What’s today’s biggest driver of workplace change? Millennials get plenty of credit, but if you said “technology,” you win the prize. It’s easy to get the wrong answer. Surveys show millennial work styles favor mobility, and the increased use of mobile devices is driving a merger of audiovisual tools and IT systems — two areas of workplace technology that have long been “siloed” from one another, says Nancy Trefny, associate principal for Cerami & Associates, an acoustics and technology consulting firm in New York City.
These trends augur more changes in how office spaces are designed and outfitted, adds Trefny. “It no longer makes sense to invest $100,000 in a high-definition video conferencing rooms, for example. Everyone involved could be using a smartphone or tablet, whether at their desks or at home, to hop on the conference call,” she said in an interview at the recent InfoComm expo. Trefny chairs the professional education committee for the expo’s host, InfoComm International.
Trefny points to macro trends, too, such as a PwC survey concluding that about 40% of millennials prefer electronic communications at work over phone or face-to-face interaction.¹ Moreover, what were once two separate positions — director of AV and director of IT — are now frequently combined into a single “director of technology” role — further evidence of the merging of mobile tech, audiovisual systems, and workplace IT.
Another major trend Trefny and the firm Cerami are tracking is the use of better, smarter technology for the small collaboration spaces and “huddle rooms” used in many workplace designs. What’s better and smarter? It is appropriate, effective technology solutions, says Trefny. For example, consider providing simple USB connections for audio and video, everywhere; and installing short-throw projectors, to enhance videoconferencing and presentations in small spaces.
“The focus right now should be on infrastructure,” Trefny emphasizes. “Workplaces need proper infrastructure to support current and future technologies, which change so quickly. From a knowledge perspective, end-user companies and their suppliers need to agree on the challenges ahead. Both are essential for better, more cost-effective solutions for the future.”
1 PWC, “Millennials at work, Reshaping the workplace” (pg 4)