Most facility and real estate managers seem to agree that a new era of the ‘smart office' is slowly emerging. Even if the ‘smart office' history dates back to as early as 1990, with the emergence of the internet and the availability of computers for most of the workforce, the term has now grown to encompass even more of our work environment. But what is a smart office, and what are the benefits of transforming our office into one?
This article aims to give a brief overview of the meaning of a smart office, what type of smart technology it usually entails and what benefits it can have for employees and facility managers alike. The growth of the smart office sector can no longer be ignored, and it is about time we all think about what role it will play in our professional lives moving forward.
What is a smart office?
So what is a smart office? A smart office or a smart office solution is an office space that incorporates modern technology to increase and boost employee productivity, experience, and efficiency by optimizing the office environment while simultaneously keeping the office space environmentally friendly and cost-efficient. This is usually managed in two different ways, firstly by introducing tools that support employees in finding, using, and collaborating in their office space, secondly by providing analytic capabilities and tools for facility managers to optimize space usage with smart systems.
Why is Space Management important for a smart office?
The core of ‘smart offices' lies in optimization. Just like how smartphones came to revolutionize how we use our phones, ‘smart office' aims to revolutionize the spaces where we spend the majority of our professional lives.
Smart office solution technology is today seen as essential to retaining staff and hiring new talent for one's business. Modernizing the office space where employees will spend a considerable amount of time is just as important for the employee experience as traditional work tools.
What are the key benefits of a smart office?
What can be categorized as Smart Office Technology?
Because the field of smart office technology is so varied, the technology most often connected to the term can have a wide set of functions, smart devices, and purposes. But generally, when talking about smart office technology, people tend to talk about:
One major essence of smart office technology is providing an office with an interactive floor plan that maps out the office layout and all office resources. Especially in large office spaces, employees can struggle with finding the right resources, such as meeting rooms and workspaces. An Interactive floorplan, often shown from an app or kiosk screen, can greatly reduce the time spent trying to find resources and help employees be more efficient when performing the small tasks performed during a workday.
Smart office technology is not only limited to resource finding and wayfinding but also includes the process of how we enter the office, to begin with. A smart office usually uses some form of smart access control, where access can be given only to employees who have a meeting booked for the day or a desk booking. Or by using QR codes that can give guests direct access to the office without needing a reception.
Smart office technology also gives great tools for managing visitors. Instead of having guests wait in the reception before you greet them, visitors can now be let in with a simple QR code and then be guided to the right conference room with wayfinding tools. Many smart office solutions also allow ordering catering along with room booking, ensuring the best service for your guest without stress or waiting.
Desk Booking Software
In a hybrid work environment, fixed seating arrangements will no longer be economically sustainable. Smart office technology provides smart and functional hot desking solutions that guarantee employees' seats when they come to the office. Workspaces can be booked in advance or upon arrival at the office, creating a sense of security and recognition. The most advanced smart office solutions on the market also provide digital attendance calendars, where employees can see when their colleagues plan to be in the office and what workspaces they have booked, so they have the chance to book workspaces close to them.
What is Hot Desking?
Hot Desking software also helps employees filter after resources that suit their needs the most. For example, if an employee needs double screens to perform a task, they can filter after that equipment and only be shown options that fit those criteria, completely excluding the risk of getting an unoptimized working space.
Meeting Room Management Software
Our meeting rooms and conference rooms need smart office technology more than ever to become smart meeting rooms. The rise of video conferencing requires a whole new set of equipment for our meeting rooms, and because office attendance is no longer a guarantee, smart office solutions are needed to optimize which meeting room we use depending on the equipment needed and the number of people that will actually attend on-site. The best smart office solutions provide smart room booking software that allows employees to book meeting rooms that fit their needs and that automatically releases the room if no one shows up to the meeting, making it available for others to use.
What companies can gain from a conference room scheduling system
By using sensors and booking software, occupancy can be indicated on the interactive floor plan, giving employees a real-life overview of the availability in the office. Employees can also find the exact location of the meeting room and find it directly instead of searching for it.
Fault reporting and support request streamlining
Equipment failure is a common problem that can make a seemingly efficient meeting go unproductive in a minute, and the lack of efficient communication between employees and facility personnel can make simple problems take ages to solve. Smart office technology usually provides easy solutions to make support request creation easy and manageable for all. Instead of going all the way to the reception to report the issue, the employee can instead register the fault report directly in their phone and attach a picture with a description. The fault report is directly connected to the resource in question, making it easy to find and solve.
Finding colleagues is estimated to only get more complicated in a hybrid work environment. Smart office technology can help employees find each other and where they are seated in a more efficient manner. This can be done by indoor positioning software or by showing who has booked desks during the day and where a desk is located. This is one of the greatest benefits of smart office technology.
A guide to colleague finding in a hyrbid workplace
Lastly, let us not forget one of the most important aspects of smart office technology, workplace analytics. Smart office technology usually provides extensive analytic capabilities that allow facility managers to analyze how the office is being used, what resources are popular, how many ghost bookings there are, how many meetings that run over time, how many people are in the office during a week, and much more. Analytics is important in facility managers' quest to optimize the workplace when more and more companies are going hybrid. The possibilities are endless. Furniture can be moved to optimal places. Office space can be reduced, desks can get the equipment that is most needed, and facility managers can measure the success of office changes by comparing data from different time periods.
Space Management software - the easiest way to measure office usage
Sensors and other hardware
Smart office technology refers not only to software but a wide variety of hardware products such as smart sensors, meeting room screens, kiosk screens, availability indication lights, and indoor positioning sensors. Sensors can be used to measure presence in meeting rooms or desks, automatically turn on and off the lights depending on if someone is in the room, and automatically open doors when someone is approaching for temperature control as more intelligent climate control systems. All modern offices have some form of sensors installed, and the possibilities are endless!
Sensors for hybrid offices - What you should choose and why
What are the benefits of smart offices?
There are a lot of benefits to a smart office. Firstly, it has the opportunity to optimize a hybrid workplace and minimize the friction caused by inefficiencies in everyday life. For starters, it is estimated that employees spend 15 minutes a day finding resources they need, a number that can be greatly reduced with smart technology. Secondly, smart office technology has great benefits for the employee experience, employee well-being, and employee retention. Thirdly, smart office technology gives many analytic capabilities that help facility managers optimize office space and handle support requests.
Optimizes hybrid workplaces
Using smart office technology is becoming necessary to facilitate a hybrid working environment and negate the negative effects it can have on finding available resources and colleagues.
The Hybrid Office, A Revolution That Requires Space Management Tools
Employee experience and wellbeing
By providing easy tools for resource booking, visitor management, access control, and colleague finding, the employee will experience the office as a seamless experience, incentivizing more frequent visits. By analyzing what employees use, facility managers can create an environment that is completely catered to what the employees need for optimal well-being.
How smart office technology can enhance the employee experience
How the office functions are a direct mirror of how the organization works. Modernizing your office will show employees that you are a modern company with strong plans for the future, which will make your employees stay.
Top Benefits of adopting a hybrid workplace model
More productive workdays and meetings
Smart offices are more productive and assist employees in their day-to-day lives. From booking conference rooms and workspaces to finding colleagues and planning collaboration on-site.
Hybrid working post-covid - the tools needed to start your journey
Interested in learning more about smart office solutions?
Feel free to contact us for a free consultation. Our experts can help you evaluate what solutions fit your specific needs.
Read more from our Blog