Increasingly mobile. Tech-enabled. Anywhere and anytime. Virtual assistants.
These are among the buzzwords that describe the office of the future. So says Office of the Future: 2020, a research study recently released by OfficeTeam.
Of course, these trends are already a reality in today’s office world. We see the use of multifunctional, wireless technology to conduct business from various locations. Administrative professionals are playing a greater role in activities such as Internet research, desktop publishing, computer training and support, and website maintenance.
So the bigger question is, what’s in store for the next 10 to 15 years?
“Technology will continue to reshape the workplace, changing how and where we conduct business,” says Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam. “As a result, flexibility and adaptability will be sought-after attributes in employees at all levels.”
Here are some interesting predictions, along with our thoughts on how they may impact the business center industry.
Prediction #1: Technology tools to provide even greater flexibility
Miniature wireless devices, WiFi, WiMax and mobile technology will continue to allow a company’s staff to work outside of the office with greater ease. Additionally, virtual environments and web-based conferencing services will provide off-site employees with real-time access to meetings, reducing the need to travel.
Impact: Flexibility is a keyword that business centers can roll with. Your business center should be WiFi-enabled, as we’ve discussed in past columns. Adding virtual conferencing to your amenities mix will draw mobile workers to your business center.
Prediction #2: Telecommuting to rise
Improved wireless connectivity will allow for an increasingly flexible workforce. Eighty-seven percent of executives surveyed believe telecommuting will increase in the next 10 to 15 years. Telecommuting enables employees to work where it’s most convenient, but it also challenges their interpersonal skills. They must build relationships with coworkers while having fewer in-person interactions.
Impact: If you aren’t already trumpeting your virtual offices and virtual office technologies, now is the time. Telecommuting will continue to gain momentum. In other words, it hasn’t reached its peak yet. Virtual offices continue rising with the growth of telecommuting.
Prediction #3: Staff to put in more time
Forty-two percent of executives surveyed by OfficeTeam think employees will be working more hours in 10 to 15 years. Only 9 percent said they would be working fewer hours.
Impact: You may need to extend your business center operating hours. Some business centers offer 24/7 access. Others don’t. Survey your tenants to determine what their real needs are – and then accommodate them as best you can.
Prediction #4: Workers will stay in touch while on vacation
With the proliferation of wireless technology, staff will be expected to remain in close contact with the office while they’re away. Eighty-six percent of executives surveyed said workers will be more connected to the office while on vacation in the future.
Impact: This, again, is where virtual office technologies come into place. It’s also a boon for business centers that have a network of executive office suites that allow tenants or drop-ins to access the facility. If you are a single business center operator, it may be time to join a network.
Prediction #5: Companies/employees take a new view on work/life balance
People may put in more time, but they will do so using tools that provide more control over their schedules and enable them to better balance priorities. There will be an increasingly blurred line between work and other activities; people will need to multitask to meet all of their obligations efficiently.
Impact: Work-life balance is not an exact science, but business centers and virtual office technologies can help the cause. Home-based virtual office workers may come upon days where it makes more sense to work from a day office to avoid distractions on the home front.
“In the future office, there will be added pressure to adapt quickly to change, work smarter, increase productivity and perform duties outside of one’s job description,” says Domeyer. “The good news is that emerging technological tools and educational opportunities will better enable professionals to meet these challenges.”