This article was initially published in 2020 and updated in 2021. Working from home was once only a possibility for a select few jobs. But because modern technology has really... Read More
Have you ever wondered what the office of the future will look like? Hint-hint — smart offices will play a big role.
But what exactly is a smart office? After all, the word “smart” has been thrown around a lot – smartphones, smart televisions, smart fridges, the list seems endless.
By definition, a smart office can be conceptualized as a tech-heavy space in which sensors and devices are used together to provide a highly efficient and productive working environment. By adopting technologies such as room displays, detection systems, networked sensors, workplace apps, and more, a smart office can instantly respond to the needs of its tenants, essentially making their lives easier. This then equates to higher employee morale and increased work productivity.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
So, let’s break it down and take a look at a few technological components that make up a smart office and how they can transform your working experience!
Let’s start with how employees access the space.
Rather than using employee cards that can be easily misplaced, why not use an app that is downloaded onto employee smartphones? This allows any individual who works at a company to enter or leave the building, access rooms, book a desk or meeting room, and rent equipment.
For employees who work remotely, a workplace app works well as a communication tool to schedule video conferences, connect with coworkers or apply for leave.
What’s more, something like an app doesn’t require a huge amount of capital so it can be a good option for companies looking to test the waters of integrating smart technologies into their operations.
We’ve all heard about the health benefits of using a standing desk. A smart standing desk allows you to adjust how high you want it to be and can even keep a record for each user’s preferences.
If you want to go one step further, technologies such as smart office chairs can record data of the user’s sitting and standing time which can then be used to provide a suggestion or benchmark for that individual, similar to your phone monitoring time spent on social media.
Smart Environmental Sensors and Control
Another growing trend in today’s day and age are ‘green’ offices to help companies to save energy usage and reduce their carbon footprint.
Intelligent climate control systems and smart thermostats can be used to monitor and control air conditioning, lighting, elevators, and other energy-consuming systems. For example, the system will switch the lights off when sensors detect no one is in the room or certain levels of natural sunlight coming into the room.
Indoor air quality has also become a concern, especially over the past year! Studies have shown that having better indoor air quality is potentially as effective as reducing the aerosol transmission of viruses in a partially vaccinated population. A smart climate sensor can monitor certain aspects of air quality, such as CO2 or PM2.5 levels so when air quality is suboptimal, the building manager can be notified and necessary action can be taken.
Real-time Occupancy Monitoring and Space Utilization
Over the past decade, open offices have become the new norm and with that, the trend of desk sharing – the practice where employees can occupy any available desks instead of having an assigned seat. This is where a smart desk system comes in handy.
Simply by utilizing smart space monitoring software such as QUBIC, employees can search, reserve, and schedule available spaces. It also makes it easier to locate your colleagues! The system also works for spaces like conference rooms, breakout areas, and other meeting spaces.
When it comes to setting up a smart meeting room, a wireless presentation system and interactive whiteboards allow team members to effectively present their visual ideas. Moreover, conference rooms can also be equipped specifically to support video conferencing with built-in hardware such as a high-quality webcam, mic, and room acoustics.
It might seem a bit extreme to have sensors all over the office, but by monitoring occupancy in real-time and collecting data on space usage, over time, property managers can map out which parts of the office are the most and least used. Once they have this information, they can then renovate offices to ensure that they have enough facilities which will be more frequently used by tenants.
So, what will the office itself actually look like?
When it comes down to the actual look of the office, we have to admit it was actually a bit of a trick question. The truth is, as much as we would like to emulate Iron Man’s amazing home laboratory, a smart office doesn’t need to be an impressive futuristic-looking building filled with weird crazy gadgets and drones flying around.
It’s actually almost impossible to tell how smart an office is just by looking at it. Rather, it’s more about how well the different technologies and various data analytics are used to make the office a better place to work. But while it might be hard to predict what a smart office will look like, one thing is for certain: offices are going to get smarter, or risk becoming obsolete.