Future Office: How Technology Will Change the Way We Work

Digital workspace, virtual reality and voice control are no longer unfamiliar scenarios and technologies in the modern world. But how will these innovations influence our office routines in the future? What challenges can we expect in regard to security and big data? This article will take a closer look at current developments and make a prediction of what may be coming our way.

An article by the COMPAREX Blog Editorial Team

Railcars travelling across oceans, movable houses on rails, flying cars, weather machines and robot cleaners: a century ago, these were the perceptions of how we would live today. All of us can testify that these visions didn’t quite come true. It is equally tricky to foretell how current technology trends will impact in future. But it seems that the consequences in regard to future technologies like augmented and virtual reality, voice control or iris and fingerprint scanners will be immediately noticeable.

Digital Workspace: Digitization and connectivity will set the pace

Digitization will remain a key aspect of office life in the coming years. All data can be accessed from any location, as practically every household owns mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and notebooks. Cloud Computing makes this possible in particular. Of course, these developments lead to entirely new patterns in our working culture.

Home offices will be completely standard. Employees are available at any time, especially due to the development of corporate connectivity using intranet systems, Skype for Business , Office 365 Groups or Yammer. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that the trend is moving clearly toward flexible working hours and workplace structures. Technology is not the issue here. Instead, work culture and the mindsets of employees need to adapt and move away from the concept of individual stakeholders always being gathered at one particular location.

Augmented Reality: Virtual information to expand office technology

Augmented Reality (AR) describes the visualization of virtual elements in our world. In offices, for instance, additional information and charts can appear on screens. Fully digital keyboards are particularly innovative. The characters are projected onto a smooth surface that enable typing in an entirely normal way. Samsung is already working on this kind of project. At the moment, augmented reality can only be viewed through digital spectacles or using other technical components.
By the way: Pokemon GO gamers will already have acquired initial experience with augmented reality.

Virtual Reality: Organizing data in a virtual environment

Virtual Reality (VR) is very similar to augmented reality, but means that the operators immerse themselves entirely in virtual worlds. Researchers at the University of Bielefeld are currently developing a procedure that enables document review in a virtual environment. The central element in the system is a desk on which users can sort their files. They simply reach for a document to view its content and then store it at its correct location. Among other things, this system will certainly reduce office muddle. But it can only be used with data spectacles. Research on the project is currently in full swing, although we will have to wait a little before we can organize our data in a virtual environment.

Iris- and fingerprint scanners: Putting an end to annoying passwords

Maybe you’ve encountered the situation: you sit down at your computer, full of motivation and determined to get started with your work. But first you have to sign in to your desktop and log into the intranet, your mail account and various other programs. Not only is it annoying, the process is also time-consuming. This is where iris- and fingerprint scanners come into the equation. Like in any decent science-fiction film, they scan the eye or fingerprint in an instant, allowing you to start work as soon as the computer has booted. The systems capture a digital impression of your eye or finger, converting it into numerical values and storing the information to ensure recognition. The added security is a particular benefit, as every iris, i.e. fingerprint, is entirely unique.

Microsoft’s Windows Hello already enables biometric sign-in. Users even have a facial recognition option for authentication. Simply sitting down in front of the computer is enough to unlock the screen. Regrettably, though, very few devices support this technology, and so we will have to wait a few years for breakthrough on the mass market.

Digital Voice Control: Voice assistants optimize workflows

Siri, Cortana and Alexa are perfect examples of voice control. But it is regrettable that people remain extremely timid of using them, and so the artificial assistants are left practically unemployed. It’s a shame, as a few years from now they will likely be extremely helpful. Not only do we speak faster than we type, voice recognition software also adapts to the user, learns intuitively and hence optimizes our workflows. For instance, the digital voice assistants can learn abbreviations or proper nouns, and can also be instructed to create frequently used commands. Just imagine what it would be like with service staff using artificial intelligence: you would operate a coffee machine by voice control and not by hand. All you would do is say “Black Coffee” to receive your hot beverage. Your only task would be to place a mug beneath the tap.

IT security experts and big data scientists: Rising number of IT jobs

The innovative future technologies will only be established if IT security keeps pace. Therefore, the demand for security experts will remain high, especially as cyber criminals adapt to new circumstances and find inventive ways to sabotage new systems. From this perspective, it is obvious that the number of IT jobs will rise steadily. More and more universities offer degree program for cyber security, which teach the basics of computer science and mathematics, as well as hacking techniques. These programs freely interpret the principle that “the best means of defense is attack”. After all, protective measures can only be developed if the system’s vulnerability to conceivable cyberattacks is understood.

Besides IT security specialists, demand for big data scientists is also growing to manage the spiraling burden of corporate data management. This new profession blends classic disciplines like mathematics and computer science with domain expertise. After all, data scientists must be able to locate and analyze data to then implement the insight they acquire in a productive system.

So the world of IT remains an exciting place. Besides technologies, our working methods and the jobs themselves continue to evolve steadily. We can look forward to finding out what reality looks like in a few years down the line.

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Leipzig, 26.09.2017

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