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Building an Intelligent Workplace

Today, smart
buildings are becoming more dynamic and tailored to individual requirements,
specifically within the office space. The ability to work remotely from just
about anywhere has put pressure on building owners to provide a desirable
environment and service. With the traditional set up no longer enough, the
workspace is enduring dramatic changes and altering the nature of work and what
we once knew as ‘the office’. And with Gartner predicting that the greatest source of
competitive advantage for 30% of organisation’s over the next few years will be
their ability to creatively exploit the digital workplace, the pressure is on
for businesses and building owners alike to invest their time and resources
into the latest technologies.

Employee Expectations

Office
expectations are changing. We are now seeing an increasing number of employees
working outside of the office and customising their workspace to meet their
needs. Current research reveals that millennials would be willing to
take a pay cut to work in a nicer office, likewise would also consider quitting
over the fact that their workplace is either outdated or inefficient. In light
of this, it is increasingly important for employers to keep up with the rapidly
changing demand of employees in order to stay competitive when attracting and
retaining talent.

The office is
now expected to be a work-life experience; and keeping up with the digital
culture plays a large part in this change, as does flexibility in terms of
workflow and the physical space. Designed to foster creativity and create a
healthier work environment, workspaces are now becoming more ‘aware’ through an
ecosystem that allows buildings to dynamically adjust to the requirements of
users who are both temporary and permanent, through the convergence of IT and
Operational Technology (OT) such as building management systems, energy and
space management. There is an expectation in place, and if existing or new
companies don’t adapt, then they will fall behind.

Collaboration and Productivity

With 87% of employees worldwide still not engaged, and a lack of
motivation and productivity proven to be linked to the office setting,
companies need to rethink the role and purpose of the office and focus on
providing a combination of streamlined communication and social collaboration.

Smart office
design is blurring the lines between the traditional formal-informal setup,
with more ad-hoc social spaces and areas designated specifically for socials or
team building. Many companies are leading the way, revolutionising the way that
offices function with shared office facilities and hot desks on a part-time or
multi-lease basis. With desk layouts developed by algorithms instead of
designers and spaces that can adapt to employees’ priorities and needs,
companies are responding to the demand for mobility and flexible consumption in
the modern digital workspace. By configuring open and closed spaces through
noise-absorbing fabrics and glass doors, buildings are providing the privacy
that comes from individual offices within an open plan setup, meaning that
staff no longer need to be confined by physical walls.

Real-time
collaboration has also become an extremely essential technology for offices,
and it is IoT that defines it; fixed, portable and wearable devices are
integrated into the design and interact with each other through a cloud-based
network. Examples of this include fixed AV screens which can be controlled
through a users phone, wafer-thin sensors that can detect occupancy, and indoor
wayfinding platforms that help employees navigate office floor plans via
smartphone. The scalable and robust solutions that IoT offers can enhance
business efficiency, and most importantly, employee productivity.

Sustainability

With
sustainability the hot-button topic, businesses are constantly working to meet
the demands of a growing ecologically conscious marketplace. And with 72% of office workers revealing that a sustainable environment is
important to them, embracing this move has become a competitive necessity.
Through clever environmental design which optimises space, consumption and
resources, smart offices can reduce the overall environmental impact and save
money and resources along the way. From autonomous energy systems that shut off
heating and lighting when rooms are vacant to systems that monitor and optimise
the use of water and electricity, these offices can identify their most
wasteful aspects and also lessen the pressure on the national grid. For new
companies, integrating green from the beginning is the way to go, and for
existing buildings, embedding strategic energy management as part of the
business strategy will drive strategic business advantage as well as attract
new employees, clients and business partners.

Making the Business Case

Smart
buildings in themselves are a new revenue stream. But the cost of IoT implementation
is frequently perceived as a barrier to its adoption and development, despite
the cost-benefit analysis in the majority of cases presenting significant
financial savings. Many smart offices are built from the ground, so existing
workplaces need to be retrofitted. And although there is an upfront investment
or cost to retrofit an existing building, once installed, additions such as
optimised lighting make running these spaces much more cost-effective to the
building owner. As a result, offering lower fees to the customer for an
enhanced experience will be able to make the offer even more appealing.

Conclusion

People are
the largest investment of an organisation, and as new technologies evolve to
make their lives easier, safer and more comfortable it is important to look at
which technologies will create the biggest impact to your office. The
efficient, ease of use and cost-effective nature of what defines a smart office
is what will drive both it’s growth and normality in the workspace. IoT is
forcing its way into our business lives, and rather than waiting for the fad to
pass by, it is imperative that companies keep up with the trend and innovate
their working space, or they will risk falling behind.

Nick Sacke, Head of IoT and Products, Comms365

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