Cubicles are dying. Or they’re more popular than ever. Or we’re all going to work at home/by the beach/in a coworking space/on the Moon. The only thing experts seem to agree on is that the office is changing, and that it should: Cheaper, more productive work space is a good goal for both employees and employers.
Enter Cisco’s Connected Workspace, perhaps the (actual) wave of the future when it comes to the office.
What the Connected Workspace Looks Like
On the surface, Connected Workspace is a lot like an open office. Employees sit at wheeled desks that can be easily moved to form collaborative pods, or separated for more privacy. Each desk contains ports for mobile devices. No surprise, the mobile technology of choice is Cisco’s Cius tablet.
The tablet can be hooked into a monitor to act as a desktop replacement, or used on the go as needed for video, voice calls, or simple note taking.
“You can walk around with your entire world with you in this device,” says Cisco vice president Rick Hutley. “My laptop would often stay on my desk, but the tablet never does.” Hutley chooses his desk each day, just like his employees. If he (or they) need privacy, there are plenty of conference rooms at the edges of the open office area.
When used well, an environment like this should have all the benefits of open-plan workspace — flexibility, collaboration — with the privacy and autonomy of cubicle or office environments. In addition, Cisco hopes that its Connected Workspace will:
– Save money in real estate costs. Prior to adopting Connected Workspace, cubicles at Cisco were empty two-thirds of the time, as workers traveled or took meetings off campus.
– Reduce healthcare costs. Workers who move around more are workers who are less likely to develop diseases related to a sedentary lifestyle.
– Improve productivity — and plain old joie de vive. Prith Banerjee, leader of Hewlett-Packard’s research arm, seems positively delighted to point out that office technology has finally caught up with the cool stuff most workers have at home.
“We used to have boring stuff at work and more interesting technology at home,” he says. “Now office technology will make use of the same cool experiences and interfaces.”