Form follows function is a design principle dating back decades. But should form and function be mutually exclusive in technology design of the future? The way we work is changing rapidly, from our office spaces to the tools we use. We think the future’s most exciting and powerful technology design will blend form and function seamlessly to meet the evolving demands of the workforce.
Form – the importance of craftsmanship
Deliver a more premium output. The look and feel of technology has a huge impact on our motivation, productivity and the quality of our work. Create with a sophisticated, premium tool and your output will be equally elegant.
Demonstrate your standards. The technology we use speaks volumes about our personalities. Use a well-designed, striking piece of machinery and people will expect similarly head-turning creations.
Function – the importance of design
Work more efficiently. With considered design, technology can simplify, streamline and enable you to you work without interruption.
Work more collaboratively. Well-designed apps like Asana and Slack offer high-functioning, user-friendly tools to make collaborating a breeze. Or the HP Elite range, with exquisitely crafted, functional features – like the Bang & Olufsen noise reduction speakers that make conference calls easy from the noisiest of places.
Technology designed for the future
So how will beautifully formed and functional technology blend in the office of the future? Here are a few of our predictions.
Advances in wireless engineering help us cut the cords to our desks, sockets and even our pockets – although Apple’s axing of the headphone jack hasn’t exactly received a standing ovation. Right or wrong, it’s a big move and could be a sign the wireless revolution is starting. Say goodbye to the rat’s nest of wires behind your desk and say hello to freedom.
Can you imagine being in the same room as someone thousands of miles away? With virtual reality, we’re getting closer to teleportation and it could make a huge difference to how we create, collaborate and communicate. Businesses could get more productive face-to-face time with remote partners, professionals could boost their skills with immersive training and employees could attend industry events much more cost-effectively. All from the comfort and ease of a meeting room.
AI is already changing how we do business with algorithmic purchasing tools, trend predictions and responsive workflow management programmes. But when robot technologies reach mainstream (and they will), we’re facing a workplace revolution. It sounds more sci-fi than science, but robot assistants or customer service agents aren’t such a remote possibility. European CEO of digital labour technology company IPsoft, Frank Lansink, predicts AI will replace 9% of the global workforce.
But executives need not fear a machine takeover quite yet, however. AI is still a long way off replicating the gut instincts needed to make important business decisions.
The office of the future will be more mobile than we can imagine. Assigned seats will be abolished in favour of hot-desking, working from the office rooftop or from the comfort of our home kitchen. And the technology we use will be designed to get us there – wherever ‘there’ may be. The devices of the future will be designed to be stunningly sleek and practically lightweight – portable, secure and connected.
Wearable technology like fitness trackers are commonly found in the home and also are starting to find roles in the workplace like monitoring employee health, wellbeing and stress levels. But beyond fitness trackers, other data-collecting wearables are helping workers become more efficient.
20% of employees at Epicenter in Stockholm have had chips inserted into their hands to make swiping into the office, setting the alarm system, earning loyalty points at local stores and accessing the gym that much faster.
At Tesco in Ireland, distribution workers have been given armbands to track product movements across almost 10 miles of warehouse, eliminating the need for clipboards and helping managers monitor completion times.
Wearables aim to improve worker wellbeing and productivity, but the impact on mental health and motivation must be measured in the future. Being kept under surveillance by Big Brother for eight hours a day could in fact achieve the opposite.
Remote working will extend the office beyond its bricks and mortar and technology will be flawlessly – and securely – connected to ensure there are no disruptions to our work and communication. Work streams will no longer have to suffer slow speeds or security obstacles and with extendable functionality, mobile devices will no longer be distanced from their desktop cousins.
Whether it’s technology that brings about human change, or human change that influences new technology, the office of the future will blend form and function with beautifully-designed, practical tools that inspire, liberate and empower their workforce to do great work, every day.