Are these terms familiar to you: workshifting, hoteling, benching, hotdesking,
and huddle spaces? If not, you are missing out on new opportunities
driven by the revolutionary changes in today’s workplace.
Over the past 50
years, the office has
undergone a number
of key evolutions. In
the 1950s, corporations
employees by department and seniority. Departments
were often assigned to a floor within the
office building, and employee desks were packed
into an open-plan space. Those with seniority (i.e.
the bosses) were provided special workplaces (i.e.
private offices) that overlooked the open space.
During the ‘60s, the office began a transformation
developed in Germany called Bürolandschaft. Private
offices were eliminated and large, structurally
undivided open plans with partitions became popular.
The concept behind the design was an attempt to
create an environment that increased communications
and allowed flexibility.
The 1970s introduced the Action Office cubicles,
which became the norm for most office environments
in the ‘80s and ‘90s. And of course, we can thank
cubicles for the creation of Dilbert, the disgruntled
office employee of comic strip fame. As new office
technologies became available, cubicles became
wired for phones, internet, and fax machines.
The 2000s brought about a wave of technology
that altered our personal and work lives, and
began to affect the changes we are seeing in the
workplace today. Key developments included Intel’s
incorporation of Wi-Fi in its Centrino chip (2002),
the launch of Skype and Live Communications Server
(2003), and Apple’s introduction of the iPhone
(2007) and iPad (2010).
Mobility has become a fundamental component of
today’s workplace. Mobile devices and connections
grew to 7.4 billion in 2014. Smart devices
represented 26 percent of the total number of mobile
devices and connections, but they accounted for 88
percent of the mobile data traffic. The quantity of
mobile-connected tablets is currently 74 million,
and each tablet generates 2.5 times more traffic
than the average smartphone. Tablets in use for
work and home are forecasted to reach 905 million
globally by 2017. Twenty-nine percent of today’s
global workforce is anytime, anywhere information workers.
This inter-connectivity is beginning to alter how
and where we are working. Wireless access from
almost anywhere for any device, communication and
collaboration software, and file sharing are changing
the way work itself is completed. Mobility no longer
means just outside of the office; internal mobility, or
working at multiple locations within an office—such
as a focus space, a collaborative space, a hallway, and
entryway—has become the norm.
Companies are trying to optimize costs by
reducing unused private office space while increasing
the space for collaboration. From 2010 to 2012,
the average workplace square-footage-per-person
dropped from 225 to 176, and it is predicted to fall
to as low as 100 square feet per person by 2017.
Office management strategies such as hoteling and
hot-desking are being implemented to help optimize
the efficiency of office space, while planning a
range of appropriate spaces that meet the needs of
the industry, organization, culture, work types, and
The physical changes in today’s workplace
environment, combined with the critical nature of
technology throughout the workflow process, are
creating new, mission-critical opportunities for
system integrators. But don’t give yourself a raise
quite yet; there are a multitude of areas where new or
refreshed sales and technical skills may be required.
On the technical side, expertise in mobile
technologies is critical. Experience in facility-wide
Wi-Fi and cellular access systems is vital.
Authentication and security issues will continue to
be major concerns. With the increasing quantity of
BYOD knowledge, experience in inductive charging
systems will be required to manage the large
quantity of devices. Network infrastructure design
and deployment experience will be required in order
to build a robust, flexible, and scalable technology
infrastructure backbone. As more and more
applications are being moved to the cloud, experience
in cloud services will be required. As collaboration
and open-space designs become the norm, acoustical
knowledge and experience will become even more
critical. Direct-field sound masking systems will
On the sales side, the ability to effectively discuss
and answer questions about total cost of ownership
(TCO) and return on investment (ROI) will become
an everyday occurrence. Five, four, and three nines
up-time service level agreements will also be part of
the conversation. Measurement, management, and
optimization will become required benchmarks for
Although the entry bar may seem high to these
types of opportunities, the rewards can be well
worth the investment.
R. Randal Riebe (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the director of
AV integrator business development at Polycom.
Workshifting is a term created by
Citrix that refers to getting work done
in the right place, by the right people,
at the right time. It doesn’t mean giving
your work to someone else.
Hoteling is not an extra room
that you can sleep in at the office but
an office management strategy, that
through reservation and a check-in
process, assigns workspaces to an
individual. By sharing spaces between
employees, a company can optimize
the efficiency of its offices, reducing
real estate costs and employing more
people in the same space.
Benching is not referring to an
activity at the gym, but a table-based
furniture solution designed for integration
into the new office environment.
The design is typically rectilinear,
mobile, and flexible, allowing
designers to create a variety of solutions
to accommodate a wide range
Hot-Desking does not refer to
setting your desk on fire, but is similar
to hoteling, where office assets such
as an office or desk are available on a
first-come, first-serve basis.
Huddle Spaces is not a new
football term, but refers to small
meeting spaces equipped with technology
designed to enhance collaboration.
estimates the total number of huddle
rooms around the world to be
between 30 and 50 million. That is a
lot of opportunity.