The Mobile Workplace: The New Normal
Scott Spector Aug. 10, 2016, 9:14 a.m.
Remember when the ideal was a computer on every desktop? Not anymore. Many of today’s business owners are less interested in cubicles outfitted for stationary desktop systems than they are in fluid workspaces centered on network connectivity and mobile practices.
For many staff and executive workers, on-the-go business dealings that rely on state-of-the-art mobile devices are the norm, making an inherent flexibility in the design of their workspaces key. That means it’s not enough to plan static layouts for hardwired technology and its associated gear. Office designs have to be adaptable enough to meet technology’s continually changing parameters and the rapid upgrades in the equipment that accompanies them. After all, the rise of today’s mobile business climate is a scenario that’s likely to continue into the near future and beyond.
For many businesses, open plans with ready access to advanced tech systems and programs, along with alternate settings that allow for increases and decreases in equipment needs, best serve their workforce. Think of free-address stations where employees forego yesterday’s practice of parking at a dedicated desk to work off a desktop all day and instead sign in to temporarily take up residence in an available, tech-prepped workstation or niche, complete with monitors and network access to plug in their iPad or laptop.
In fact, take a look inside nearly any tech company’s operation. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single desktop. Take Criteo, for example. This cutting-edge, digital performance advertising company relies on wireless technology for almost 100 percent of its everyday operations. There’s also VaynerMedia, a digital marketing and advertising agency whose pioneering vision includes providing full flexibility for its workers by offering options for in-house plug-in stations as well as remote workdays.
Designing for Mobility
Workstations aren’t the only areas where technology is driving design. Communal and conference spaces also are being affected. While in the past high-level conference room designs featured customized millwork that housed built-in, large-scale television monitors and video screens, today such equipment customizations are too limiting to support business professionals’ varied technology needs. Worse, when fixed designs are put in place, more often than not, they have to be redone a few years later to accommodate the latest technological development. Better are bold, digital walls that can be fitted for television monitors, iPads and the next generation of technical devices, regardless of the equipment’s size, shape or feel.
Designing with technology in mind not only benefits everyday business practices, but it also supports long-term lease arrangements by ensuring that workplaces don’t become out-of-date before companies are ready to move on. More than that, offices designed for connectivity are a plus for lease owners because they’re a draw to potential renters. Either way, ample networking is a worthy workplace investment.
Moving Into the Future
With technology integration accounting for half of most office design plans, it’s little wonder that forward-thinking layouts with robust networking capabilities are among the most coveted arrangements. Developers of Hudson Yards, the mega-neighborhood currently under construction on the Far West Side, know that. Among the site’s technological innovations are high-speed communication systems for across-the-board wired and wireless access. Plans are underway, as well, for office building-specific access control management systems equipped with control readers, video security, intercom systems and comprehensive audit trails to monitor the buildings’ high-speed elevators. The development’s advanced systems also will allow managers to monitor and adjust areas as needed, including traffic patterns, air quality, power usage and more.
That’s something businesses are taking notice of, including allowing for flexible furniture arrangements that aren’t bound by hardwired connections, iPad sign-ins in every meeting room and the ability to easily replace outdated devices, all of which align with the staff’s practice of walking around—and conducting business—with laptops in hand.
Whether cutting edge in nature, traditional in practice or something in between, businesses whose workplaces are designed to keep up with technology aren’t just in-trend. They’re leading the way.