Swedish radio (SR) reported new insights on the future of office work now that Swedish
companies are slowly starting to plan for a return to the office. In this process, new ideas about office management are starting to emerge. It is evident that the general work culture is shifting, creating new challenges for facility and property managers. In this blog post, we will go over the new trends, why smart-office solutions are an integrate part of successfully implementing new remote-work-policies, and what functions you should look for when establishing a new smart office solution.
In the news broadcast, the marketing director of Dell Technologies gave his comments on
the planned changes for the Dell-office in Sweden. The facility is planned to mainly be used as a meeting hub from employees, rather than a designated work area. Lena Lid Falkman, researcher at Karlstad University and Handelshögskolan in Stockholm says that the trend of working from home will only grow stronger. The technology needed is already present, and the Covid-19 pandemic has proven that flexible working is both possible and manageable. It seems like more employees are ruling in favor of remote work, support that is only increasing.
But there are also other benefits with distance working. It opens up opportunities to requit outside the direct geographical area and reduces the overall costs for office space. It is
already evident that the office space needed per person will decrease, saving both energy consumption and costs. Implementing remote work permanently also appears easy and straight forward; buy a zoom license, implement a good chat system, and use effective planning tools and you are good to go. But we all know that the reality is rarely that simple. As much as we need good communication tools, we also need good office management tools to make this transition possible. This is where the future of smart office solutions comes into play.
What is a Smart Office Solution?
Essentially, if office 365 helps you organize emails, view schedules, and create to do-lists, smart office solutions help you manage your physical office resources. What do you think
about when you hear the word office? Probably your work desk, the meeting rooms, the cafeteria, collaboration spaces, the reception where visitors check in. Maybe the garage where you park your car or the printing room. A smart office solution is an integrated software system where you can manage all of these utilities. Smart office solutions usually include:
- Room booking - book meeting rooms directly or in advance and view the bookings made for each meeting room.
- Colleague finding – Find colleagues in your office and view their contact information for easy communication.
- Desk booking – See which desks are available at the office and book one for the day. Or take a desk ad-hoc and have it marked as occupied.
- Wayfinding – A map with a navigation system that can guide you to the specific utility that you need.
Smart office solutions also include more advanced solutions like access control, visitor management, integration to existing it systems, solutions for multi-tenant buildings, etc. However, all of this can seem counterintuitive when we are discussing remote work, why would office management become more important? The simple answer is that office space is still needed, and as SR indicated, offices will not disappear, only change.
Why do you need a Smart Office Solution?
We at Flowscape have discussed these office trends before, and why flexible working is the future. However, changing an office into a flexible working place has its challenges and require solutions that can manage employee density, room booking and desk reservations. Let us go over some of the main reasons why a smart office solution can be highly beneficial.
If we decrease office space, we automatically encounter the risk of making the office to dense. After all, our workforce will (hopefully) not change in size. Without planning, to many people can be at the office at once, worsening the employee experience. Many companies solve this by using fixed schedules. But this is not flexible working. The only way to manage office density without regulating the whereabouts of your employees is through a booking system.
How do we decide what to reduce and what to keep? Implementing flexible working goes hand-in-hand with implementing a new office layout. Many companies cut office space based on subjective observations. However, when basing these decisions on biased perceptions, we may not design our office after the needs of the employees. With a smart office solution, it is possible to see how areas are utilized using sensor technology and design your new office space accordingly.
Guarantees for Employees
If you reduce your office space, there will probably not be enough seats for all employees if they all decided to come in at once. This puts more pressure on desk management. Even if your company decides to remove fixed seating, your employees will still need some form of guarantee that they will have a workspace upon arrival. This will be difficult to establish without a desk booking solution. The same is true for meeting rooms, if a team arrives at the office for a specific task, they want to be sure that there is a room available for them.
Desk booking also enables increased flexibility, because the employee can choose where they want to be seated, instead of having a permanent seat assigned to them.
Smart Office 2.0
The demand for office solutions is higher than ever - and one size does not fit all. Finding the
right one is tricky, especially if you are at the beginning of your smart office journey. What you need will depend on your specific office arrangement, but there are some things that are worth keeping in mind when looking for a solution.
Smart Office Functions you should look for
Friendly End-User Interface
Employees need to use the system for it to be worth the effort, and no one wants to spend valuable time understanding a complicated system. A friendly end-user interface should be both easy and intuitive. Make sure to evaluate the map provided by the smart office solution, is it easy to understand? Is it easier to find office utilities? Other things to consider is the quality of the booking experience, and what functions are provided.
For everything to run smoothly, you need a system that can manage wayfinding, colleague finding and booking from one place. It becomes unnecessarily complicated if you need to have different systems for all of these functions.
For all Devices
Because we are connected through different types of devices; laptops, smartphone’s and tablets, the system needs to work on all of these. This makes it possible for the employees to always reach the booking system.
To make installation easy, its beneficial to look for smart office solutions that can deliver all hardware needed together with the provided software system. This generally includes panels for meeting rooms, kiosk screens, sensors, occupancy lights, etc. There are a lot of things to think about, and some guidance goes a long way. A problem with only buying cloud solutions is that it will become difficult to manage all hardware and software together, make sure you use a solution that includes everything you need.
Your needs can change over time, make sure to buy a system that is easily scalable, both downwards and upwards. Adding new functions over time can be necessary, and the system also needs to be adapted to your specific needs.
Variety in Desk Booking Options
It is important that the system allows for both bookable and non-bookable desks. So-called hot desking and desk hoteling, read more about the difference and benefits here. Do not buy a system that only allows for one or the other, because you might want to change the booking status after evaluating the needs of your employees.
Make sure that there is a possibility to report errors with meeting rooms, desks, or other utilities. This makes it easy to always keep your office up-to-date and manage your office
Thinking about the Future
In this blog post, we have covered the new uprising trends of office work and how that will affect our facility usage. With that in mind, we have discussed how smart office solutions will play a significant role in this development and why it can be an effective tool to manage your office space. Furthermore, we have identified what type of functions that you can look for when adapting a smart office solution in your office. In summary, we can conclude that the change from a traditional office set up to a flexible one can be managed smoothly if the right tools are used.
Are you interested to know more about Smart Office solutions? Feel free to contact us for a