Designing Your Next Office: A Workplace That Will Know Who You Are, Where You Are And What You’re Doing

Researchers at Cisco and Microsoft are among the forefront of those exploring how technological change will reshape the topography of the office. The author of this article has worked with both organizations to understand and communicate to readers their vision of the office of the future. Cisco VP Dave Rosetti heads a group of 100 colleagues imagining the office of the future. Their vision includes “free-floating employees” who enter a building and search out empty “generic offices” near their current collaborative team. The offices are alerted to employees by their badges and automatically customize themselves so that e-mail accounts are routed to the appropriate PCs, the PCs adopt the employees’ Internet telephone extension and blank screened frames render the employees’ favorite images. To create this scenario the Cisco team is currently working on a technology called “presence” that will work on all your phones, PCs and handheld devices so that when someone phones or e-mails you, the connection is routed to whichever device you’re currently using.

Microsoft has a somewhat different vision of a future office where employees walk into meetings carrying laptops or handheld PCs that immediately establish a wireless connection to the nearest monitor or printer. It is a world of videoconferencing where cameras record each participant and broadcast meetings on the company intranet. Microsoft’s BestCom software operates like a secretary, able to read your calendar and have a good idea of where you are every moment. You will be able to tell it how you prefer to be contacted (phone, e-mails, IM) and by whom.

The author makes some insightful observations and the overall visions of these two cutting-edge companies makes for interesting reading.

Source: Brad Stone, Newsweek; April 28, 2003

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