How can technology help us sort through the endless workplace options?

The basic premise of agile working is common ownership of the workplace. Agile workplaces offer employees a variety of predetermined activity areas for different types of tasks. Employees are also free to leave the office at will, and can be encouraged to work from home. It has been demonstrated several times that this sense of autonomy is good for the well-being and productivity of employees.

The effect of such autonomy, however, is not always positive. It has resulted in an increase in the number of decisions that workers have to make. They now need to actively determine which workplace will suit them best, often multiple times over the course of a day. Such increases in decision making can have detrimental effects on productivity and happiness.

People want to get to work as quickly as possible when they arrive at the office, but having to actively choose where to work can get in the way. Despite the fact that certain work environments have been proven to stimulate certain activities, requiring people to actively choose the best environment for their task every two hours is too much to ask. This is where technology can step in.

Suggestion-based workplaces 

Technology is able to give people a sense of control back and take away the fear of not having an available place in the office by giving people suggestions. The first step is to collect and collate data regarding variables such as workspace ratings and the factors that determine the popularity of a spot, mobility profiles, personal preferences related to personality traits and habits. Once data has been gathered, it can be used to form algorithms that can predict and determine ideal workplaces for the individual. Ultimately, technology will be able to differentiate the best match between a person and a workplace in the next five years. It then comes down to how much freedom you give people in choosing the perfect place. Do you direct them to this place, or give them curated suggestions from which to choose? This is a policy decision that should reflect a company’s strategy.

Technology will be able to steer people toward workplaces that suit them best.

Let me give you an example. In the future, technology would know how your day looks and present you with a selection of five spots for you to start working that day. This will continue during the workday. Employees start to experience that there is always a place for them and still have a certain amount of option and freedom choice. This is similar when we shop online, for example. You'll get three other suggestions that you might find interesting alongside the sofa you viewed. This will also happen when it comes to workplaces and meeting rooms.

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Author: Anne Wernand

Anne is a communication expert with an academic background in psychology. Ask her about copy writing, communication channel analysis or the best Dutch (music) festivals!

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