The future for workplace design – touchless interfaces

Workplace design has certainly shifted during the last decade. The digital revolution entered the building, and the war for talent and labor shortage changed how we design our workplaces. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and the digitization of workplaces are having to be re-imagined ensuring performance and productivity improves, while attracting, engaging and retaining talent.

Just as workflows have seen an increase in digitization, workplaces have recently been designed with hardware and data that enhance efficiency and the employee experience. Examples include wayfinding kiosks, check-in kiosks in airports, self-checkout point of sale systems, conference room booking screens, sign-in tablets, or even biometric fingerprint scans.


With the COVID-19 outbreak CRE and FM leaders have been forced to rethink workplace design, at least in the short term. Several studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses can spread from touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like offices, airports and hospitals. Research indicates that a virus on a high-contact surface, such as a doorknob or a tabletop, can infect 40 to 60% of the people in a workplace within two to four hours. This means that the workplace starts to look like a health risk, with its amenities and convenience hardware. It is incumbent on CRE and FM leaders to rethink how we introduce interfaces that aren’t just frictionless, but also touchless.


Now, what will these touchless interfaces look like the next time you visit your workplace, an airport, school, or hospital? Continue reading about the six categories of touchless interfaces that you can expect to encounter in the future.



Using hand gestures to trigger an automatic door or replace the touch interaction of large collaborative screen such as kiosks or digital whiteboards.



Using voice commands to book meeting rooms, order lunch, switch lights on and off, activate elevators and other mundane tasks.



Facial recognition

Using facial recognition and biometric technol­ogy to check-in, when you use a vending machine, accessing meeting rooms and other concepts.


Sensors and IoT

Using sensors and IoT to set desk height, adjust lights, automate water dispensers, open doors and other features.


AI-powered robots

Using AI-powered robots for desk delivery such as food or mail, transport parts and push buttons. Read more about what robots and other innovations you may see during your next visit to the airport by checking out our e-book, Top 10 Innovations for Airlines and Airport.


Smartphone devices

Using personal smartphone devices to access printing, order lunch, book meeting rooms, access concierge services and other features.


Trust in the spaces you visit

All of these touchless amenities offer health and safety solutions to minimize the risk of transmitting COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. As we all emerge from the pandemic environment and step back into the world to re-engage our friends, family, colleagues and communities, we will be depending on the places we visit to instill a higher level of health and safety.


In addition to workplace design, learn more about the nine forces that will shape the next normal for the workplace by downloading our free Next Normal insights.