As businesses encourage their employees to return to the office after the homeworking boom of the pandemic, sleek office design has become increasingly important.
Employees want to work in a place that doesn’t just look good, but provides a great working environment and is safe and healthy. And, why shouldn’t they have experienced the comfort and convenience of working at home?
The office must offer a better alternative by creating a great employee experience.
Sleek design is a great starting point, but good looks alone may not be enough and that’s why more businesses around the world are introducing smart technologies into the workplace. In fact, the size of the global smart office market is projected to hit USD 57.05 billion by 2025, according to Million Insights while Jupiter Research forecasts a 150 percent increase in demand for smart buildings.
So, why are smart technologies important, what are the benefits and what exactly is a smart office?
On one level, a smart office is just like any other office - it doesn’t look any different from any other well-designed office. But, behind the scenes, technology is hard at work making the office an efficient workspace with a healthy, comfortable working environment and a level of security that protects people and property.
The benefits don’t just extend to employees. For businesses and property owners, smart technology can offer important cost savings through automation, greater energy efficiency, enhanced security – and higher employee satisfaction.
At a technical level, smart office solutions bring together advanced technologies like the Internet of Things, big data and intelligent building management systems. Throughout a smart building, you’ll find sensors and intelligent processing units that give property managers the ability to gather and analyze a vast amount of data. They use that data to manage and automate control of the office environment and create an optimum workspace.
There is a growing range of smart office products and, because they‘re unobtrusive, they help to enhance a sleek office design with ‘invisible technology’.
Sensors in each office space monitor occupancy and ambient light levels. If there are no employees in a meeting room, for example, they turn lights off. If there is bright sunshine coming through windows, they adjust light levels in the space.
These systems automate control of heating, ventilation and air conditioning by adjusting temperatures or ventilation in line with ambient conditions. They can also turn systems off automatically when office spaces are not occupied - at weekends or overnight, for example. That helps reduce energy costs and ensures a comfortable working environment.
Security is essential throughout the office to keep out intruders and ensure only authorized employees can access restricted areas. Like other smart technologies, access control systems are unobtrusive so don’t impact design. With an RFID access control system, for example, employees use a key fob to touch a flush-mounted access reader to enter the space – quick, easy and convenient. Access control systems can also provide valuable data on occupancy levels as input to other smart office systems.
Fire alarms and smoke detectors can be programmed to send automatic notifications to security teams if they sense abnormal conditions. They can also be integrated with surveillance cameras to trigger camera operation in the event of a fire.
These systems are important for hybrid offices where demand for workspaces or meeting rooms varies from day to day. Home-based employees can book desk space or meeting facilities in advance for times when they plan to be in the office. This helps facility managers maximize space utilization and plan future capacity based on accurate data from the system.
Smart office solutions can help to create a workplace that is productive, safe and healthy, while improving energy efficiency and reducing costs.
Automated control of lighting, temperature and ventilation helps create an environment where employees can work in comfort, regardless of external weather conditions.
A comfortable working environment also makes an important contribution to productivity.
Employees are now familiar with technology in their daily lives and they expect the same in the workplace. A sleek office design featuring smart technology can help to attract and retain talented employees who make an important contribution to the business.
Smart environmental controls that sense external conditions and make automated changes help businesses make the most efficient use of energy by matching usage to demand. This can also lead to an overall reduction in operating costs.
Access control systems help prevent unauthorized access to the workplace office and protect employees and their property against external threats.
There are many smart office products that can transform the working environment, so it’s important to prioritize the solutions that can add the greatest value.
Consulting technology and security professionals with experience of smart office design gives your management team access to specialist knowledge, which can help to avoid expensive mistakes.
When setting budgets for smart office automation, it’s important to include the costs of installation, integration and maintenance. It’s also good practice to set metrics for the smart office installation so you can assess the full benefits of the solution and calculate return on investment.
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