Final word: Sam Moncada

COPA's Sam Moncada on the changing face of the office products industry.

Today’s office transformation is being driven by the never-ending need to control costs, particularly with new mobile and remote computing technologies. The economy is driving business and office managers to do more with less office space, fewer office supplies and fewer personnel. 

These managers have needs beyond basic productivity issues and require new efficiency tools and services from non-traditional vendors if they are to deliver. Mobile and remote computing are also changing the office landscape, forcing offices of all types to reorganise their physical spaces and sizes.

One word may define the office of the future: less. Employees can expect to see less usage, less reliance on wired technology, fewer people in the office, less waste and a generally more streamlined and productive space. Not only will it help reduce costs, but it may also make employees more productive, which can do wonders for morale.

With the emergence of new technologies, how we do business has changed rapidly over the past decade. New technology will continue to make our physical footprint smaller and give us greater flexibility. I have only played with an iPad a few times, but I have no doubt that in a couple of years we will all be working on a device like it, continuously connected with a device small enough to take anywhere. Not only is your office where you are, it is also at your fingertips and in your pocket. 

The office of the future will focus on: 

1. Innovative technology that provides cost-effective solutions, involving cloud computing, managed print services, maximising MS Office to provide shortcuts 

2. Sustainability: truly making a difference in the way we approach the environment and providing greater value for green office products 

3. Efficiency, which involves time management, leadership, project management and managing change that results in a better return on investment.

Over the next ten years the typical workplace will evolve dramatically away from cubicles and offices towards more casual, open environments in which many employees share equipment, supplies and space. The main driver of change will be younger workers who are highly adept at using the latest information technology who are accustomed to working anywhere, anytime and shun workspaces that feel formal, rigid and isolated. 

The way that management and employees work together on collaborative projects could look very different in the office of the future. If employees are enabled to work anywhere, anytime, from their mobile devices, a system would need to be in place to track everyone’s progress and divide up tasks. Management could use an interactive team dashboard to chart an individual employee’s workflow through their device. Employees could upload their progress and team members could share and post information, files and contacts through this central dashboard. This provides a simple, visual representation for all team members or team leaders to keep track of each other’s work and avoid redundancies, reducing the need for time-consuming progress meetings.

Planning today is mission critical. The skills we develop today need to have an impact right away and strategically help us in the future. Integrating an environmental sustainability programme into the workplace in the present can save future time and money. Evaluating employees’ performance based on accomplishments, rather than time spent in the physical office, accounts for the change in work/life balance that mobile technology has introduced. Understanding where business is going versus where it has been is the key. The future is now.