Adrian Norman discusses the office of tomorrow, and how technology will change the way we work and use our physical spaces.

Adrian Norman

Head of Design

28th Feb 2019

When we talk about technology and the connected office, we’re really talking about how the internet of things is going to transform our lives and working environments. Up until now smart buildings in the commercial sector have focused on facilities-centric optimisation; technologies linked to sensors which help the building itself operate at maximum efficiency.

Looking ahead, these technologies are going to become much more people-centric – just like the smart systems we’ve welcomed into our homes. You may have Alexa or Nest keeping your domestic affairs in tip-top shape and automating your life, soon we’ll see the same in the office. Your Fitbit will tell the building how hot or cold you are, or your smartphones will tell the air-conditioning system how many people are in a particular meeting room. Perhaps even building utilisation will be driven harder using workstation sensors to personalise desk allocations and individual working environments.

I also think we’ll see major improvements in video conferencing technologies and visual equipment. Collaboration has been a major driver of office design in previous years; it’s changed the landscape of what we do. A recent Morgan Lovell study found 29% of people said it took them five minutes to set up a meeting room, which is a huge waste of productive time. Because of this, people are put off by technology – often it’s counter-intuitive or clunky to use. We’re hoping 2019 will bring the development of ‘one-touch’ meetings, essentially cloud-based video-conferencing facilities where anyone can join with any device.

We’re also going to see HD video-streaming everywhere with cameras on laptops and other devices being much more accessible. This is key for us, as designers, because we have to be extra mindful of the acoustics in every working space we propose. You don’t want to sound like you’re dialling in from a cupboard when you’re in a furniture booth!

A recent Morgan Lovell poll found that 65% of British workers aren't happy with their current office technology setup.