object can generate and transmit data. It could be used for millions of different purposes; one simple way would be using the building itself to closely track and analyze your workspace to discern how areas are used at different times of day. Conclusions could then be drawn to improve efficiency; if breakout areas are being used more than desk-based spaces, for example, most employees could be shifted toward the former.

It’s clear we’re heading toward a workplace that’s freer from the humdrum and the monotonous, increasing happiness by allowing employees to concentrate on the innovative core product work of their business.

REGUS

To franchise flexible workspaces IWG/ Regus for your country, please send us an email to [email protected]/ [email protected].

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