A vision of the future: Why creativity will be at the heart of the future workspace

By José Pinto, - Employee experienceFuture Workplace

In the workplace of the future smart workplace technology will be designed to focus on the human experience.

What has been the most exciting innovation you’ve experienced in the last twenty years?

Maybe it was the first time you streamed Game of Thrones on that delayed train, making your journey home seem much quicker. Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to see 3D printing bring an object, building or even an organ to life. Or perhaps Pokémon Go grabbed your imagination – and you spent the next fortnight using augmented reality to hunt Pikachu in the park.

Everyone’s answers will be different, but the vast majority will have one thing in common. These ideas were sparked by creativity but brought to life by technology.

Human creativity and intelligence are becoming the most valuable assets in the business world. Thanks to the impact of digital disruption, many traditional industries and jobs are being changed. Value creation increasingly comes from new ideas, rather than products.

Creativity will be paramount in the future – and we’ll need technology that’s even more intuitive to enable us to realize our ideas, whether in the office, at home or on the move. So how can technology evolve to power our creativity? And what will the future workplace look like? That’s what we sought to set out in our new vision of the future.

Your day in the future

Imagine waking up at 6am, one day in the future. Anna, your personal digital assistant, tells you you’ve just been invited to present at an international conference. After booking you onto a direct flight, you ask Anna to find a compilation of your last five presentations, for you to review on your journey. When you arrive at the airport, your digital biometric ID enables you to access security and customs. But once you take off, you realize that you’ve forgotten your tablet.

Luckily, by scanning your digital ID on the screen in front of you, you can add some new ideas into your presentation on the flight. Anna can then pass it onto the event organizers.

Once you land, a pickup service is waiting to drive you to the conference. The taxi knows which music you like to listen to, and during the drive the vehicle dashboard shows you the latest conference information, lists and profiles of attendees.

Meanwhile, a drone drops your bags at the hotel. It’s looking like a successful trip.

From workplace to digital workspace

As you’ll have gathered, getting things done will be quite different in the workplace of the future. One of the most important things to realize about the workplace is that it won’t be restricted to places at all. We’ll move from a physical office to a virtual workspace in whatever locations we choose.

Each person will be linked to a digital assistant, eliminating the need for a personal device; instead, everyone will be able to use their digital ID to access information through a whole range of objects, from tablets to mirrors and cars. Artificial intelligence will enable us to access information through intelligent dialogue, asking meaningful questions or making requests using natural language.

Equally, information will be presented in ways that are much more intuitive. As well as images and sounds, technology may simulate temperatures, textures and even smells, building on some of the virtual reality technologies that exist today.

All of that will result in an environment for work – and leisure – that’s very different from what we experience today.

How will this help us?

Our decisions are influenced not only by how we think, but how we feel. Workplace technology will evolve to more closely mirror the way that humans actually operate.

In the coming years, smart workplace technology will be designed to focus on the human experience, making the user feel comfortable and empowered to accomplish what they need to, wherever they are.

With more intuitive, contextual technology, that’s built around who you are and what you’re doing, we’ll be able to develop brand new ways of learning, supporting continuous upskilling and personal development.

It will be possible to work with information in real-time, to understand the world and how it’s changing around us. And we’ll be able to focus on our creativity, sparking new ideas and new connections without being constrained by cumbersome processes.

The technological stepping stones to the future

As you’ll have noticed, we’re some way from the workspace of the future – and technology will need to evolve significantly to get us there.

Building up a contextual environment for an individual person involves knowing who that user is in every system, be that when they’re making a purchase, sending a message or ordering a cab. Improving identity and access management, with appropriate security parameters, is a key hurdle.

Connectivity is also a crucial stepping stone. We’ll need a huge amount of bandwidth to deliver the functions of the future workspace; that will probably mean 5G, virtually everywhere in the world.

And, of course, we’ll need further advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning. An intelligent environment will require improvements in natural language programming and software that can rebuild and even create brand new algorithms, to keep meeting our requests.

But people must come first….

However, it’s clear that to arrive at the workspace of the future, we need to put people at the heart of our technology.

When digital transformation fails, often it’s not down to poor technology: it’s because there hasn’t been enough consideration of the experience created for the user.

A digital strategy that’s incredibly advanced, but doesn’t suit the culture of the company, is doomed to fail. That’s why to arrive at the workspace of the future, we need to put people first. Going forward, people and their creativity will continue to be a business’ most important asset. That’s why we must continue to design technology around the needs of humans. That way, we’ll see plenty more incredible innovations in the years ahead.

For an in-depth look at how your workplace will evolve, download Workplace Anywhere: A vision of the future

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