The Future of Work: The Innovations Enabling Mixed Working

Even as we begin to glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic, evidence suggests that many workers want to carry over the working flexibility that the pandemic afforded into the post-pandemic world.

Namely, employees are wanting to adopt a ‘mixed’ working style - spending time both working in the workplace, enjoying the office’s many benefits, as well as spending some time during the week working from home. A YouGov poll suggests that close to 40% of employees wish to continue to work from home some of the time post-pandemic - a fact that is supported by CIPD research .

Indeed, there is strong evidence to suggest that mixed or flexible working is highly beneficial for both organisations and employees, including attracting  higher calibre candidates, enhanced engagement and job satisfaction, reduced absenteeism and improved wellbeing, and quantifiable boosts to productivity.

Mixed working is undeniably here to stay. To help your company remain at the cutting-edge as we look towards a future defined by flexible working conditions, we’ve highlighted a few tech innovations that you could incorporate into your office space to create a truly future-proofed workspace.

Collaborative breakout area

Monitoring and Managing

As we continue to exercise significant caution when it comes to close contact with others, the shared workspace must be adapted to support the continued need for decreased density and increased physical separation.

The use of sensors in the workplace can be a powerful technological tool to make sure that your modern office places the health and safety of its employees at the forefront. Innovative sensors can not only monitor the density of office spaces and meeting room occupancy, but can also analyse temperature, CO2 concentration in the air, and noise levels - check out Workplace Occupancy’s office sensors for an example of the myriad applications and potential benefits of workplace sensors.

Monitoring technology isn’t just incredibly useful for managing the workspace, but also providing crucial technical insights into the nature of the space - and the way that it can be improved upon in subtle ways to create a workplace that employees want to flock back to.

As well as sensors, touchless technology can now be incorporated into office spaces, replacing surfaces like handles or buttons, addressing health and wellbeing concerns as the pandemic continues. BBC Worklife suggests the use of face recognition software instead of swipe cards, intelligent signage that can deliver specific messages to employees, or even QR codes attached to sit-stand desks that could be scanned to adjust height to accommodate different users, all without the push of any physical button.

The main boardroom at Houlihan Lokey

Bridging the Gap

Perhaps the most important tech component of a post-pandemic workspace will be a way to effectively bridge the gap between those working remotely and employees in the office. As we’ve seen, the future of mixed working seems to be leaning heavily towards models that allow employees a much larger degree of flexibility in terms of working from home versus working in the office; having ample technology to support teams in both spaces, bringing people together even while remote and making sure that company culture remains paramount, will be absolutely crucial.

Already, large software companies are producing incredibly helpful innovations to bring us toward the connected future of workspaces. Microsoft’s Surface Hub or Google’s Jamboard both strive to create collaborative virtual spaces that link remote and in-office team members. Microsoft have also showcased the future of the hybrid conference room a paragon of future-facing office design, featuring curved tables, projection equipment, specialised mics and cameras that give us a glimpse into the future of collaborative office spaces. It is a space that straddles the line between the physical and the virtual.

Google have announced a plethora of new innovations to support mixed working, including privacy robots with inflating cellophane balloon walls to create flexible spaces, ensuring that there is always a significant degree of further privacy that can be achieved within the office. Such out-there bits of tech may seem gimmicky at a glance, but closer inspection reveals a passionate drive towards the creation of a truly flexible workplace that can be adapted on-the-fly towards the needs of a much more flexible team of employees.

The feature staircase at Harman Innovation Hub

A View to the Future

There is already a vast amount of technology that exists to promote mixed working, and mixed working is definitely here to stay. Updating your workspace is fast becoming an absolute necessity as we look towards the post-pandemic world of work, characterised by different values and a wholly different style of working. Incorporating these innovations into your office is a crucial step towards creating a successful workspace that looks toward the future.