Technology, Tools + Toys in the Transformative Workplace

(By: Paul Durand    , AIA)

TopTechnologies today

Increased economic pressure and logarithmic advances in technology are evolving business processes at a fantastic, and to some, an alarming rate. It’s all very exciting to us as architects. Creation and collaboration, and using new tools are key elements to business success. That, in tandem with sustainable practices, has the workplace becoming a more humane place; and done right it’s vibrant, exciting and more productive.

Without our iPhones, laptops and wireless connectivity we are crippled. The transformative workplace needs infrastructure, spaces and furnishings to optimize all this technology.

To get the most out of knowledge workers the contemporary workplace needs to be flexible and support mobility in a variety of settings. It has to balance open collaborative areas with places that support individual concentration. Meeting areas must accommodate different size groups and be both formal and informal, allowing for interactive visual displays and conferencing technologies. The office of the early 21st century is digital and going paperless. Without our iPhones, laptops and wireless connectivity we are crippled. The transformative workplace needs infrastructure, spaces and furnishings to optimize all this technology.

Understanding we work anywhere at any time, providing for “virtual employees” is huge business advantage and a growing opportunity. It requires different management strategies but it provides greater employee satisfaction as it supports a balanced work/life relationship and a more efficient use of time. Virtual working also goes hand-in-glove with corporate social responsibility programs, reducing the time employees spend in their cars lessens a company’s carbon footprint. It also can relieve companies of some of their expensive real estate that is typically unused or underutilized. Especially in our struggling economy, businesses need to harvest the best talent; regardless of location, to prepare for the growth that is ahead. A more thorough integration of technology into the design of these next generation work environments and new working roles is the right approach.

Technology helps workers manage and perform their work more productively. As a result, IT can no longer be a one-size-fits-all approach…There are so many choices, tools, toys and apps that there is a now need for a business technology concierge to help us select those which fit our role, personality and work style, career goals, home life and availability.

Technology helps workers manage and perform their work more productively. As a result, IT can no longer be a one-size-fits-all approach. Employment of emerging capabilities like social networks for team collaboration, dashboards that consolidate multiple disparate information streams into integrated user interfaces, smart agents taking action on low-value work, personalization filters that refine content for personal relevancy and even artificial intelligence will be required to keep pace. There are so many choices, tools, toys and apps that there is a now need for a business technology concierge to help us select those which fit our role, personality and work style, career goals, home life and availability.

All of the components to transform the workplace are readily available. The Downside of virtual work is that it is easy to become disengaged and “invisible” within a larger organization. Employing technologies such as telepresencing can help though the best systems are still quite expensive for the smooth, seamless feel. It is important that we work with companies to find ways to make the “totality” of the distributed team present and engage in the activities and informal meetings occurring in the “office.”

To quote Henry David Thoreau, “Things do not change, we do” and for businesses to continue to be viable and compete, we must.

WSA’s Top 5 Favorite Technology, Tools + Toys for the Transformative Workplace:

Lucid Design dashboard

1. Intelligent Workplace Management Software (iWMS) – Not sure how to effectively manage and support your flexible work program, conferencing resources or measure building energy consumed & saved? Have difficulty measuring your CSR or Remote Work benefits for your company, employee and community?  We love dashboard systems that calculate everything from time saved to your carbon footprint reduction.  Many of these systems can be configured for individual use like Teletrips’s Work Anywhere Web Utility, or for Building Management and Monitoring like the ones offered by Lucid DesignPeopleCube’s software is also a great tool for scheduling and maintenance of conferencing resources. The goal is to align the technology with the monitoring, measuring and management of your building, resources and employees effort for a visible ROI.

lifesize_conference

2. Telepresencing – Seeing is believing: Tools which aid collaboration by strengthening communication are very valuable, but the investment needs to balance with cost savings in travel avoidance. There are a number of telepresencing solutions on the market today, some with more flexibility than others.  Cicso is a tried and true, high-end, quality solution, but if you’re looking for alternatives we recommend taking a look at Polycom or Lifesize because their platforms can be configured for a variety of networks.  Teliris is another version which actively went head to head with Cisco with surprising results.  Reach out to our friends at Providea Conferencing for more information, http://www.provideaconferencing.com/

surface computing

3. Interactive Computing Media – Interactive Computing Media like Microsoft’s “Surface” isn’t cheap, but their collaboration and interaction capabilities are tremendous. If you are in the process of developing a collaboration or innovation hub in your company, having an interactive computing surface of this kind promotes productivity and knowledge sharing far greater than a traditional solution.  Emerging technologies like OLED surfaces which can create interactive computers from surprisingly thin materials will be changing the game by bringing networked interfaces to a range of objects and appliances. Currently, alternatives to the Microsoft Surface do exist, like the TouchKit by Nortd Labs and the vertical, wall installation of an interactive computer is also quite compelling for high impact displays.

droid

4. Open Source SmartPhones – We all know SmartPhones and most of us have them.  In fact, I love my iPhone. But I am seriously compelled by Motorola’s new Droid.  Developed as part of a deep collaboration between Motorola, Verizon and Google it proves to be the most competitive alternative to Apple’s offering ever.  This kinds of collaboration breeds innovation and provides the best products for end-users – it only gets better for us and provides the kind of virtualized tools everyone needs to stay afloat in a “work anywhere” program.

humanscale daybed

5. Advanced Furniture & Furnishings – Part Eames chair, part android, one of our favorite tech-enhanced furniture offerings is Humanscale’s Daybed concept. Not only does it have capabilities to connect your every tech-request, it’s also ergonomic.  Other great furnishings are Sung-kyu Nam’s Descom Concept– this integrated desk supports Samsung laptops only, but its visual impact, built in dock/battery/networking connectivity is truly innovative and makes us wish it was in production now. Steelcase’s Media:scape is another elegant collaboration hub for open environments. It has not yet made the leap to a televideo conferencing application, but we hear they are working on it.

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  1. […] Technology, Tools + Toys in the Transformative Workplace « Winter Street Architects Blog winterstreetarchitects.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/technology-tools-toys-in-the-transformative-workplace – view page – cached Increased economic pressure and logarithmic advances in technology are evolving business processes at a fantastic, and to some, an alarming rate. — From the page […]

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Winter_Street: Tech, Tools + Toys in the Transformative Environment – what are your favorites? http://wp.me/puwfp-8N



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