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6 Must-Have Smart Office Features

More and more companies are embracing smart office technology to streamline their processes and operations. It’s time to get smarter at your office. Smart offices embrace technology to create the hybrid workplace of the future. Here are the six must-have features of a smart office.

Benefits of a Smart Office

A smart office is more than just installing a smart device, like a smart TV, for your employees use. And the smart office market is not a temporary pivot, but a long-term trend. Mordor Intelligence values the intelligence office industry at a staggering $33.53 billion1. The benefits of a smart office include:

  • Increased Employee Productivity – When employees understand “the next normal,, they know how to work and where to find the answers they need.
  • Better Collaboration – After almost two years of the digital workplace (aka remote and/or hybrid work), employees have mastered video conferencing software and other collaborative tools.
  • Higher Employee Retention – Since 40% of Americans surveyed who were working at home said they would look for another job if their employer forced them to return to the office full time, those employers who adapt are able to retain their key employees2. 
  • Simplified Scheduling – Scheduling and desk booking software can take the work out of “working out” a weekly schedule or monitoring occupancy in the workplace.

6 Must-Have Features of a Smart Office

#1 Health & Safety Changes

It appears that COVID is becoming endemic – meaning that we must permanently adjust to living with the disease and its variants (much like the flu). If you haven’t already, implementing a few small smart technology changes can yield big results in your smart office. Handwashing and/or sanitation stations continue to be a great first-line round of defense. Of course, moving towards contactless light switches, water faucets, elevator buttons, and voice-activated coffee pots can also minimize germs.

Adam Stanley, chief information officer and chief digital officer at commercial-real-estate services giant Cushman & Wakefield PLC explains smart technology this way3: “Smart software can help support a range of advanced safety-monitoring tools, such as contact tracing, health check-ins, contagion-risk alerts and social-distancing notifications that flag overcrowded office floors or conference rooms..

#2 Scheduling & Space Utilization Software

Organizations must invest in technology to assist with desk, office, and meeting room scheduling. OfficeTogether, Crestron, and Robin, for instance, were all created to manage hybrid work.

Dojo, an AI technology platform, was founded to track the movement of people to feed a data-driven scoring system that generates workplace layouts and seating charts to maximize the likelihood of serendipitous informal interactions. And, in August 2021, biosafety firm R-Zero gobbled up Reno-based CoWorkR which develops AI-driven sensors that determine where people are in a given space. Grant Morgan, CEO and co-founder of R-Zero is quoted4: “Creating and maintaining physical spaces that promote productivity and health is both the objective and obligation of every organization.”

#3 Climate, Lighting, & Air Controls

Say goodbye to the days where some employees are shivering while others are sweating. A smart thermostat can leverage sensors to detect how many people are in the room, the time of day, and the outside temperature to regulate the heat/cold. Using IoT technology is a win/win for the environment (lower energy consumption) and for the employee (better employee experience).

Monitoring air quality is also key. IoT solutions provider Metrikus highlights this point5,6: “A recent study suggested that enhancing indoor air quality could be as effective in reducing aerosol transmission of viruses as vaccinating 50-60% of the population.” 

And smart lighting technology leverages IoT sensors to give you and your facility manager the opportunity to monitor and manage a building’s lighting needs. This allows you to further optimize your building’s energy usage and efficiency.

#4 Collaboration Tools

With hybrid work, it’s difficult to predict who will or won’t be in the office. As a result, technology collaboration tools are critical to a smart office experience. Slack, for instance, works as a great communications tool. Google Docs foster collaboration as authorized users can see changes in real time. And video conferencing software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams enable remote workers to easily jump into a meeting.

#5 Smart Office Accessories

As the office pivots, so too must its design and accessories. For example, the smart offices of today are offering sit/stand desks. If you want to go one step further, there is even technology such as smart office chairs that record data, such as the user’s sitting and standing time.

Since most employees no longer have dedicated desks or offices, storing personal effects can become an issue. As Jeffrey Gay, an architect and designer for MOI explains7: “Everyone wants to control their personal effects. With the open office colliding with the hybrid workplace, you don’t always know who is in the space. You want to know that your things are safely locked away.”

Enter smart lockers, which can function as a secure central distribution system for the transfer of laptops, files, ID materials, parking passes, documents, and more. David Janes, Channel Manager, Parcel Locker Solutions at Parcel Pending by Quadient, predicts parcel lockers will provide the solution for distributing all kinds of things at work – not just packages – giving users the ability to avoid crowded areas and face-to-face contact. He refers to this transformation as a Campus Hub, “an exchange point for different items, outside of mail and packages.” To learn more about how leveraging the right mailroom equipment can reduce corporate costs, check out this related blog post.

#6 Security Solutions

Smart security solutions go beyond mere cameras. IoT technology uses voice and face recognition to provide valuable occupancy analytics (e.g., who has entered a building, where they are, and how many people are in the office overall). These devices can also alert you when the last person leaves. Adding tracking technology (similar to the consumer version, Tile) can reduce theft and some additional costs.

Clearly, smart offices are the future of work. They leverage technology for the new hybrid work world, thereby realizing significant savings for building managers and increasing employee engagement and satisfaction. 

If you are working on a hybrid office design, smart lockers should be a part of your plans. To discover how to step into the smarter office with smart lockers, contact a Parcel Pending by Quadient representative today.

Sources:

  1. Mordor Intelligence. (2020). Smart Office Market – Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2021-2026) [Report]. Retrieved from: https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/smart-office-market#faqs
  2. Cutter, Chip. The Wall Street Journal. The Boss Wants You Back in the Office. Like, Now. (2021, July 24). https://www.wsj.com/articles/return-to-work-the-boss-wants-you-back-in-the-office-11627079616.
  3. Loten, Angus. The Wall Street Journal. AI Set to Reshape Workplace as Physical Offices Open Up. (2021, March 31). https://www.wsj.com/articles/ai-set-to-reshape-workplace-as-physical-offices-open-up-11617224774.
  4. Northern Nevada Business Weekly. Reno-based IoT startup CoWorkR acquired by R-Zero. (2021, August 10). https://www.nnbw.com/news/2021/aug/10/reno-based-iot-startup-coworkr-acquired-r-zero/.
  5. Vernon, Emily. Metrikus. Back to basics: what does a smart office actually look like?. (2020, January 11). https://www.metrikus.io/blog/what-does-a-smart-office-look-like.
  6. Spena A., Palombi L., Corcione M., Carestia M., Spena V. On the Optimal Indoor Air Conditions for SARS-CoV-2 Inactivation. An Enthalpy-Based Approach. [[accessed on 7 December 2021)]; Available online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7504028/
  7. Proctor, Carolyn M. Washington Business Journal. Post-Covid offices are bringing in welcome design changes. (2021, July 16). https://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2021/07/16/post-covid-office-design-changes.html.

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