Workplace Technology: How Smart Is Your Office?

by Glenn Hicks on July 9, 2018

In a recent episode of our Workplace Innovator Podcast, Strategic Solutions for Intelligent Offices with Dusty Duistermars, Mike Petrusky interviewed Dusty Duistermars, the Senior Managing Director, Connected Places Practice Group, Innovation & Solutions Team at Newmark Knight Frank. Mike asked Dusty to share his insight on the biggest current workplace technology trends and what they mean in terms of the “connected office”.

Regardless of the size of an organization or its technology capabilities, the goal he hears most often from his clients is the need for better data.

“To make better occupancy planning decisions,” Dusty said, “you’ve got to know how your organization works.”

And in order to know that, you need live utilization data. That may include Internet of Things (IoT) sensors or other workplace technology. Dusty described the three different levels of connected/smart offices and the types of technology needed for each.

The 3 Levels Of Workplace Technology

Level One

The objective in a Level One connected office is to introduce workplace technology that provides a good baseline of current space utilization. The more basic Level One smart offices will have some type of space management software that allows the organization to track which employees sit where.

From there, Level One workplaces need mobile room reservation software. This should be an app employees can access via mobile devices that allows them to not only reserve conference rooms but also other workspaces—for example, a meditation room or huddle area. The app should also let employees reserve assets, such as media equipment.

Dusty explained that companies must be able to connect employees to the important elements of the workplace—more specifically, space and assets. This workplace technology helps improves the employee experience and provides workplace leaders insight into asset utilization as well as space utilization.

Level Two

Companies with Level Two connected offices likely don’t have the budget to install IoT sensors or beacons. Instead, these organizations can take advantage of QR codes for space reservation. Employees can use their smartphones to scan the QR code to check into a workspace or conference room. This is especially useful for companies that use office hoteling or hot-desking.

Like the mobile reservation app, these QR code systems enhance the employee experience by eliminating the hassle of wandering around trying to find a colleague. Coworkers can more easily locate each other, connect and collaborate. Additionally, QR codes reduce the number of times a conference room is reserved but not actually used.

The technology in a Level Two connected offices allows organizations to ditch outdated reservation systems or software not optimized for room reservation, like Microsoft Outlook.

Level Three

A Level Three connected office is the most intelligent smart office. In a Level Three office, more sophisticated technology like IoT sensors and beacons is used to capture more comprehensive real-time space utilization and occupancy data.

This technology is integrated with the building management system (BMS), which enables companies to adopt more elaborate automation features. For example, if the BMS detects certain areas of the office haven’t been occupied for several hours, it can automatically stop cooling or heating those areas. Similarly, if the sensors and beacons inform the BMS that a space is now occupied, the BMS can begin adjusting the temperature accordingly.

The Right Way To Implement Workplace Technology

With so many innovations, it’s an exciting time to be a workplace leader. You can use workplace technology to empower employees to work more efficiently, collaborate better and have more flexibility to choose where and how they work.

No matter where your office is now in terms of using workplace technology, it’s always possible to “level up.” Before you do, however, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Implementing IoT sensors may sound impressive, but unless you have specific goals for collecting additional workplace data and a plan for how to use it, you’re just using technology for technology’s sake.

Before you add any new workplace technology, take the time to consider how it aligns with your larger objectives. Get feedback from your facilities, corporate real estate, HR and IT departments. These teams need to work together to ensure implementation of any workplace technology is best for your entire organization.

When you implement the right technology for the right reasons, you open the door to exciting possibilities.

Photo by Giu Vicente on Unsplash.


Glenn Hicks

A member of the Business Development team, Glenn has years of experience with business process improvement on the Commercial Real Estate and Facilities Management sides.

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