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12 Hybrid Office Trends For 2022 and Beyond -Part 1: Technology

Hybrid Office Trends For 2022
Remote Work

12 Hybrid Office Trends For 2022 and Beyond -Part 1: Technology

We are passing through a “perfect storm” that is driving significant change in the workplace, impacting technology, management practices, company culture and people’s relationship with work. That storm is driven largely by the COVID pandemic and the large-scale transition to working remotely. In addition to bringing new insights, this dynamic also accelerated changes that were already underway in the landscape of work.

Remote and hybrid models are now a significant and enduring part of working. The talent shortage that existed before the pandemic has now become as severe as it has been in a generation. Over more than two years of working from home, people reconnected with family, hobbies and other non-work aspects of their life. We are seeing a shift in priorities that is changing people’s perception of work. With candidates in the driver’s seat in the talent market, companies must embrace these new priorities.

Technology makes remote and hybrid work possible. However, it quickly became clear that sending employees home with a laptop was not enough, and the technology industry has responded. Here are some of the key trends we’re seeing regarding technology for remote and hybrid teams.

Hybrid Office Trends For 2022

1. Greater Use of AI and Data Analytics

Artificial intelligence (AI) is appearing in more and more applications. One reason is that AI can gather and analyze data automatically, identify trends and exceptions, alert users and offer suggested actions. It’s also attractive because it can support decisions involving significant and rapid change. In addition, combining AI with business intelligence and automation can create a powerful uber-tool.

New applications may include:

  • Monitoring employee productivity both onsite and from home and suggesting new approaches.
  • Monitoring employee well-being, including predicting burnout so it can be prevented.
  • Supporting decisions about what new technologies may be needed in hybrid and remote environments.
  • Helping leaders know how much office space they need as well as the ideal layout for hybrid practices such as hoteling.

2. Demands for Higher-Quality Audio-Video Technology

There is an explosion of video communication underway, as it provides a safer alternative to in-person meetings. In addition to regular meetings within companies, video communication is being used in sales presentations, virtual facility tours, telehealth, training and education, conference events and other applications. Fuzzy images, frozen screens and garbled audio have no place in professional video communication.

That means companies will be compelled to invest in higher-quality hardware and software. It also should push developers of video solutions to develop products that minimize disruption, facilitate interactions and enhance users’ experience. Increased competition often drives innovation. We soon should see some very creative features emerge.

3. Increased IT Spending and Outsourcing

Remote and hybrid work are completely dependent on technology, and companies can’t afford to fall behind. Some companies will re-allocate money for infrastructure, applications and hardware. Others may opt for outsourcing, attracted by both lower costs and the chance to reduce complexity in IT. As in other applications, outsourcing allows you and your team to focus on core competencies while leaving the system work in the hands of external experts.

One emerging solution is device-as-a-service, or DaaS, in which DaaS vendors provide mobile devices to companies. However, instead of buying or leasing the devices, the company pays a fee based on how much each one is used. Vendors provide technical support and device maintenance, allowing customers to scale up quickly and upgrade easily to the latest technology.

4. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Other Innovations

As the notion of work-from-home evolves into work-from-anywhere, employees and leaders will seek out new ways to connect. Augmented reality (AR) is already used in manufacturing settings, such as glasses that superimpose images on equipment. That technology can be used to enhance interactive training, facilitate the use of multiple screens and boost productivity. Virtual reality (VR) is well-known to gamers and can provide remote workers with an immersive experience. Combined with natural language processing, sensors, and spatial audio, AR and VR have the potential to provide a seamless working experience.

5. Easier, Safer Online Security

Passwords are easy to forget and need to be changed frequently. Even when passwords are generated by applications and involve complex strings of characters, they still are vulnerable. Bill McGinty, writing for WCNC Charlotte, reports that in recent years, almost 7 million accounts are hacked every day. And let’s be honest: most of us don’t follow password best practices.

Improved sensor technology can work with AI to provide alternative and seamless ways to authenticate user identity. You don’t have to be Tom Cruise or Scarlett Johansson to use things like fingerprint, facial and iris recognition technologies. In fact, you probably use at least one of those on your smartphone, so you already know how convenient it can be. It’s also much safer than passwords.

6. New User Interfaces

Keyboards and mice have been the main interface between computers and users for decades, with keyboards still using the QWERTY layout developed in the 1870s for typewriters. However, these input tools may become obsolete soon as people adopt alternatives such as haptic pens and voice-to-text functions. With the addition of AI and machine-learning capabilities, applications can become familiar with user preferences, contexts and goals, and may thereby be able to construct entire messages with just a few keywords.

In addition, computer monitors are likely to become more sophisticated to serve as hubs for collaboration and multitasking. Because of this, we could see more examples of monitors that are portable and yet large enough to be user-friendly, such as folding ones. Will Starbucks respond by installing individual carrels in their stores to accommodate all these portable screens? That remains to be seen.

The perfect storm continues to rage, and it is also driving changes in areas beyond technology. Check back soon for Part 2 of this blog, in which I’ll explore trends in management practices, company culture and people’s evolving relationship with work.

References

McGinty, B (2021) How strong is your password? A professional hacker says probably not strong enough. Available from: https://www.wcnc.com/article/money/password-strength-security-against-hackers-work-business/275-11feac44-4472-479a-81da-f0ae8df69124. Last accessed February 16, 2021

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