How voice technology could change the office job post-COVID 19
THE NEW NORMAL
COVID-19 has forced us to look again at how we work. Hygiene in the office is of paramount importance, and we’re thinking twice about actions that were once second nature.
From using the door handle to pressing the lift button, communicating with colleagues to arranging desks; shared working spaces are presenting challenges we had never considered. These are challenges which voice technology could help solve.
So what might this mean for our day at the office? What could the future of co-working spaces look like? We take a look at six ways voice first technology could change the office job as we know it…
How could voice help provide a safer experience for everyone in the office? Could we really be heading for a touchless future?
COMMUTING TO THE OFFICE
As you prepare to leave home for the day, a smart speaker reads out the morning’s news headlines, then suggests a train ticket based on your calendar. You use your voice to purchase.
On the walk to the station, you ask a virtual assistant through headphones to check the train times. It’s a few minutes behind schedule, so you tell an app to place an order for coffee, which you pick up from a separate window.
ARRIVING AT YOUR WORKSPACE
Uttering a passcode to a listening device a few feet from the door means it opens as you approach, reducing queuing and enabling social distancing.
The building’s contactless pathway continues as you tell the lift which floor to take you to. You reach your desk and, with the help of smart plugs, turn your computer and lamp on.
TOUCHLESS TECHNOLOGIES IN SHARED USE AREAS
Putting the kettle on, opening the fridge, putting the dishwasher on, using the microwave or coffee machine – all these actions used to involve touch, but are now easily completed using your voice.
Action flows have been set up to automate common pathways. They also serve as hygiene reminders – for example, 10 seconds after you tell the toilet to flush, the hot tap at the sink turns on. Soap is dispensed, the water stops and, 20 seconds later, the tap turns on again.
ORDERING AND PAYING FOR FOOD
MEETING CULTURE TRANSFORMATION
Opening the blinds, closing the windows, holding the meeting room for an extra 10 minutes – all is voice-enabled for your team ideation meeting. A digital assistant has used natural language processing to learn your organisation’s audio brand and takes notes in a way which allows them to be easily reviewed at a later date. It already knows who’s in the room, so adds follow-up actions to their task management system once approved.
As the discussion becomes faster, a purple light flashes to alert the room that some people’s voices haven’t been heard for some time. Those who might have not felt confident enough to speak up are now invited to do so.
SECTOR-SPECIFIC VOICE ASSISTANCE
Completing your tasks might be enabled by a custom voice assistant. Walmart’s Ask Sam allows employees to access sales information, consult store maps, check messages and lots more, much quicker than touching a screen would allow.
At the very least, your internet searches are via voice. It’s become second nature to pick up your phone and ask your query, rather than typing via the touchscreen.
While it’s worth noting that voice technology will make navigating the world easier for people with some disabilities, those with speech or hearing impairments may be presented with an extra barrier.
This is where merging voice tech with other technologies could have a huge impact. It could lead to a world where voice technology works in tandem with other biometrics such as facial recognition, and is adaptable so information can be accessed using whichever method works best for the user. Visuals can be presented on multimodal devices, for example, or feedback delivered via haptics on personal devices.
STARTING THE CONVERSATION
Everything about how we live is changing to reduce common touch-points. As talking to everyday devices becomes more commonplace, there is likely to be a growing expectation that information will also be accessible via voice.
Your consumers, clients and customers will be looking for customer service, entertainment and more via voice technology in homes, offices, wearables, and cars.
While voice technology had most certainly arrived before the pandemic, the recent crisis has pushed its utilities and capabilities to the fore. As we head back to the daily commute and the office, organisations are considering how technology could ease the transition to ‘the new normal’. For many, voice technology could be the answer to the question of how to embrace a touchless future.