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With the year almost coming to a close, IT departments and office managers across the country are looking to 2017 to plan their newest technological additions to the office. Set to be an exciting year for tech, software and all things office infrastructure, Alistair Millar, group marketing manager at Altodigital has identified the key trends for 2017, and the developments that you can expect to see in existing tech very soon:

VOIP next steps

There has been somewhat of a VOIP revolution over the past half-decade. Phone systems of old have been swapped out for cloud-based systems of the future. The benefits for taking phone systems onto the web have been well publicised, with massive savings compared to previous systems. On top of this, customer service is usually fast and helpful for when your office is in phone meltdown. With the market now awash with choice, if your office hasn’t yet switched to a cloud-based phone system, it certainly should soon or your business could run the risk of being behind the curve.

VOIP is no longer a foreign word to businesses and it isn’t just IT managers that know what it means. With the continued rise in how VOIP works and its clear advantages using a VOIP system, we could very well see the death of traditional phone lines for businesses.

Mobile transition

Smart phones have revolutionised the way we communicate. No longer simply for calls and texts, our devices now hold the computer power of a desktop of old. With this said, it seems peculiar that more of us do not use our devices to carry out our work. Of course, emails and calls are all often handled on our mobiles, yet beyond this the work functionality seems to dry up. Considering the hardware available, there is a use deficit, yet this is about to change. Firms are developing better work apps and spaces are becoming more mobile friendly. To elaborate, desktop spaces may well have their own mobile ports to keep all of your work devices well and truly in sync. It has taken a while, but smartphones are striving at last for full work functionality. This means no more lugging a heavy laptop on the train whilst commuting, it will all be available on your phone.

Hybrid Spaces

An era of open plan has been in full swing for quite some time. Collaboration and communication was initially said to be complimented by such a setup, yet there is a recent scepticism surrounding open plan offices, and pushes by some to originate back to more traditional office set ups. The result in many large firms has been a hybrid: a combination of open plan, closed plan and everything in between - depending on the particular space and what it is being used for. It seems there is no longer a one-size-fits-all office, and a more hybrid set up is likely to make its way into your office sooner rather than later, so expect to be trialling meeting pods very soon.

Eco

Once fad, now fundamental. A greener office has now become a mainstream target for workplaces across the country. The rise of workers’ environmental conscious paired with the surge in smart tech means that our offices are on the right track, with 2017 set to continue the green curve towards a true eco-friendly workplace. Smart thermostats can save gas, whereas the rise in sensors and the so called ‘internet of things’ means just about everything can be measured, from paper usage to water consumption. Measurements like this allow for reflection and along with initiatives like a paperless office, can lead to the changes of office behaviour, so get ready for an even greener office next year.

Facebook at work

Facebook is nothing short of a global phenomenon, with 1.7 billion active users every month. Whilst Facebook is hardly endorsed in the office environment, the upcoming Facebook at work most certainly will be. LinkedIn and other professional networks have been around for a while, and whilst these are great for networking and general career prospects, they have little communication benefits. This is where Facebook at work may well take off. With so many users already on the main Facebook platform, workers will be able to easily start using the service. With groups and chat functions said to be a cornerstone of the service, workers will have an instantly recognisable way to communicate, with extra functions built from the ground up, with business in mind. Facebook at work is one of the major talking points of 2017 productivity, and it may not be long until you’re placed in a group!

These are just some of the technological products that will change the way we work in 2017. I am sure that when I write this for the 2018 trends, we will be working in a very different way, using social media to increase productivity not decrease it and the rise in paperless offices.