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Tim Shirt from office power and connectivity specialist, CMD Ltd, discusses how the digital native expectations of Gen Z will influence post-pandemic workplace trends.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and work for good. The conventional ‘office job’ no longer needs to be done entirely in the office, raising questions about what trends we will see emerging for the future office.
But the pandemic is not the only influence on office trends. Far from it. Developments in technology and the growing presence of Gen Z digital natives within the workforce, along with the agile working, homeworking and digital collaboration legacy of the coronavirus era, are creating a perfect storm for rapid change and increased tech integration.
Gen Z are the archetypal early adopters. Born after the arrival of the mobile phone, Google and online retail, they use technology intuitively and are hungry for new ways to put it at the centre of how they live, work and communicate. During the pandemic, this generation has been able to adjust most easily to the new tools and platforms we have all used because digital living comes naturally to them. As we consider the evolution of the future office and the impact of the pandemic on how we work and the tools we need, tapping into their requirements and the way they embrace new technologies will help create dynamic, appealing workplaces.
One of the key requirements is for rapid charging of multiple devices, both at the workstation and throughout the office environment. Apple’s adoption of wireless charging technology has been a game changer in terms of homogenising the tech required for wireless charging of any device. As this technology has become more robust, enabling charging of both phones and tablets, there is a more compelling case for integrating wireless charging within furniture, alongside USB charging and power sockets.
Use of technology to enable remote working during pandemic has highlighted the potential for cross-team collaboration. Gen Z employees are already comfortable with less formal, laptop-based working because of the study culture that has encouraged informal collaboration in break out spaces. This translates perfectly to the tech-enabled office, with a move away from traditional desk layouts towards formal and informal collaborative and quiet working spaces. Powerbank or wireless charging functionality built into furniture for break out areas and acoustic meeting/isolation booths allows workers to take a fluid approach to where they sit and how they work from day to day and hour to hour.
The technological evolution of the office will also require a focus on enabling multi-location collaboration via online platforms. Whether teams are collaborating across locations or from both office and home environments, offices will need to be equipped with sufficient data capabilities and A/V equipment to facilitate real time communication. This will include increasingly sophisticated document sharing platforms and collaboration software tools, along with A/V equipment. Consequently, compact units such as the CMD Linear, which combines power, charging, data and media, and the four-sided CMD Inca, which combines power, charging and data in a compact unit, will be go-to solutions.
New technology will also affect workstation ergonomics and desk size. While next generation large-format, curved screens are cost-prohibitive for most occupiers at the moment, as the cost comes down, we are likely to see a transition from the current dual monitor set-up to a single monitor with a split screen. What that means for the current wave of office refurbishments focused on social distancing and agile working is the need to take into consideration how this should affect desk and monitor arm choices in order to futureproof them. The Miro monitor arm recently unveiled by CMD Ltd highlights this trend with a 10kg load capacity and smooth vertical adjustment to allow for large format screens and smaller workstations.
Technology has already influenced the way office environments have evolved, but the legacy of the pandemic and the arrival of the digital native in the workplace it set to advance this exponentially. The challenge is for furniture and office power and connectivity specialist to collaborate effectively to deliver this brave new world.
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