How robots can help boost employee happiness and productivity

There has been a lot of concern about robots stealing our jobs; but a new piece of robotic technology could not only help people to stay in work, but make them happier while doing so.

According to Business Insider, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been trialling a new scheme at its Sloan School of Management that allows employees to work from home at least two days, with the option of making an appearance in robot form if they feel like they're missing out on the fun.

The growing trend for flexible working means that more workers are choosing to work remotely; but it can lead to feelings of disengagement and a sense of disconnect from colleagues and office events.

Luckily for staff at the MIT, they can now use a robot on a wheels - featuring a live web-cam screen on the top - to feel as if they are really in the office, and to remind others that they still exist. Remote workers can control the robot from their homes, moving around the office freely to join in with meetings, collaborative projects and even hang out on lunch breaks.

The program's executive director, Peter Hirsch, saw the technology being used during a conference last year and could immediately see the benefits.

With video conferencing, he explains, remote employees can often become 'just a face on the screen' and get ignored by others in the conversation. But because these movable robots take up a physical space, it's almost as if that person is actually in the room.

He was also surprised at how quickly staff adapted to having them around the office, despite their amused reactions initially.

So, as more and more people choose to work remotely, we could see more of these robots cropping up in offices all over the world - not replacing humans, but improving our working lives.


Museum of the Future will feature world's first 3D-printed office

In an entirely appropriate turn of events, the Museum of the Future in Dubai is due to have its main office built and furnished using only 3D-printed components, making it the most functional printed building on the planet, the psfk website reports.

The Museum of the Future, still currently under development, is set to be a high-tech tourist destination showcasing the United Arab Emirates' focus on modern architecture and 3D printing technology.

The 2,000 square foot 3D-printed office will act as an icon of the region's dedication to innovative structural thinking, and will be made with components printed from a 20-foot 3D printing machine, which will be assembled on site.

Initially it will be used as a temporary workspace for the museum's members of staff, providing a flexible interior that can be used by teams of various sizes and for different purposes. It will then be used as an event space when the offices move to their permanent location.

3D printing is being hailed as the future of construction, with experts stating that it can reduce construction times by as much as 50-70%, lower labor costs by up to 80%, and save between 30-60% in construction waste.

Commenting on the Museum of the Future project, H.E Excellency Mohammed Al Gergawi - chairman of the UAE National Innovation Committee - said that the office building "will be a testimony to the efficiency and creativity of 3D printing technology, which we believe will play a major role in reshaping construction and design sectors."

"We aim to take advantage of this growth by becoming a global hub for innovation and 3D printing. This is the first step of many more to come," he added.

While the final completion date for the 3D-printed building hasn't yet been announced, it's clear that the world will be waiting to see what the finished product looks like. And who knows, it could set a new precedent for office design in the future.

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Will These wearables take over your office by 2016?

When people discuss wearables, it is generally with the consumer in mind. However, as we become increasingly familiar with the tech, more and more people are asking: could wearables hold some valuable potential within the workplace?

There is an ongoing debate regarding the matter. Some argue that they could become more of a "stress maker" than "stress saver", bringing up the issues of privacy, while others find them "enlightening and useful."

While the "for" and "against" camps are likely to continue expressing their views for the foreseeable future, we ask: which wearables are set to create the biggest impact within the workplace? Wareable.com pointed out some of the key pieces of tech.

Microsoft HoloLens

The office space is certainly not lagging behind when it comes to virtual and augmented reality. NASA was an early adopter, using it for virtual instructions, but any hands-on employee could adopt the tech, removing the need for months of training by providing "on the job" advice.

Apple Watch

Many employees are given a work phone when they start at a new job; in the future will an Apple Watch become the new device being given out? According to Wareable, they "provide workers with a way to stay connected that's faster and more efficient than checking your phone."

Samsung Gear smartwatches

Similarly, Samsung Gear is set to transform the workplace. Couriers, for example, use handheld devices that seem to be shrinking each year; could employees monitoring large amounts of products "go wearable" in the future? Tesco staff are already using them behind the scenes to help with stock control.

These are just a few examples of how wearables can be adopted in the workplace environment. As the tech catches on and its potential is unleashed, employers will be made aware of the many benefits it could offer their employees, and their business as a whole.