Happy New Year! 2020 is finally here, and with the beginning of a new decade we’re anticipating a period of big changes in industry and technology that will shape the future for years to come.
A major area of change right now appears to be corporate office settings, where the push for a shorter work week and enhanced perks is supported by the growth of automation technologies that will make workers more productive than ever before. To help keep you up to date with what’s going on, we’ve compiled a list of our top 20 trends for 2020 when it comes to improving office productivity and collaboration.
Keep reading to find out how corporations will use the latest technologies (audiovisual and more) to get the most and best out of their employees in 2020 and beyond.
Increase in Remote Work/Telecommuting
In the age of flexible work and the gig economy, telecommuting is one trend that won’t be slowing down any time soon.
The best available estimates indicate that remote work has grown by 91% in the past decade, and that in 2020, 50% of North American workers could be participating in remote work.
While many are excited by the opportunity to earn money from home, managers will face additional challenges when it comes to fostering teamwork and a sense of belonging between increasingly disparate team members. We expected that many companies will adopt new audiovisual technologies that enable more genuine and fulfilling collaboration over longer distances.
Video Conferencing Capabilities
As the trend towards remote work continues to grow, video conferencing will become an increasingly important part of how offices collaborate.
Today’s deployments of video conferencing capabilities are often limited to usage by executive leadership teams, but as the technology matures and implementation costs continue to decline, we expect to see more frequent deployments of video conferencing systems that will drive engagement, teamwork and accountability between geographically separated team members in a variety of roles.
Telepresence robots are a recent invention and while their practicality is questionable, we’re excited to see whether the trend will take off.
A telepresence robot is essentially a video conferencing system mounted on a moving base. The robot is equipped with a microphone and speakers, enabling two-way communication between the operator and any colleagues in the office environment. It can be remotely controlled from outside the office, giving a remote worker a physical presence within the office or allowing a visitor to tour the facility in person – even from a thousand miles away.
Shared Digital Whiteboards
For telecommuters who do not wish to travel around their office using a remote-controlled robot, a shared digital whiteboard might be a better way of fostering collaboration with team members.
In the past, geographically separated working teams might have had to exchange partial drafts via e-mail, making it difficult to integrate work and creating plenty of waste along the way. When creation spaces are digitally shared, remote and in-office workers may collaborate in real time and work towards a shared project vision.
Smart Lighting and Electric
Businesses of all kinds are increasingly undertaking new initiatives to reduce their energy consumption, drive down operating costs and limit their environmental impact.
For offices in 2020, that means increasing use of smart lighting and electric systems.
You may have encountered smart lighting systems in the freezer section at your local grocery store. The lights inside the freezer can be controlled by a motion sensor, such that they are only active when the sensor detects that a person is walking past the freezer and may need to see inside. Similarly, office conference rooms can be fitted with motion sensors that deactivate lights, screens and other electronics or audiovisual equipment when the room is empty, reducing energy consumption and costs.
Smart desks are a direct response to the most pressing and simultaneously surprising threat to the health of every office worker – sitting. Sitting is the new smoking, and the evidence is piling up that workers everywhere are doing too much of it. Excessive sitting has been linked with a range of negative health issues, including poor metabolism, neck and back pain and even cancer.
We’ve already seen motorized adjustable standing desks that workers can use for a change of posture during the workday, but the latest smart desk models take this tech a step further. An automatic sensor detects when the worker has been sitting for too long, sending an alert or a reminder to change positions or take a short walk.
In-Office Entertainment Rooms
With more Millennials entering the work force, corporations are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain high-talent recruits. As a response, we’ve seen an incredible movement towards in-office “perks” and attractions that simply didn’t exist in the work environment a few decades ago.
Employees at Zynga enjoy multiple basketball courts and gaming rooms where they can unwind during their break or lunch hour, while those at Dropbox may access a gaming room or even a music studio to relax or create during periods of downtime. These investments in audiovisual technology support employee recreation and a positive work environment that fosters creativity, productivity and engagement.
Enhanced Office Security
One trend we’re seeing across industries for 2020 is increasing adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) and more devices and objects than ever before with internet connective capabilities. IoT adoption will lead to new efficiencies and working methods for business, but it also comes with risks that organizations should be aware of.
Front and centre here are the security risks posed by IoT devices, as each new device deployed can significantly expand the potential surface area for cyber attacks. Organizations of all sizes will look for ways to enhance both digital and physical security in hopes of protecting their data assets, even while investment in IT continues to grow. New physical security protocols may incorporate visual facial recognition or other biometric indicators.
Increased Use of Voice Activation
Voice activation technology has been around for a while, but in the past five years it has become much more useful, with a broader scope of applications and easy access for the public. Personal assistant apps like Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant are already widely adopted, but we expect to see increasing use of voice activation to automate and streamline tasks in the business context.
While the open office concept has gained popularity, it may have drawbacks in terms of employee productivity, especially for those whose roles require close concentration and focused problem-solving. We foresee a shift towards office environments where employees have more privacy to interface effectively with voice-activated software robots that can assist with a range of tasks.
Alexa for Business
Alexa for Business is an Amazon service that helps drive employee productivity through streamlined organization and task automation in the business context.
With Alexa for Business, users benefit from e-mail and calendar integrations that make it easy to organize meetings and book meeting rooms. Users can also enter new events into their calendar or simply ask Alexa “What’s in my calendar?” to get instant information about what’s booked for the day. Alexa for Business also collects data that can be graphed and downloaded to generate broad insights across a range of metrics.
We expect voice-activated automation tools to help streamline office administrative tasks, enabling greater employee productivity and efficiency.
High-Tech Marketing Initiatives
Omni-channel marketing strategies build on the existing paradigm of digital marketing, adding things like webinars and podcasts that generate an audience and provide opportunities for customers to engage with the business in new ways.
These high-tech marketing initiatives must be effectively supported by technology, including audio and video capabilities.
Sound Masking Solutions
The open office concept was introduced as a way of fostering inclusion and collaboration in the office environment, but that paradigm may be falling out of favor in 2020.
With voice-activated robots becoming more commonplace in office environments, quiet surroundings are now preferred as a means of fostering effective use of voice-activated software and devices. A sound masking solution for the office can help eliminate distracting background noises, boost employee productivity and better facilitate the use of voice-activated devices.
Smart Paging Systems
As workers are getting used to smart personal assistants, the role of a smart office assistant has yet to be totally defined.
One potential application for voice-activate robots in the office is smart paging systems that can automate and streamline communications with the entire office. A smart paging system can enhance office safety by enabling rapid communication with individuals and teams in different rooms and on different floors in a single location. A human or computer operator can leverage facility-integrated audio systems to broadcast emergency messages, alarms or special announcements.
Digital Signage and Wayfinding
Digital signage and wayfinding are a great way to make your office easier to navigate and more pleasant for visitors or guests.
Organizations that operate large campuses with several buildings, or who rent space in labyrinthine office buildings can take advantage of digital signage that makes it easy for guests to find a specific building, department, room or person. These devices can be motion or touch-activated to minimize their power consumption without compromising on service and convenience for users.
New Ways of Saving or Recording Information
Managers and employees at high-performance organizations frequently depend on e-mail as their main form of communication. However, many are realizing that back-and-forth correspondence can be reduced, and time saved, by scheduling a short meeting or even a phone call instead.
The trouble here is that while e-mails create a paper trail of what was agreed and who committed to what, meetings and phone calls do not, which can lead to a critical lack of accountability.
As a response, we’re seeing new technologies and software tools that make it easier to track and record the results of daily phone calls and meetings. We expect increased adoption of VoIP software tools with call tracking and tagging capabilities, along with devices like electronic whiteboards which allow colleagues to save and print notes that are written during a meeting.
Employers are increasingly recognizing the value of productivity gains that can be realized when workers are equipped with the tech they need to succeed.
As a starting point, multi-screen workstations enable workers in a variety of roles to multi-task more easily and accomplish more each day. With two or even three visual displays, a worker can engage their main task on one screen, access reference material on the second and monitor their e-mail for emergencies on the third. In 2020, we foresee that more offices will invest in workstations with larger visual space to drive worker productivity.
Audiovisual and mobile technology are evolving together, creating innovative new use cases for established technologies and enhancing ease-of-use.
With features like mobile casting, workers can easily broadcast video, images, documents or other media from their computers or mobile phones directly onto screens in the office, enabling faster collaboration and information sharing.
In addition to workstations with multiple screens, workers will benefit significantly from hardware upgrades that offer new ways of rapidly transferring and sharing information.
The idea behind distributed video is simple: position digital video screens or LED displays in any desired location within the office, then broadcast anything you’d like on a screen of your choice from a centralized access point.
Distributed video systems can enable new ways of collaboration within and between departments.
They can create new ways of conducting meetings, making important announcements or sharing important news about company developments.
Distributed video systems can also connect to customer areas like waiting rooms or retail space to deliver a combination of ads and entertainment.
Data-Driven Office Environments
Data-driven organizations are becoming the norm, as both individuals and departments are increasingly likely to be evaluated using metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs).
For sales or customer service teams whose activities and outcomes are closely monitored, offices are using visual displays to exhibit up-to-the-minute KPIs and metrics for the team, creating a sense of group cohesion as individuals strive to contribute to KPI attainment and the associated success.
Centralized Control of Audiovisual Systems
As offices increasingly deploy audiovisual equipment that supports their collaborative, productivity and business objectives, there will be a need to effectively control and secure that equipment.
As a result, we expect to see more offices adopting centralized control of audiovisual systems that will support effective operation of the equipment as well as streamlined inventory and asset management protocols. With the ability to centrally control audiovisual systems within the office, managers will gain unprecedented ability to adjust working conditions within the business environment to maximize productivity and worker satisfaction.
As the new decade begins, there’s plenty to look forward to when it comes to enhancing working productivity and collaboration in the office. New automation technologies and innovative use cases for audiovisual systems will lead to new methods of collaboration that harness employee creativity in brand new ways.
Hillman AV is uniquely positioned as a long-term audiovisual partner to help organizations of all sizes capitalize on the latest trends that are driving worker productivity. From centrally controlled audiovisual installations to sound masking and speech privacy, we offer end-to-end audiovisual capabilities that makes it easy for our partners to start benefitting from the latest technology right away.
Are you ready to start your next audiovisual project?