The future of workspace designing: AI, 3D walkthroughs and real-time collaboration

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Flexible workspaces are now perceived to be the future of workplace design that can also play a pivotal role in attracting and retaining talent

Workspace designing has been completely transformed after the introduction of smart, AI-powered tools in the past decade. Earlier, office layouts had hierarchical workstations based on predetermined designs that overlooked the working environment. These offices also had outdated management systems that depended on manual processes and lacked scalability. Here, ergonomic furniture and flexible workstations were rarely considered by interior designers.

In the new millennium, however, the importance of ergonomics has made architects and designers acutely aware of the need to pay close attention to workspace design and fixtures. While the transition to more comfortable workstations was already underway, the pandemic accelerated this process, highlighting the significance of safe, comfortable and hygienic workspaces.

As a result, immobile cubicles designed for inflexible 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM work hours have been steadily replaced with smart and flexible workstations built for hybrid work models and tech-savvy staff. Most changes in the office landscape are being propelled by AI (artificial intelligence) and the increasing use of smart technology, quickening the evolution of workspace design. The rise of work-from-home, remote work and hybrid work environments have also acted as tailwinds in this transition.

Personalised Workspaces

One of the biggest benefits of AI workspace design platforms is the promotion of personalised experiences that enhance employee satisfaction and, in turn, boost performance and productivity levels. This is achieved by using AI algorithms that decode novel behaviour patterns and preferences of each person. Employee preferences may include favourite desk location, frequently used resources, preferred meeting hours, etc.

Personalised workstations not only make employees happier but more productive too. In turn, this facilitates greater employee engagement and retention while promoting better collaboration. By customising workspace layouts, furniture and ambient lighting as per employees’ work profiles and inclinations, AI-enabled platforms cater to the specific needs of individuals.

Additionally, by offering managers and leaders actionable insights, AI allows them to optimise the use of workspaces. After analysing data on workspace usage, AI offers recommendations to maximise utilisation of office space and curb costs. Such guidelines are critical since inefficient space utilisation incurs unwanted costs while lowering productivity. This can happen when a meeting room is booked regularly but used infrequently, wasting resources. Similarly, overcrowded offices hit productivity and hurt staff morale.

Varied AI Solutions

However, AI can manage the above issues with real-time information on space utilisation, allowing leaders to make well-informed decisions on allocating resources efficiently. The suggestions could include detecting underutilised areas, recommending optimal schedules for room booking and even predicting potential space requirements.

Another major use of AI algorithms is in transforming 2D replicas into accurate 3D representations of space. Consequently, 3D virtual models are created via which designers can explore diverse design alternatives, experiment with layouts/spaces and check out several material and colour combinations.

Visualisation via 3D Walkthroughs

The use of 3D walkthroughs and VR (virtual reality) tools for workspace design visualisation is vital since it is challenging to visualise the overall space, its equation in the specific office environment along with its scale, functionality and general flow in the early design phase of any workplace project. Herein, real-time office modelling with 3D software provides a realistic, immersive experience of the planned workspace. Thereby, office owners can enjoy real-time “interactions” with their proposed space, giving them a robust idea of the design’s feel, function and look.

Modifications in virtually conceptualised layouts can also be done speedily with real-time assessment and changes. Thereafter, the changes can be previewed in real-time to check their suitability. Testing of various materials, textures, colours and configurations can also be done before approving the final workspace design for implementation.

Seamless Collaboration and Other Elements

Besides the above, seamless collaboration is another indispensable element in the modern workplace, wherein remote and hybrid work as well as work from home are common features. Yet, collaboration can often be challenging in dissimilar or distant settings. However, AI-driven collaboration tools help streamline communication, manage tasks efficiently and facilitate flawless knowledge sharing.

Modern workspace designers understand the criticality of real-time collaboration tools to keep BCPs (business continuity plans) flowing even during unprecedented events, such as the pandemic. With digital, connected, AI-powered, real-time collaboration tools, teams can work together virtually since it enables instant communication.

Apart from the above, sustainability has gained major attention from staff and other stakeholders as climate change consequences have become a global concern. Therefore, employees expect eco-friendly office spaces. Keeping their concerns in mind, modern workspaces use environment-friendly designs and materials that have more energy efficiency. These include smart, energy-efficient lights and other fixtures that conserve energy.

Smart office systems also help in monitoring and reducing the general consumption of resources (such as water and electricity) at the workplace. Alongside a reduction in the carbon footprint of offices, sustainable designs enliven the overall office atmosphere while augmenting the health and happiness quotient of employees.

In the post-pandemic period, flexible and adaptable workplaces can be extremely advantageous for companies. Flexible workspaces are now perceived to be the future of workplace design that can also play a pivotal role in attracting and retaining talent.

As mentioned before, AI can be crucial in providing flexible designs that accommodate requirements for remote work and hybrid work models. However, some potential challenges can arise relating to costs, data privacy and employee adoption issues.

Nonetheless, each of these challenges can be addressed and resolved individually. For example, data privacy can be ensured with strong firewalls and allied security systems. Upfront expenses can also be managed as flexible workspaces recover their costs within a few years of use. Finally, employee adoption could be encouraged by awareness campaigns on the personal plus professional benefits of working in future-ready, employee-friendly workplaces – all of which can boost the bottom line of companies.

(This article is authored by Tushar Mittal, CEO and Founder, OfficeBanao)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author/authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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