It’s no surprise that technology has had a massive impact on how we get work done, but did you know that it has also made its impact on where we work – specifically office costs. Not only is technology an enabling factor in the work environment but it has also helped us to work more effectively from almost anywhere.
Granted, it might not always feel like that because email and instant messaging never sleep but even those who worked in the days before the internet have a tough time imaging how things got done.
When it comes to the impact of technology on office infrastructure costs, a big driver is the move towards the gig economy; with it comes the rise of shared office space, collaboration, and even advancements such as 3D printing.
Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if you looking for a medical office for rent or a WeWork in Midtown Manhattan, today’s offices are designed to help diverse teams come together quickly and effectively. With that in mind, here is how technology is impacting office costs.
Sharing Comes to a Big Screen Near You
It’s not just for video conferencing either, shared screens are now being applied to whiteboards and even mega screens like the Microsoft Surface Hub 2, which now comes in sizes up to 80 inches. This means that information can now be shared on the mega screens throughout the office to promote the sharing of information. Instead of employing VMWare or Cisco (both come with huge networking costs), large display screens with wireless connections and sharing tools like Zoom can reduce office networking down to nearly zero after install.
In addition to the Surface Hub, office furniture company Steelcase is working on office amenities specifically designed for these mega screens. The hope is that the development of office fixtures which incorporate shared screens will help to enhance their utility and this will lead to even more offices adopting this technology.
Getting into and out of today’s offices can be tedious, not only does one need to pass through security gates in the lobby but there might also be a lock on the office door, the elevator, and even the bathrooms. By and large, the increase in security is a response to two developments – terrorism and cybersecurity.
In terms of terrorism, the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City highlighted the shortcomings in office security in the 80’s and 90’s. Among them was the relative porous nature of these building as most visitors were allowed to come and go as they pleased. Fast forward to today and this has largely changed as most major office buildings require entrants to either carry an ID card or to apply for a visitors’ pass.
But this is only one driver behind the push for tighter office security as the need to secure computer systems on site is another reason why getting in and out of today’s offices has become cumbersome. This stems from the fact that just about every computer on an office’s networks is vulnerable to attack either via its USB ports to the office Wi-Fi network – not to mention incessant phishing attacks.
What does this mean for costs? For starters credentialing and tracking has become an important element of office design. This can be seen by the need for passes everywhere you go as well as the use of open spaces which allow cameras and other tracking devices to follow one’s movement through the office.
Granted, the rise of these technologies has also led to questions about privacy and workers’ rights, but they have also made it possible to secure offices in a less obtrusive and more cost-effective way.
The Virtual Office
It used to be that an office needed to warehouse most, or all, of the information needed to run a business. This not only included the services where data was stored but also the mountains of paper which every business produces.
However, times have changed and these days, cloud technologies have freed up space for businesses. Gone is the need for massive filing cabinets, or entire libraries. This has been replaced by remote storage, virtual private networks, and digital everything.
This development has not only put information in the hand of the people who need it when they need it, but it has also reduced space requirements and allowed architects to reimage office layout.
What’s Coming Next
The reality is that technology’s impact on installation costs is just getting started. Emerging developments such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) are already starting to make their presence known. This includes the rise of virtual assistants which combine the use of IoT devices and AI to help office workers be more productive.
Now, this probably doesn’t mean that the office of tomorrow will look exactly like something out of The Jetsons but with each passing day we are moving towards a world were work without the assistance of technology will be unthinkable.