How Smart Technology Will Transform Your Company This Year
When you think about smart workplace technology, what comes to mind?
Do you picture touchless applications? Sensor-enabled automation? Artificial intelligence replacing routine processes?
Because the phrase has become a catch-all for so many things and smart workplace technology is continually evolving, it can be difficult to define. Here’s a closer look at what we can expect a smart workplace to include in the near future and how advances in technology will change the way we plan, collaborate, and measure success.
How smart is your workplace? Take our five-minute technology assessment.
What is a smart workplace?
A recent global market research report defines the smart workplace as technologies, services, and solutions that “connect and engage,” enabling people to work better, faster, and smarter. The smart workplace market is expected to reach $53 billion by 2025, with a 12% compound annual growth rate, according to the report.
The report focuses on solutions that use sensors, the Internet of Things (IoT), software, and other connected solutions to optimize building management, including:
- Building construction
- Energy management
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
- Predictive maintenance
While these are all important elements, today’s smart workplaces go beyond the physical building to improve collaboration and the employee experience in a hybrid environment, including:
- Employee engagement apps
- Occupancy sensors
- Meeting room solutions
- Smart lockers
- Smart parking solutions
- Wayfinding and navigation
We’ll take a closer look at how smart workplace technology improves each of these applications.
Building information modeling (BIM), combines 3D modeling and software with a collaborative process that enables everyone to work together on building design, construction, and maintenance. In short, it’s a way to build better buildings from the ground up and use predictive analytics to maintain them.
One example is the Archibus Smart Client Extension, which allows facilities managers to obtain quantifiable information from a building so they can make data-driven decisions. They can use data to create a digital twin, or a 3D map of a building, and gain a better understanding of how that building will respond under certain conditions.
Intelligent lighting systems can reduce energy usage by up to 80%, according to one provider. These systems use Internet of Things sensors to adjust lighting based on occupancy, time of day, weather conditions, and seasonal changes. They can even adjust lighting for specific tasks.
Smart blinds adjust how much of a window is covered based on its location on the building as well as the time of day and season of the year. Sitting next to a window has been shown to improve employee health and increase workforce productivity, and smart blinds ensure employees aren’t baking in the sun or struggling with screen glare.
Many organizations are under increased pressure to reduce carbon emissions and achieve sustainability goals while keeping costs in check. It can be difficult to understand how much your organization is spending on utilities when you have many different buildings and energy providers. Energy management solutions help you track expenses against your own objectives and benchmark data so you can make improvements. This smart workplace technology can help you reduce energy costs, evaluate usage patterns, and renegotiate rates with providers.
One of the most common complaints employees have about the workplace is that it’s either too hot, too cold, or uncomfortable due to other environmental factors, such as a lack of humidity or poor air quality. This may not seem like a significant problem, but research shows that after just two hours in a closed-door meeting, employees experienced impaired decision-making due to high carbon dioxide levels.
Like intelligent lighting systems, smart HVAC systems use sensor technology to adjust the temperature based on occupancy and environmental factors. They can also monitor air quality, humidity, and other factors so employees can breathe easier.
While regularly scheduled preventive maintenance helps you avoid equipment downtime, reduce the costs of repairs, and extend the life of your assets, smart workplace technology enables FMs to manage buildings and assets with even greater precision.
Predictive maintenance uses smart workplace technology powered by IoT sensors to track asset utilization and detect certain conditions that indicate impending equipment failures, such as temperature, friction, and vibration. IoT sensors should be integrated with facility maintenance software so FMs always have the most up-to-date asset utilization data at their fingertips. They can use this data to inform their maintenance decisions and prevent unexpected asset failures.
Smart technology can tackle common security challenges and help organizations protect their most valuable assets — including their employees.
Smart workplace technology such as smart badging systems allows FMs to control access to an entire building or specific spaces within a building, such as secured areas or data centers. Badge systems can protect employees from unwelcome (and potentially dangerous) visitors and also protect the company from internal or external security breaches.
In spaces that must be environmentally controlled, IoT sensors can detect variations in temperature or humidity that can damage equipment or detect motion, which could indicate the presence of unauthorized individuals. These smart sensors can be tied to workplace management software, which notify important personnel who can take appropriate action.
And, as more organizations implement wellness checks and contact tracing, they’re introducing touchless visitor management systems that allow visitors to complete a simple questionnaire, scan a QR code, and notify their host without having to wait in a crowded lobby.
Employee engagement apps
As organizations shift to a hybrid workplace and move away from assigned seats, they still face the challenge of keeping employees connected. Mobile apps are a type of smart workplace technology that is becoming more popular in this new environment.
These apps make it easy for employees to find people, places, and information in a smart workplace. They can display location-based maps, announcements, menus, and more so employees feel more connected to the office environment even if they aren’t there every day.
Occupancy sensors enhance many different types of smart workplace technologies, including space planning software, reservation software, and building maintenance solutions.
Facilities managers can use occupancy data to make adjustments to the office space as needed and monitor trends over time. For example, they might notify the food service provider who manages the employee cafeteria to prepare fewer meals on certain days of the week or adjust the size of maintenance crews based on anticipated occupancy.
Meeting room solutions
Sensors can also eliminate the problem of “false scarcity” when it comes to meeting rooms or desks. This problem occurs when an employee reserves space in advance but then cancels a meeting or decides they no longer need to come into the office. When sensors integrate with reservation software, you can create a workflow that automatically cancels a reservation if there is no activity detected after a certain period of time.
Intelligent room panels that integrate with conference room scheduling software can also make it easier to reserve space and collaborate at a moment’s notice.
Employees need a place to secure their belongings and receive mail deliveries, especially if they don’t have a dedicated desk. Smart lockers use an electronic system they can access through a touchscreen and unlock with a code sent to their mobile app. This makes it easy to offer scalable storage space without needing to add rows and rows of new lockers, especially if you have an agile workforce with many independent contractors working alongside full-time employees.
Smart parking solutions
Spending the first 20 minutes of the day looking for a parking spot is a frustrating experience for any employee. Smart parking solutions reduce this frustration by allowing them to find and reserve a parking space as easily as they reserve a desk for the day. These solutions are typically powered by space management software and allow employees to access them through a mobile app.
Wayfinding and navigation
Whether it’s their first day in the office or their first day back in a long time, wayfinding solutions can put employees or visitors at ease by making it easy to navigate their new environment. Wayfinding reduces the time they spend searching for their destination or asking for directions. These solutions can also display important announcements, such as upcoming events, road closures, or weather alerts.
Do you have the smart workplace technology to meet the needs of your workforce?
Employees have become accustomed to working anywhere, so their expectations of the workplace have changed. They expect it to be as comfortable as their home office, with well-maintained building systems and technology that enables frictionless collaboration.
They want to be able to find a place to park, securely store their belongings, find a colleague, reserve a room or desk, request services or amenities, and receive mail, visitors, or important announcements throughout the day.
Building a smart workspace isn’t easy, and there’s a lot to consider.
Start by evaluating the workplace technology you already have and what new solutions would be most beneficial to your employees while helping you achieve your business objectives.
Take the first step with our smart workplace technology assessment. It takes just a few minutes to complete, and you’ll receive a personalized report with your score and recommended next steps.
Here’s to a smarter workplace in the new year!