From Paris With Love: 10 Innovations For Your Future Workspace

“France must fully get back to work,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a national televised speech on June 14. “We must work, and produce, more.”

For many in France, as the lockdowns from the Coronavirus pandemic slowly wind down, people are eager to get back to work. Whether the majority of this work happens in their offices, or virtually from home, remains to be seen.

According to our recent survey, 79% of French people are afraid of going back to work because of Covid-19. So, how do we combine the fun and social office trappings we've all grown accustomed to, with the health and safety precautions needed to safely reopen offices?

We have compiled a small list of innovations that will make the offices of tomorrow.

1. The cyber coffee machine

Getting coffee in future will be a much smarter experience. No need to touch the machine when you can order your coffee from your phone. “On my smartphone I will be able to find all of the drinks I used to drink every day. And presto, I trigger my coffee from the app," explains Yann Simon, co-founder of Brâam, a French SME that distributes these smart machines.

2. Occupancy data at your fingertips

How do you know how your desks and work stations are being used? Between telework, flexible schedules, and other changes in organizations, it can be difficult to assess usage and occupancy measures. Having this information will help you make decisions about your real estate needs. So, 200 square feet divided by 25 on Monday and 36 on Tuesday… Don't worry! There are tools capable of telling you in real time the occupancy and density rate of your workspace.

Operators like Myseat or Jooxter can provide you with reliable and sustainable sources of data on the occupancy of your workspaces. Ideal for an evolving real estate strategy.

3. Futuristic (and functional) lighting

Welcome to an intergalactic world where the switch gives way to smart lights. Lights that turn on with infrared presence detectors allow you to save energy, among other things.

Nanoleaf light panels are made up of small colored squares that can be arranged in whatever shape and color you want. Go directly to your lamp to turn it on and off, or to vary its intensity. If you prefer not to have to speak to an object (we get it), you can control settings via your smartphone.

Do you prefer more subdued lighting? Check out the smart Hue range from Philips, complete with voice assistance. Let there be light!

4. Warmer, cooler, cleaner air

Air conditioning is great for removing odors and purifying the atmosphere, and now it's smart too. For added ventilation in your home or office, check out this selection of the best portable units you can control from your phone.

5. Drink in "contactless" mode

The drinking fountain, that long-time office staple, is also undergoing serious innovation.

As with the cafeteria, lighting, and air conditioning, you can now find smart water fountains. Through the app, you can use adjust the water temperature, choose still or sparkling, and have the water dispensed at the touch of a button. The best part is that it connects to the water main, so no heavy lifting required.

6. Have lunch at the smart pantry

Foodles and Popchef, two Parisian startups, offer smart refrigerated pantries. Every morning, fresh dishes are delivered to your company's fridge, your teams just have to make their choice through a mobile app, which unlocks the contactless fridge.

At Knotel HQ in New York, we're big fans of Fresco Frigo for daily selections from the best local eateries.

7. The screens of the future

You are in a meeting and it's your turn to present. “I don't have an HDMI output”, “Does anyone have an adapter?”, “No signal!" We've all been there. Skip the hassle and lost minutes with Airtame and share your screen in two seconds via Wi-Fi — even control a screen remotely!

The future also has some surprises in store, like virtual screen, which will allow you to type in the air like on a keyboard.

8. Disinfecting is protecting

Check out UMANO for touch-free disinfecting, a hydroalcoholic gel terminal with an infrared sensor to detect hands.

BRAAM, the company behind this French innovation, is donating 100% of the profits of hydroalcoholic gel sales to support the important work of the Astrée Association.

9. Open sesame: the contactless keychain

Slowly but surely, everything is going contactless. But what about doors, toilet seats, faucets, elevators? In the absence of smart technology (for now), perhaps it's worth considering a hook?

Yes, you read that right. A multifunctional hygienic personal hook made of an antibacterial material to destroys all traces of viruses. And yes, it looks as cool as it sounds.

10. Keep your distance

If you need a little help with those personal space boundaries, Ubudu has launched a "social distancing assistant." It's very simple, every time you cross the minimum safety distance between you and your colleague, a ringtone will sound from your Ubudu box.

Hanging around your neck, in your pocket, or attached like a watch around your wrist, Ubudu allows you to keep yourself and others safe. The gadget can also keep track of the chain of contamination in that event that a case of COVID-19 is reported in your company.

As you can see, the office is set to become pretty darn smart. As the world changes at great speed, look out for these innovations in your daily life in the not-too-distant future.