'Incorporating tech vital to business - but so are people'
Tech support will soon replace the role of the traditional receptionist, according to Sheppard Robson’s award-winning interior design group ID:SR.
But despite this, associate Alison O’Reilly believes people still lie at the heart of the design process.
“Due to the rapid pace and change of technology, the only way to successfully provide seamless experiences for end users is to ensure workplace design keeps up with it,” she said.
“The big challenge with tech is that it is always changing.
“Technology we install will be different at the start of any project to what is in place when it completes.”
She added: “Take KPMG for example. The technology team at KPMG were fully integrated into the design process ID:SR carried out for them.
“They had a vision of being at the forefront of tech-enabled space and wanted the whole process to be really smooth, so part of their original vision was carried through with the design, construction and delivery.”
Alison also said KPMG embracing ‘mobtech’ helped dramatically: “By being flexible and forward thinking working with KPMG, we were able to be radical when approaching office space design.
“What that has resulted in is a completely open plan, which includes the directors’ desks.
“Partners have embraced it throughout all levels of the business; employees have a desk to go to, breakout meeting zones and comfortable spaces for quiet study. Collaboration spaces for team members have also been incorporated into the design.
“To add to that, personal devices need to connect easily with the building’s systems to enable a flexible environment.”
With the prediction that tech support will eventually replace the traditional role of a receptionist, Alison says health and well-being has been high on the agenda recently.
“As employers and employees wake up to the benefits of a healthy working environment – they actively seek to include features which promote well-being as part of the design from stage one,” she said.
“Sustainability is a huge focus at the moment and features are included into the building including the ability to monitor energy performance.
“The WELL Building Standard provides, for the first time, formal, quantifiable guidelines to advance health and well-being. Design features such as access to views and natural light, sitting/standing desks and relaxation spaces with Zen lighting are being introduced regularly now and more so than ever before.”
Again, using KPMG as an example, Alison said ID:SR now always works with an in-house tech consultant, or with a client as part of a project team.
"KPMG now has a digital room booking system so people can book the formal meeting room space in advance and check from anywhere who is booked in to a room at any given time. This also enables them to book meetings last minute.
“Support points are also available throughout the building so all guests are able to come in and log on straight away.
"Flexibility in the office design was essential to enable a new way of working and motorised walls were installed throughout to accommodate this.”
Summarising, Alison belies wearable tech is becoming more relevant.
“People are wearing technology which enables them to monitor everything from number of steps walked in a day to their heartbeat and stress levels,” said Alison.
“Wearable technology is even becoming more sophisticated and can measure happiness.”
She added: “All the features associated with office space design have dramatically changed the way our clients work.”