We’ve written a lot on the future of the workplace and how our modern workplaces are making massive leaps forward. But what about workstations? When was the last time you saw a desk with wireless charging? What about a sit-stand desk? While some of these innovations may be more likely than others, it’s important to get to the granular level of workplace innovation. Getting to the details allows employers to provide employees with the best in workplace productivity tools.
We know that employees want the latest in workplace technology, and their desk is the best place to start with this. It makes sense, when we look at the evolution of workplace technology in the last 10 years. The devices on our desk that have changed the most – yet the desk itself has changed very little.
Death of the Desktop
Take computers to start with, the desktop is dead – save for those that require a lot of processing power. The rest of us have migrated to laptops – which first require less desk space, but also come with their own unique requirements. If you are using a laptop as second screen you may need a laptop stand to ensure that your configuration is ergonomically positioned.
Cutting the Cord
But personal computing is only one way that the modern workstation has changed. Remember that desk with wireless charging? Phones at the workstation level are drastically different as well. It’s only a matter of time before landlines are completely scrapped at the individual level for employee smart phones. For digitally native companies like Facebook – landlines are the employee level are not used, but even larger companies are now adopting the practice. KPMG has scrapped desk landlines for broadband connections – employees can connect to calls with thier laptops and mics. Applications like Slack or Skype for Business make calling other employees less critical as instant messaging is available on these platforms.
Back to the desk. How is this all reflected in a workstation? There is an incentive to shrinking desk size. Cost savings accrue if desks sizes can be reduced, as less equipment is required on the desk itself (like landlines). Smaller desk size means more employees per square foot.
But it also means that desks should adapt to employee needs. If employees are going to be using smartphones for work calls and checking emails at work then workstations should be equipped with appropriate infrastructure. I’m not talking about a USB at desk level because let’s face it – we all forget our charging cords in a hot-desking environment. Rather, a desk with wireless charging built in allows employees to charge their phones simply by placing it down on the desk. Because wireless charging is installed beneath the table surface, the top still remains usable when phones aren’t charging. The usable space on top becomes pretty critical when you think of the fact that shrinking desk space will save you dollars in terms of space required.
We’re not saying that the desk of the future should look like the image below (the $21,500 Emperor 1510 LX, reported on by arts technica). Rather, functional improvements that support the type of work being completed in offices today should take precedent. Things like sit-to-stand flexibility that support the need for people to improve wellness, or better ergonomic setups for laptops. Smartphones, as opposed to landlines, is going to be the next big shift at the desk level in offices. We should support employees in these environments with proper wireless charging infrastructure.