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Office, Outlook, Slack, Handoff: The digital workplace reborn

Galen Gruman | Aug. 19, 2016
Office and Outlook have been reinvented, collaboration tools like Slack are finally useful, and devices are evolving for new digital workflows

The changing hardware in the new office

The new office is not evolving in software only. Devices are evolving, too. We've seen how Microsoft and Google rethought the laptop in view of the iPad when the iPad seemed like an unstoppable juggernaut.

Microsoft's Surface Pro and Google's Chromebook both had very rocky starts, but they now seem to be coming into their own as the new type of device called a tabtop -- even Apple has remade the iPad in the tabtop image in the form of the large iPad Pro. Like so many aspects of the new office, the tabtop's evolution is only beginning.

There have long been highly useful apps for smartphones and tablets, but many people consider those devices to be too confining to use for "real" work, even if the apps are available. The tabtop is a step toward having our cake and eating it too.

Then there's the desk phone. Mobile devices and cloud services (for both work and home computers, too) let us work anywhere at any time. But our work phone numbers don't come along for the ride. And cellphones simply can't do the job of a desk phone. Those unified-communications monstrosities aren't the answer either.

The good news is we're on the cusp of the much-needed evolution of the desk phone, so it works more like email in that your account is available across the devices you use without the hassles of managing forwarding rules or heavyweight interfaces. When that day comes, we'll truly be free to work anywhere, anytime -- while still being able to turn them off when we're off duty.

The new digital office is the coming together of all these technologies and, more important, the underlying principles of powerfully portable capabilities in easy-to-use endpoints.


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