In the past, employees worked around the limitations of the office space. They compromised with it. They learned to survive working in windowless, gray cubicles. They bought headphones and fans; they brought in sweaters and little mementos of life outside the cube. They put up posters that looked unconvincingly like windows. They went outside to make personal calls or chose to hide out in the bathroom for a few minutes of meditation and grounding.
But the next generation of workers will be less tolerant of compromises and workarounds. If your workspace is going to be comfortable, homelike, and inclusive, says Envoy’s Larry Gadea, you have to do better. And he has a clear idea of how that will look.
"The evolved workplace will work for you, so you don’t have to work against it or around it," says Gadea. "It will be responsive—it will know your problems and needs before you do."
As an example, Gadea imagines interactive, personalized messaging screens on every wall of your workplace, which employees can interact with to get real-time information. "You don’t have to check the mailroom or run around the office to get a meeting room. It’ll tell you if you have packages waiting and which rooms are available. If you have a bigger or more complex office—or you’re just visiting for the day—it could give you directions to your next meeting."
Gadea sees these smart screens as contextual, streaming information that’s specific to the employees in the areas in which they’re placed. "If the screens are near the engineering team, you might see their project boards or real-time progress toward goals. You’ll see when it’s a co-worker’s birthday. We’ll have location-based self-service for IT, HR, and other departments, so employees don’t have to wait to get what they need."
But what about sensitive information? "We’re going to make it easier to be transparent while keeping your information secure," he says. "In the same way that some workplaces have sensitive areas where only some employees can go, we should limit what’s displayed, dependent on who is viewing a screen."