It’s 2021 and modern technology is making everything smart. You have smartphones, smartwatches, smart cars, and even smart homes. It’s no wonder that we are entering the era of smart spaces. Now, technology is setting its sights on another important space – the office space.
A smart workspace or smart office is a technology-optimized space designed to increase productivity and provide ease of access for individuals working within the space. Just as smart homes make living more convenient through connected thermostats, fridges, and other devices, smart offices use connected equipment and rooms to transform day-to-day business.
Smart workspaces are made possible by equipping the office space with interconnected tools that leverage technology commonly referred to as the Internet of Things, or IoT. Put simply, IoT is a collection of internet-connected devices that exchange information or data. In an office like Expansive, these tools range from things like smart printers and scanners, to touchless faucets and intelligent lighting, biometric door locks programmed to admit your team with a fingerprint rather than a physical key, or conference room access systems that unlock with a code you receive via text or email just before your reservation begins.
In the same way that the Internet forever changed how we work, smart workspaces represent the next evolution: using IoT to drive productivity by changing where we work.
A recent study by Forrester Research predicts continued strength in the smart office industry, as organizations evolve to meet new regulations and efficiency goals and smart city movements continue to gain steam. Intel, a driving force behind the IoT market, released a video describing a day in the life of a worker in a smart building that paints a fascinating picture of what the future may hold, with technology recognizing everything from our license plate to direct us to an appropriate open parking space, to security clearance as we access buildings and office suites, to ordering lunch, wayfinding within the property, and of course, connecting to wifi, monitors, and video conferencing equipment.
As we transition every aspect of our daily lives into a tech-powered future, we’ll increasingly notice the influence of artificial intelligence and IoT. Automation will continue to make things more efficient, and efficiency is key to a successful business. Most companies rely on automation when it comes to manufacturing goods inside their factories and warehouses. If entrepreneurs take that same principle into the workspace of human resources, customer service, sales, and office management, companies can start to develop a more efficient approach when it comes to business.
Automation in smart buildings has become a huge benefit to building owners and operators. By enabling better monitoring and remote management of systems like heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, and other daily functions, smart systems provide consistent data that can be used to benchmark operational standards. This improved visibility can then be used to reduce costs through improved energy consumption, optimized maintenance planning, and dynamic thresholds, all while increasing reliability, performance, and the experience of those in the property.
Companies that are looking to boost productivity and maintain a competitive edge would do well to adopt the smart office concept. Here are a few reasons why:
A defining trait of successful groups or brands is how well their employees are able to collaborate. A smart office aims to provide a space that not only promotes but enhances collaboration between individuals. This would naturally lead to a more productive workspace as teams and individuals are able to share ideas at a rapid pace, eliminating unnecessary roadblocks that get in the way of communication.
Another way to look at productivity is how quickly individuals get things done. Smart offices are equipped with software to help eliminate menial, basic tasks such as managing conference room reservations or looking for a space to plug in your laptop. This reduces frustrations and minor annoyances experienced by employees in the workspace and helps focus on work-related tasks.
For most, trying to find a space to talk and exchange ideas often takes a while. Employees sometimes spend more time trying to connect with each other than actually collaborating. Although open office layouts can foster collaboration between different groups sharing the same space, they can also be distracting for larger team sizes. Many workspaces also struggle with communication between staff and tenants or clients using space in their buildings, particularly on issues related to mail receipt, maintenance issues, or other facility-related questions.
Smart offices can help streamline these issues in a number of ways, and for offices of any size. For starters, they are often able to optimize floor layouts for more efficient collaboration. Workspace-related apps are another common feature these days that streamlines both access control, utilization, and communication between both tenants and tenants and on- and offsite staff.
One of the selling points of a smart office is that it’s easy to gather data on activities within the space. With enough data on how your team uses an office, you can better understand how to create optimal conditions for a productive team.
Many smart offices, like the SmartSuites Expansive debuted back in early 2019, are equipped with smart speakers like Amazon Alexa, which can provide updates on your office supply stock (and order them for you) or outstanding tasks on your to-do list. Smart lights and NEST thermostats can also inform you about usage, allowing you to adjust accordingly. This setup simultaneously empowers your team and lowers your company overhead.
At its core, a smart office aims to improve the working environment for employees. It aims to make each individual’s job easier, while also providing a fun environment for employees to stay motivated.
Technology is always evolving. Our parents and grandparents could never have imagined the world we live in today. Smart offices and smart buildings are simply a step in a more connected and integrated world. As technology continues to leap forward, entrepreneurs must push themselves to utilize their capabilities and integrate them into our daily work lives.