Health

The office of the future is a smarter, more productive one

Dean Evans Technology Writer Twitter

Much has already been written on the future of the office. Some say it’s hot desks and office sharing, others that we’ll be using local co-working hubs and virtual reality conferencing. Then again, we might not work in offices at all.

Wherever you work, wherever you work next, technology can help you make it a healthier and more productive space.

The health benefits of standing desks over sitting desks are well-known. Sitting for any length of time stops your muscles from burning off fat, negatively affects your posture (you can monitor this with a Lumo Lift) and slows blood flow, potentially slowing brain function.

Read: Are you sitting down? Then you’re doing it wrong

But while your eye might be drawn to the $5,900, gravity-defying Altwork Station, a simpler (and cheaper) solution like the ReadyDesk could help you transform an existing sitting space into a more comfortable standing one.

If you must sit, try not to stay in one place. Even if you have the latest ergonomic chair, use apps or timers to remind you to stand up and take a break, stretch your legs and rest your eyes. Consider transitioning from sitting in an office chair to standing for an hour, or switching to a different sort of seat, like a bean bag or an exercise ball.

Comfort can also hinge on less obvious factors, such as the office temperature and lighting. A study in the US has shown that workers in green-certified buildings “scored 26.4% higher on cognitive function tests… and had 30% fewer sick building symptoms than those in non-certified buildings.”

Chances are, you work in a non-certified building and while you can’t necessarily change it (or your office space), you can address some of the key Indoor Environmental Quality elements that contribute to a happy workforce, such as temperature, air quality, decor and lighting.

An untidy desk
An untidy desk can harm your productivity and wellbeing. (Image copyright: Shutterstock/thodonal88)

A gadget like the Netatmo Weather Station (Indoor Module), for example, can monitor noise levels, humidity, temperature and air quality (CO2), allowing you to analyse your work space in greater detail. While putting a plant on your desk has been shown to increase productivity and attention.

Comfort and convenience go hand-in-hand and there’s a balance to be struck between having a clutter-free desk and having everything you need close by.

  • Who needs a printer? With Google Drive and Google Docs you can now work in a truly paperless office. By keeping your important documents online, you have access to them regardless of location or device.
  • With an Aeropress coffee maker and an Ember mug you can make great coffee and keep it warmer for longer. (For tea, try an Teforia infuser, powered by Intel Edison.) All you need is a kettle.
  • With a Livescribe 3 Smartpen, you can digitise your meeting notes as you take them. No need to waste time transcribing.
  • With an Amazon Echo, you can select your favourite office tunes via Spotify, Amazon Music and TuneIn using your voice.
  • And with a modern 2 in 1 PC, like the Lenovo Yoga 910 or HP ENVY x360, you’re ready to work sitting, standing, or anywhere you like. Work in traditional clamshell laptop mode at your desk, then detach the screen to turn it into a mobile tablet PC.

For many of us the traditional office might not exist five years from now. Technology already allows us to work from anywhere. All you really need is a new 2 in 1 PC, wireless connectivity and some noise-cancelling headphones. But I’ll also take that Ember mug. My tea has gone cold. Again.

Main image copyright: Shutterstock/i3d

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