The Office of the Future is Closer Than You Think

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Your business will soon be riding the wave of digital connectivity thanks to the Internet of Things. The office of the future awaits!

Being a history buff and avid fan of the TV show Mad Men, I would watch every episode with interest about how they went about doing business “back in the day.”

No word processing programs, but typewriters. No digital video, but 16MM film. The absence of cell phones. The absence of the internet and personal computers. All the common place elements that make our professional (and personal) lives so efficient and much easier today, makes doing business a few decades ago without technology, sound like the story of walking to school, up hill both ways in the snow.

The way we do business has come a long way since the Mad Men era. In fact, in the year 2008, there were more devices connected to the Internet than there were people. The Internet of Things, or IoT as it’s known is becoming more and more apparent. Stephan Haller of SAP Research has been defining IoT as “a world where physical objects seamlessly integrate into the information network, and where physical objects become active participants in the business process.” 

By 2020, there will be more than 200 billion things connected to the Internet. No longer is the smartphone the sole object that’s connected to the World Wide Web. Everything from coffee makers to vehicles are talking to us and to each other. In the home and in the workplace, the Internet of Things dominates the way that we live. For many people, how we live is defined by how we work. 

While the benefits of IoT are hotly debated, there is little disagreement over the realities that IoT is quickly approaching, and that it will transform how work is done. Here’s a few areas that IoT will greatly redefine our professional lives.

Related Article: The Internet of Things: What Does It Have to Do With Business?

Smarter Offices 

By 2025, experts predict that nearly everything we own will be equipped with a sensor, and that the number of wearable data devices will increase significantly. In fact, smart dust or computers smaller than a grain of sand have already been invented and are being added to devices and the environment. 

Doors may be equipped with sensors that offer added security, printers and other supplies will be able to self-order when they start to run low on critical materials like paper, employees will be able to display presentations to their coworkers on their smartwatches, and as such, the workplace will be smarter and more efficient.

Smarter Employees

Online onboarding and training is becoming more of a necessity than a simple reality. With IoT you’ll be able to hire great employees and train them  faster, more efficiently, and with a much greater assurance that the time invested will not be wasted or become redundant in 6 months. Combined with IoT, online training courses offered by companies like PluralSight, Dev Mountain, and Fedena are changing everything from compTIA training to UI/UX design. 

Enhanced Scheduling

With nearly everything connected, enhanced scheduling makes showing up on time easier and more efficient. Imagine an employee who has a 9:00 a.m. meeting scheduled. The meeting is pushed back to 10:00 a.m. Rather than the employee showing up to the office an hour early, the fact that the meeting was pushed back an hour will be communicated to the employee’s alarm clock. The clock now allows the employee 15 more minutes of sleep, but not the full hour — the extra 45 minutes are being allocated to filling the car up with gas, avoiding the car accident on the highway, and picking up coffee (it’s the employee’s turn), all which the alarm clock already knows about, thanks to different devices “talking” to one another.

When the same scenario above is applied to a business, deadlines will be met quicker, tasks  completed sooner, and every second optimized; wasting time will become a thing of the past.

Related Article: What Is Fog Computing? The Low Down on Cloud Computing's Newest Iteration

Dramatic Altering of Manufacturing

By 2025, it’s estimated that the global worth of IoT in manufacturing will fall somewhere in the ballpark of $2.3 trillion dollars, and for good reason. IoT in manufacturing, where 40.2 percent of IoT is currently located, provides companies with essential data to track inventory, save costs, improve worker safety, maintain and repair machinery, and more. 

Of course, IoT will also be used directly for manufacturing itself in the form of robotic machinery. Manufacturing will also become more environmentally friendly — reducing emissions and increasing energy efficiency — as well as being substantially cheaper.

Dissolution of the Office As We Know It

One in five Americans already work from home. That number is expected to increase 63 percent in the next five years, and 92 percent of millennials say that they would work from home if they could.

With the increase of IoT, working from home may not just be a possibility, but a way of life — the elimination of the office as we know it is a realistic possibility. Nearly all devices will be able to be managed remotely, and being confined to one location will be a thing of the past. 

Ola Kristensson, UK lecturer on human-computer interaction from the University of St. Andrews predicts that by 2025 people will be able to write on their mobile devices as fast as they currently can on full-screen keyboards. This adds to the idea that working remotely is conceivable, if not likely. Combined with the drastic changes mentioned above, the office in essence will be wherever you are sitting, laying or standing.

Our present day work environments will be gone even faster than the office environment of Mad Men. Rest assured however, that doing business is here to stay. If we keep on top of it, our place in the professional world will remain too. Our jobs will just get more exciting and we’ll have more tools for success than ever before.

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