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Here today, there tomorrow: The office of the future

What will the office of the future look like? It’s already clear that tomorrow’s workplace won’t resemble offices depicted in classic sci-fi films, which typically look like traditional offices with upgraded gadgets. There’s no doubt the office of the future will have advanced devices — that’s already true today.

But one thing most sci-fi scriptwriters got wrong is that the nature of work itself is evolving. Increasingly, the lines between home and office are blurred, and work is more collaborative. That means people need the ability to get in touch with coworkers and clients from wherever they happen to be. It also means now more than ever, the office needs to be connected, flexible and portable.

High Performance Connectivity

People who are looking for disruptive technology to drive fast, high-performance connectivity are quickly adopting cutting-edge technologies like Thunderbolt 3, that enable single cable docking of laptops to multiple displays and peripherals with blazing-fast speed to improve workflow. Knowledge workers like creative professionals who work with high-resolution, high-bandwidth and graphically intensive images, video, CAD drawings and medical professionals who require fast access to large datasets and high-resolution media use these tools today.

The office of the future is likely to feature WiGig wireless connectivity, which operates in the 60GHz frequency range and can achieve data transmission rates up to 7Gbps. Analysts predict WiGig could eventually yield speeds of up to 25Gbps, and, when integrated into products like docking stations, could prove to be a game-changing connectivity tool that powers the office of the future.

Flexibility and Mobility

Since there’s no longer a bright-line separating work life and home life, people are increasingly demanding flexibility and comfort in their office environments. The 9 to 5 routine is already a thing of the past for millions as people work at different times and various locations. That means they need an office environment that emphasizes flexibility as well as ergonomic workstations to stay healthy - think desks that allow users to alternate easily between sitting and standing, and unique ways to mount multiple displays.

Products that offer workplace flexibility, like universal docking stations that quickly convert any brand of laptop or mobile phone to a fully-functioning workstation, are more important than ever. Increasingly so for workers who are running from meeting to meeting, and who’s desk time is at a premium.

Flexibility and comfort are important, but tomorrow’s employees will also require advanced mobility tools, that allow them the same level of productivity on the road, as in the office.

More Portable, Productive Devices

Given the mobile, flexible nature of the modern workforce, device portability is critical. Devices have been getting smaller, lighter and thinner over the past couple of decades. That trend will continue into the future as portability increasingly becomes a factor in device utility.

A significant shift in device utility and its associated connectivity challenges is the increasing proclivity of users to run more sophisticated business processes, like editing and presenting, directly from their mobile phone. Seemingly simple solutions, like travel A/V adapters that boast the latest I/O profiles (like USB-C) will become a road warrior essential. Workers need to be confident that they can connect wherever they roam and the workplace of the future means hard-to-find connections are made easy with the right connectivity products. The ability to edit on-the-go and then seamlessly connect to a fully-equipped workstation, all from the user’s mobility device, truly represents the potential for productivity in the office of the future.

The cables that connect these devices to peripherals are also evolving, with the future-proof USB-C connector becoming more popular. USB-C, which is a standard connector capable of carrying multiple technology protocols (like DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 3), will be adopted by more manufacturers so that users can connect universally as the workplace expands beyond office walls.

Meetings Made Easy

Devices aren’t the only workplace staple that are getting smaller and more agile. Meeting spaces are also adapting to meet the needs of a more mobile workforce. Meeting spaces in a modern office will come in all shapes and sizes, designed to accommodate workers in the office and on-the-go. Equipped with high-tech solutions, including multiple displays and sophisticated conferencing systems, meeting spaces of the future will aim to make the meeting experience easier for everyone.

The old-school sci-fi vision of the workplace of the future focused on devices, and it’s true that advanced technology looms large in the office environment and will continue to be a major factor that drives productivity well into the future. But it’s important to keep the evolution of the workforce in mind too.

In the years to come, expect to see a more connected, flexible and mobile future as workers adapt technology to integrate work more fully into their lives.

Adrian Mezenberg, Vice President, Product Management at StarTech

Image source: Shutterstock/bikeriderlondon