When it comes to technology of the future, Hollywood has shown us the good, the bad, and the ugly. While we’ve luckily dodged some of its scarier predictions, it hasn’t been totally wrong.
Things that once seemed otherworldly—like instant messaging, teleconferencing, and video calls—have become an everyday office necessity.
But most companies want to make their offices more comfortable and collaborative. To do so, they’re making their offices smarter. While that means installing smart locks, thermostats, and IP-enabled light bulbs, office technology won’t stay so simple for long.
So let’s hop in our DeLorean, set the date to 2029, and see some of the technology and equipment you might one day be expected to manage… or worse… troubleshoot.
Office robots and drones
Ever wonder what it’s going to be like to have robot coworkers? Your work life will likely get way easier—and way more productive.
Rolling receptionists can greet your guests at the door, deliver packages to your desk at the back of the office, or help you virtually attend meetings when you can’t make it in person.
And don’t forget drones are robots too. One day they’ll be an active part of office security, provide wireless internet access, and maybe even deliver a coffee to your desk.
Smart desks and chairs
These days, standup desks feel like ancient technology. And while being able to sit down or stand up at the push of a button is awesome, having an interactive desk powered by AI is better.
Best part is we’re already seeing them on the market.
Desktops are becoming… desktops. In high-tech offices, monitors and laptops are disappearing, and all computing work is being done on desk surfaces. And desktop AI doesn’t stop there—it’ll even track how long you’ve been sitting and standing, and connect with fitness trackers and smart watches to see how productive and alert you are.
Even office chairs are getting smarter—thanks to self-parking chairs, you’ll never bruise your shin or stub a toe on a rogue chair your coworker forgot to tuck in again.
Smart staff kitchens
Free snacks and coffee just won’t cut it in the future.
Instead, office kitchens will require smart fridges and smart coffee makers—which both rely on being connected to a network 24/7 to access their full range of features.
Smart fridges let users access the internet from the front door, create grocery lists, order new supplies, and notify Slack when the door is left open—it’s an office manager’s dream.
And you’ll never be disappointed by going to get a coffee only to find an empty pot. Smart coffee makers can notify Slack when a pot of coffee is done being brewed, and sync up with smartwatches and fitness trackers to let employees when they’re ready for (another) cup of joe.
Nicole Lee of Engadget says it’s “the Slack of the future,” which seems like a stretch, given how integrated Slack is in daily office life. But that’s what AI meetings are trying to become.
And virtual reality is making it possible.
You could create an avatar, pop on a headset, and have a face-to-face meeting with your colleagues or a prospect on the other side of the globe. It adds a more personal element to traditional teleconferencing.
With everyone walking around with VR headsets, we’ll have to develop tech from a Disney movie to make sure we’re keeping our office spaces safe.
So what comes next for office technology?
Whether it’s smart fridges or robot receptionists, future offices are going to be very automated. And sure, you’ll have to manage the mega networks these offices run on, but just think of all the fun we’ll have.