Predictions of future office environments

It’s truly challenging to keep up.  More is changing in the world of technology than is remaining the same. Our friends at HP (think mainstream computing, rather than bleeding edge companies) takes a look at wearables, what’s going to happen to your office (think of a rudimentary holodeck) AI assistants and translators.  Hang on – it’s going to be quite a ride!

Wild things are coming your way

There’s so much changing in the IT world at this very moment—from transitioning to Device as a Service to managing the security of an increasingly mobile workforce—that it’s hard to look beyond next month, much less the next decade. So we did it for you. (You’re welcome.) Here are five burgeoning technologies that we think will radically change the way you work.

HR-monitored wearables

The idea: Not feeling well? Don’t worry about calling in sick—HR will do it for you. The office of the future will use a Device-as-a-Service model that includes wearable tech that your company will use to keep tabs on your health. It could be as simple as a smart watch or as sophisticated as “earables”—in-ear devices that can monitor temperature and heart rate as part of their wide range of features.

Why this could be great: A healthy workforce is good for a company’s bottom line, but it could also be good for you—wearables can catch health issues before you notice them, whether it’s illness or signs of stress.

What to watch out for: Lots. Can your employer require you to wear a wearable—then use your health data to discriminate against you? What if it reveals a preexisting health condition you don’t want to expose?

Our prediction: There will be a boatload of privacy and legal issues to work out before you get a heart monitor with your new employee package.

Automated offices

The idea: In the future working in the office will be less common—but when you do go in, it’ll be a nicer and more productive experience. The building will monitor your wearables and adjust temperature, lighting and maybe even the air to optimize your productivity. Need a quick nap to dream up the next big innovation? Your wearables will also suggest naps when you need one, waking you at just the right time in your sleep cycle.

Why this could be great: If you’ve ever felt drowsy after a lunchtime burrito, office-sanctioned naptime might just be the greatest innovation ever.

What to watch out for: Just like HR-issued wearables, there may be some privacy issues to work out first.

Our prediction: If it’s implemented properly, this’ll be a hugely popular employee perk and enhance productivity.

Holographic workspaces

The idea: As the remote workforce increases and big office cube farms downsize into smaller, task-oriented spaces, the quality of virtual meetings will become even more important. Garbled conference lines and frozen video will be replaced with AR headsets that create an immersive roundtable experience for those in and out of the office. When employees aren’t collaborating in holomeetings, they can use office tech to access their own virtual workspaces.

Why this could be great: Face-to-face communication tools that feel like you’re “in the room” will improve collaboration and productivity.

What to watch out for: Tech that’s overcomplicated and wonky and has meeting participants reaching for the phone instead.

Our prediction: This tech isn’t ready for mainstream adoption yet—but expect something like it in the next five years.

AI assistants

The idea: Cortana, Alexa and Siri will get dusted by new AIs that use machine learning to really get to know you. They’ll still be able to manage your calendar and to-do lists, but they’ll also interact with your other devices at work and at home, reminding you to go to bed at a decent hour and ordering flowers for your mom’s birthday while you sleep.

Why this could be great: A personal assistant with a human(ish) touch can free up your mind to focus on your work and maximize your productivity.

What to watch out for: We’re moving from simple task-based assistants to ones with neural network-based reasoning that act on your behalf. What if yours skips over a great job candidate while going through resumes, or cuts an important project out of the quarterly budget because it doesn’t fit the usual criteria?

Our prediction: AI assistants will become an indispensable part of work and life, giving you more of your most important asset: time.

Real-time translation

The idea: As remote workforces grow beyond international boundaries, AI-based natural language processing will grow to accommodate it. Whether it’s seamless dubbed-in translation during holographic meetings or customer service communication with consumers around the world, new machine translation efforts will leave our current clunky Google translate tools out in the cold.

Why this could be great: Instantaneous translation tools that actually work are a win-win: They make employees’ lives easier, and they’re good for the company’s bottom line.

What to watch out for: Making sure they do, in fact, actually work.

Our prediction: While real-time translation isn’t as flashy as other workplace innovations, it will end up being one of the most important.

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