The Future of Screen-Centric Workplaces

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This year, in partnership with Work Design Magazine, Survature is working to better understand nuances in human-technology partnerships. For the last several years, we have worked with designers, architects, CRE professionals, and corporate workplace experts to better understand what workers need in their workspaces to be more productive, focused, and engaged. Now we are taking the initiative to do a little of our own research.

Since 2017, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has been pursuing a national “Big Ideas” initiative through pioneering research and pilot efforts. Top among these “Big Ideas” is the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier. The goal of this idea is to “help shape the future of work to increase opportunities for workers and productivity for the American economy.”

Building on our past research, we were inspired by NSF’s initiative and began wondering what key topic could help shape new conversations within the design community as it relates to the human-technology frontier. After all, workspaces are at the epicenter of work and the human-technology frontier will be in the spaces that this community creates. We finally settled on the topic of screens and their impact on our work environments—present and future.

We created a questionnaire that revolves around a transformative (yet stealthy) change that has taken place over the last 30 years—the take-over of the human world by screens. This shift to a screen-centric world has been so powerful that “screen-addiction” is now a serious issue—especially among teens. Instead of counting how much time we spend looking at screens at work, it might be more efficient to count how many minutes we spend looking away from screens.

These are the questions we are hoping to shed a little light on through our study:

  • What are we doing inside this screen-centric world right now?
  • How are screens changing different functional spaces? When needing a “retreat” space, does it still have to be a “physical” space? What activities traditionally done in meeting rooms no longer occur in these spaces?
  • How are we managing the relationship between ourselves, our screens, and our colleagues?

Human experiences are the foundation of productivity, pride, and wellness within a workplace. If we only understand these experiences from the physical perspective, we are missing a big piece of the puzzle. It’s time to complete the picture.

Jian Huang is the Chief Executive Officer at Survature providing the vision for reinventing the way the world experiences surveys. He is a professor of computer science at the University of Tennessee (UT) researching data analysis, visualization, and human-computer interaction. His research has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy, the US Department of Interior, Intel, NASA, and UT-Battelle. Jian received his PhD from the Ohio State University.