We asked representatives of corporations and businesses across a wide range of fields about precisely this. And every answer was an original. But each one also reflects to some extent the specifics of the field that the respondent works in.
Two of the respondents, in a rare bit of agreement, consider the same ingeniously simple (or simply ingenious?) invention to be the biggest benefit for their offices’ operations. You’ll definitely be surprised by what it is.
Q: What Do You Consider the Biggest Office “Improvement” of the Last Decade?
Tomáš Andera, head of Neocont ↴
For me the recent solutions for temperatures in buildings have been an awesome improvement in recent years. I had my first experience with them in Poland when I was filming a video about the Connected by Skanska operating system for smart buildings. This system lets people in a room vote on the temperature, and the application then sets the optimal temperature for everyone there, every time.
Pavla Nýdrle, Executive Director, Kindred (Publicis Groupe) ↴
It’s mainly all those tools for companies’ internal communication. From Slack to Teams and even Facebook. I see their importance right now as well with the current company-wide telecommuting we have in effect right now. But productivity measurement tools like Toggle count as well. Those virtual “time clocks” for time tracking.
Jan Kafka, Service Manager, Sharry Europe ↴
I worked for long years at large corporations, which gave me a chance to see modern offices with architecturally attractive solutions. But they all suffered the same syndrome with the same symptoms—the overcomplexity of managing the office environment, building access for both employees and visitors, and parking spaces, and outdated approaches to sharing information. The time spent creating tickets for facilities and security, and also escalating emails and determining current statuses, was just too much.
And so I consider smart buildings to be past decades’ biggest improvement of all. They’re a solution in which all the problem areas I mentioned can be managed very effectively from a smartphone, or on the web.
Ivo Hrdina, CEO and co-founder of JuiceUP ↴
People have been writing on the walls since the stone age, but this oldest of technologies only reached our offices within the last decade. No, we don’t write in charcoal now, but we’ve acquired a markable wall spanning half the room for our new offices... and it’s fantastic!
Alexandra Tomášková, EVP Operations Hungary & Czech Republic, Skanska Property ↴
I definitely consider the option of occasionally telecommuting to be a great “invention”; naturally it’s connected with the rise of digital tools such as Skype. When I’m working from home, I basically go nonstop, and I’m a lot more productive than when I’m at the office.
I don’t have any meetings, and nobody runs up to me with ad hoc demands, and so I can focus 100% on my work. And I also save the time I’d otherwise spend driving to work, and above all the tons of time spent pondering what to wear.
Ondřej Slavík, head of the Design & Build department, Colliers International ↴
According to studies by the Colliers Workplace Advisory department, over half the people in open space offices hear their co-workers’ private conversations while at work. On average, someone or something interrupts us in open-space offices once per eleven minutes.
That’s why I consider the “phone booths” that have become so popular in office environments to be one of the biggest inventions of the last decade. This invention, which lets you handle phone calls, video conferences, and more without distracting the people around you, has become an irreplaceable part of the furnishings in modern office environments. It’s been in use on the Czech market for several years now, and by now the majority of major office furniture suppliers have booths in their portfolios.
Tamara Bodnárová, fashion designer, TAM ARA ↴
I would say that the wireless speaker is my favorite gadget. Music is very important for me during my work, and so I appreciate anything that makes it easy for me to listen to it—for example the SoundCloud app. The mobile phone is another irreplaceable invention for me, since it lets me have my office anywhere in the world.
Veronika Pješčaková, Product Owner, Česká spořitelna ↴
For me the biggest coup of the last decade has been the new wall coats that let you use walls as a space to write on. It’s very practical, it supports individuals’ and teams’ work creativity, and it’s also one “invention” you can’t stub your toe on.