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Artificial intelligence is everywhere. From auto correction on Microsoft Word to navigation tools like Google maps, we’ve been living with it for years. Just ask former world chess champion Gary Kasparov, who, in 1997, was beaten by IBM’s chess-playing computer program Deep Blue. 

So, why now has artificial intelligence become so newsworthy? It seems that interest in the subject has ramped up since Elon Musk and other leading tech figures signed a letter demanding a pause in artificial intelligence research. In the letter, it is claimed that AI “can pose profound risks to society and humanity,” prompting calls from Musk and co for better management of the technology to ensure it is safe beyond reasonable doubt.

The increasing coverage of artificial intelligence has led to much speculation about its future impact, both positive and negative. In this article, we explore how AI is changing the office environment, with a focus on emerging technology trends and predictions from business leaders.

So, whether you’re a human or chatbot, read on to learn more!

What Exactly is AI?

There are many different approaches to AI, but they all share a common goal: to create machines that can think and act like humans. AI systems can use algorithms to tackle challenging problems or streamline repetitive tasks, which can be particularly useful in a workplace environment.

Amazon’s Alexa is a prime example of artificial intelligence. Using voice recognition and natural language processing, the AI assistant can answer questions, play music, control smart home devices and more. Equally cool is Tesla’s Autopilot, which, using AI, allows the cars to drive themselves and even avoid hazardous objects.

How Is AI Used in Offices?

Occupancy Trackers

Rather than deploying someone on an office floor to monitor how the facility is being used, businesses can use AI to collect data on occupancy levels and employee activity. This allows facility managers to break down space utilisation to get a snapshot of how the space is being used.

To collect the data, businesses install IoT (Internet of Things) office sensors in the areas they want to monitor. As employees navigate the workspace, the sensors can detect motion to track habits and interactions. For example, the data may show that one floor is particularly popular and needs to be adapted to increase its capacity.


Artificial intelligence (AI) can automate office tasks in a variety of ways. For example, it can generate marketing material, enter data, and create financial reports, freeing up time for employees to focus on other responsibilities.

A common form of office automation is a chatbot, which can simulate conversation with human users. They are often used in customer service applications, where they can answer questions, provide support, and resolve issues.

A recent development in chatbot technology is the “avatar” receptionist. These are virtual characters that can interact with humans and automate various tasks, such as welcoming visitors and providing meeting room guidance.

Social AI

Social AI can help us become more emotionally intelligent. For example, employees can practice interactions with AI avatars that represent their team members before a meeting or presentation. The AI will generate possible arguments and give feedback on how to communicate more effectively.

What’s more, social AI can detect email microaggressions and suggest alternative wording, encourage turn-taking in online meetings based on voice detection, and make the workplace more diverse by reducing bias in the recruitment process.

Benefits of AI in the Office Environment

Improved Communication, Collaboration and Culture

With the rise of social AI, auto-responsive text generators, and grammar correction tools, employees will undoubtedly become better, faster communicators. Furthermore, AI powered tools can help with training by matching employees to coaches with specific skills, such as inclusive leadership and persuasive communication.

And let’s not forget about the data-driven office design. With the ability to capture data on workplace usage, businesses can analyse how employees prefer to collaborate. It may be the case that they’re partial to a particular meeting room or furniture setup, which could mean adapting the workplace to capitalise on this.

As communication and collaboration go hand in hand, businesses can leverage AI to create a truly productive, cooperative environment. That’s good for employees and company culture, which will help to maintain and attract top talent.

Cost Savings and Better Time Management

The less time it takes to do a task, the more time an employee has to work on another initiative. As AI can automate repetitive tasks, employees can dedicate more time on high value activities, making for improved time management.

That said, it is likely that automation will become so advanced that some human jobs will become defunct (more on this later). That, of course, will benefit companies in the way of cost saving, although employees will likely need to be trained to manage AI systems.

On the subject of cost saving, leaders can also use occupancy trackers to ensure no office space goes to waste. For example, if one of their office floors is underutilised, they may decide to let it go and move employees into less space.

Greener Spaces

Occupancy trackers can help businesses manage energy use by monitoring occupancy trends. For example, businesses with flexible working hours may find that employees prefer to come in early and leave early. This means that businesses can shut down floors early to reduce energy consumption and save money.

Trackers can also help businesses identify areas where energy is being wasted. The data may show that certain rooms are rarely used, or that lights are left on in empty offices. This information can be used to make changes to the way the building is used, such as moving employees to different offices or installing motion sensors to turn off lights when no one is in a room.

Related content: The Three Pillars of Sustainability – a Workplace Guide

Evidence-Based Design

Having data to hand can help office designers make more informed decisions when it comes to the transformation process. From desk layout to the furniture selection, designers can use the occupancy data to guide them on key decisions that will make a difference to their clients’ working practices.

The data may even show that most employees are working from home, in which case the designer might recommend a smaller office space with more collaborative areas. This information is particularly useful for companies who are considering an office relocation or reaching the end of their lease.

Designers can combine this data with 3D design software to create a realistic representation of the prospective space. With the 3D visual and occupancy data to support it, businesses can get a full understanding of what they’re investing in, giving them confidence when embarking on an office fit out or refurbishment project

What Are Businesses Saying About AI?

Will AI robots take our jobs? For some office workers, it looks like the answer is yes. In a recent interview, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said he could see 30% of the company’s employees being replaced by AI and automation over a five-year period (approximately 7,800 jobs). Further to IBM, the US-based National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) also made the news after replacing its staff with an AI-assisted chatbot called Tessa.

While IBM and NEDA provide examples of companies using AI to reduce labour, Harvard Business Review’s recent survey of 1500 companies found that firms achieve significant performance improvements when humans and machines work together. As such, HBR predicts that those embracing AI to improve their processes will also need to develop employees who can work effectively at the human-machine interface, potentially creating new jobs.

As offices are likely to have changeable occupancy numbers, AI technology will be key to helping businesses adapt their spaces accordingly. After all, occupancy tracking technology has proved key in helping businesses to adjust to hybrid working, so we could be entering the era of the data-driven workplace.

Related content: Hybrid Design – How to Set up Your Space for Success

Thank You for Reading!

It is clear that artificial intelligence is rapidly changing the office environment. From automating tasks to improving communication and collaboration, AI is having a major impact on the way we work and interact with each other.

While there are understandable concerns about the potential for AI to replace jobs, there are also many opportunities for businesses to use the technology to improve workplace operations. Whether it be helping an employee to write better emails or creating a space tailored to its team’s working preferences, AI can bring benefits to businesses on all levels.

Written by Chris Sparham

Get in Touch with Rap Interiors: Experienced Refurbishment Contractors

If this blog has inspired you to make changes to your office space, Rap Interiors would love to help. We are a team of design and build experts who help businesses make better decisions about their office setup. From space planning to the final install, we work closely with clients throughout the transformation process to ensure their spaces meet their unique needs.

To book a consultation with one of our experts, please call 0333 600 1234 or fill out the enquiry form below.