Tech Trends and Supportive Workplaces
Gestural interface, the cloud, big data…if you're like most, you may have heard that these trends are rapidly impacting the ways we work. You might wonder, "How does someone creating office space begin to integrate these concepts into the design process?"
Here's the good news. Most people involved in the design and management of facilities don't need to become experts in technology. More important is an understanding of the emerging behavioral patterns that today’s technological trends are creating. The winds of technology might change quickly, but the emerging behavioral patterns that result tend to build over time.
Here's an example. You may have heard of terms such as "touch interface" and "desktop video." Touch interface devices can be controlled by touch rather than a mouse, and the term desktop video describes video conferencing tools such as Skype or FaceTime that are used on touch interface devices. But what do these devices and applications have to do with planning an office space? If we look beyond the terms to the behaviors, then the answers become clearer.
iPad use is a perfect example. People use iPads differently than laptops. A laptop wants to rest on a surface, but people usually hold a tablet just below shoulder height so they can touch it with the other hand. This behavior is well supported in a lounge chair or sofa but gets tiring after a few hours. Using an iPad for a Skype call also changes the user's behaviors. Instead of having the person on the other side of the call look at the caller's chin, people are inclined to push the device back and up so they can be seen from a more flattering angle. Check out this article on the rise of "chin-plants," due in part to this phenomenon.
If people planning facilities understand these behaviors, they can begin to accommodate technology use in the workplace. As an example, consider a tablet arm, which allows the person to quickly snap the tablet in when he or she arrives at the workstation and pull it close to control it without having to hold it for a long period of time. When it's time to chat on video, he or she simply pushes the tablet back and up. The workstation anticipates and enables these behaviors, and that’s the whole point of a supportive workplace.