Elaine Mullarkey

By Elaine Mullarkey
Workplace Consultant |

It might sound like something from a SciFi feature, but the “internet of things” (IoT) is here, and making its way to an office near you. So as an example, instead of turning on your remote thermostat before you get in, your GPS tracker alerts your home system you are nearby and switches everything on, without added human interaction. Things are literally talking to things.

So just like your Apple Watch will tell you to breathe, stand or drink water, your monitor of the future may sense you are getting tired and automatically change the lighting, temperature and surrounding ambiance to boost your mood. There’s a new technology called Humanyze that monitors emotion and is said to be ‘the Fitbit for your career’. It’s all about maximising performance in your professional life.

Smart Meeting Room iPad
Smart meeting rooms @ Anomaly

Technology helps us choose an environment

While this may sound a bit Big Brother-esque, it’s mostly about promoting self-awareness. Just like in the future we’ll have medicine recommendations based on our DNA or gut bacteria (a big prediction for 2018 is that a tech giant will try to get into healthcare – watch out for Google or Apple buying a healthcare provider!), technology is going to help us choose an environment that’s best for us. We can’t get away from the fact that we have physiological responses to stressors, but we can get better at recovery - and that’s exactly where this technology will come in!

Activity tracking your work life

There’s a really interesting movement called Quantified Self that’s all about monitoring and tracking your own health data, but what’s lacking in the technology at the moment is the ability to make recommendations. So while our wearables can monitor our vital signs, they’re still relying on us to join the dots and decide on a suitable course of action. With the prevalence of AI going mainstream, it’s only a matter of time before people start relying on predictions from artificial intelligence, rather than drawing their own conclusions. Once this technology takes off in the consumer space, we’ll see this adopted into the workplace.

Hey Siri, is my favourite meeting room free?

I’ve recently been using a bot via Facebook Chat to monitor my cashflow. At the moment, it can tell me that I spend the most on a Wednesday. In the future, it might be able to tell me why it is on a Wednesday, and if I want to cut down on spending it can recommend strategies to combat this behaviour.

Taking this behaviour to the workplace, our connected office of the future may sense our vital signs and recognise when you’re regularly feeling sluggish throughout the week. My work monitor will tell me that the recurring meeting I have is in a room with poor oxygen levels for such a lengthy meeting and suggest another room. My monitor has talked to the building system and my calendar, understood potential factors that might be influencing poor performance and recommended a strategy to improve.

This all may sound like the far-fetched future, but it’s happening right now!