argodesign’s office of the future will not include Amazon’s Alexa

Jared Ficklin, chief creative technologist at argodesign, wrote about the office of the future for Quartz

Similar to the way laptops transformed the way we worked in the 1990s, radically new designs are transforming today’s workspace. How to create an office that is efficient and safe from distractions is a challenge, but argodesign has envisioned an office of the future that incorporates mindful workspace technology.

Speaking a command to a device in the middle of the room at home is fine but is not suitable for the office. argo’s solution is a voice computing pen called “Penelope.” This polite object includes a microphone that allows employees to discreetly inquire, engage, or issue commands. Penelope can also reply using words or LED light, sending messages to laptops and phones. Best of all, holding Penelope close to the mouth like a microphone provides a visual clue to co-workers that the request is being directed at Penelope and not them.

Although common workspaces are now designed in an open office format to promote collaboration, most workers remain heads down at their own desk. To foster better digital collaboration there is Gleam. Using interactive light and laser projection paired with computer vision and voice recognition, Gleam directs light onto horizontal and vertical surfaces to produce sharp and in-focus images. Turning any wall or desk into a shared display, the area becomes a space for presentations while simultaneously allowing for work to be created directly on the presentation surface.

Modern conference rooms are designed for presentation and negotiation, not collaboration. In contrast, Gleam-enabled tables sit against a wall rather than in the center of the room. An interface which projects horizontally serves as a cooperative interface while a vertical surface presents the coordinated result and can pin general information. Meanwhile, collaborators face the same direction and move forward on projects together. Say goodbye to projectors on one side of the room and swivel chairs designed to read information on screens. Gleam has transformed the workplace meeting.

The purpose of office lobbies is changing and to meet this evolution there is Dispatch, a lobby designed to facilitate arrivals and departures where train-station-like boards track rideshare services and public transport. In these lobbies of the future, everyone will know where their lifts are and the amount of time until departure.

And finally, SOLO is a cubicle in the cloud, or rather a desk that raises into a private cubicle near the ceiling, literally isolating employees. Workers can use the desk on the floor for collaboration and the cubicle up high for isolated focus. And when employees are at work in their elevated cubicles, Solo leaves behind an artificially intelligent “digital assistant.” The digital version of the employee monitors work-in-progress, calendars, and can answer scheduling questions. Co-workers can even come by to chat, allowing for the creation of a best-of-all-worlds office where focus, collaboration, and socialization are fluid.

According to Ficklin, offices of the future will eliminate that over-the-shoulder feeling where managers hover around desks offering unsolicited feedback. Distractions will be negated and employees will collaborate in new and exciting ways.

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