This is the era of smart offices. Almost all pioneers in the business world have begun transforming from their traditional office patterns into more productive smart offices. According to Zion Market Research, the global smart office market was valued at around USD 21.2 billion in 2017, whereas it is expected to reach approximately USD 49.7 billion by 2024. These figures show that the smart office concept is continuing its faster growth in the coming years. 

So the next question will be… 

What is a Smart Office? 

Smart office is basically an intelligent workspace and ecosystem that communicates regularly with smart devices and IoT to analyze information and make intelligent decisions necessary to increase the operational efficiency of an organization. This flexible state-of-the-art ecosystem will help the companies and their employees not to limit their building or cubicles, but to have a global presence in the world of opportunities. 

That’s great!!! What about implementation? 

Implementing Smart Offices 

● Understanding the workspace

The first step towards implementing a workspace is to have a clear understanding of the type and structure of the workspace. It should be an efficient model that can accommodate all the basic amenities and employees. At the same time, it should utilize the available space to its maximum. Activity-Based Workspace is one of the most popular and cost-saving strategies in office space design. This includes an open floor plan with hot desks, which helps to construct a working setting that can support daily activities. In an ABW environment, all the smart devices are connected to each other, enabling the employees to move seamlessly around the office while connected to a Wi-Fi network. This helps to improve the collaboration and knowledge transfer between workers. 

Also, businesses can implement the following in an ABW workspace more efficiently than any other structure.

  • A universal docking station can improve the workforce efficiently.
  • Connecting Desk- and room-based video conferencing facility, printers, etc from their personal devices.
  • Common projectors, smart boards, large screen displays, or touch screen displays for the entire workspace.
  • Understanding requirements

In order to build a smart office, you need to have good planning about the budget and the requirements. The design of smart offices can vary from company to company depending on their size, objectives and of course the kind of business they do. That is why you should have thorough knowledge about inside out of your business.

Adding Smartness to the office

Transforming your office into a smart place is not an easy job. Yes, a business can achieve productivity gains due to the addition of IoT infrastructure to it, but there is a high bar of expectations and cost. A smart office becomes smart when it utilizes all the three assets- place, people and time. From the latest technology devices to hiring specialists who are good at it can be a crucial job. Adding smartness to your workplace means restructuring the entire physical and digital aspects. You don’t have to replace the entire workforce with technology. Employees should be given proper training to handle the new changes.

● Internet of Things (IoT) devices

The definition of a smart office itself shows the role of IoT in this intelligent ecosystem. IoT is an element that adds smartness that integrates connected devices in general, monitor, control and manages various operations and working conditions. The IoT devices are smart devices that have internet connectivity and can interact with other devices over the internet.

● Artificial Intelligence(AI) 

AIrtificial utilizes the data acquired by IoT devices for real-time decision-making. It leverages a digital twin that bridges the physical and the virtual world, for making analysis and predictions. This can reduce the manual effort and also the accidental issues caused by them. Over usage of energy resources can also be avoided. For example, the business can implement intelligent energy supply systems more than conventional ones. Also using AI, we can adjust the cooling, heating and light sources depending on the energy price and the activity patterns. 

● Visual Collaboration 

The use of Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) can make the smart space more efficient through mapping the physical workspace to a digital replica. This can reduce the wastage by underutilized office space. VR can be applied in a simple conference meeting to give a real-life experience of being in the same room for employees even if they are from either end of the globe. AR, on the other hand, can be used to show overlaying data on the real-world view of the office. 

Make sure to ask for employee suggestions since they are the ones going to spend the entire day in the office environment. A great office is all about its happy employees. 

Done. What’s next? 

Analysing the Workforce in a Smart office 

Having a smart office alone cannot yield any benefit for the business. Even the most modern office equipped with the latest can yield technology unproductive and unsatisfying work results if the workforce fails to adapt to a new workspace or didn’t perform as expected. So, what can we do to get the maximum profit from a smart office? Let’s take a look at some real examples of smart office applications.

  • Security Solutions

Most of the smart offices are replacing the physical infrastructure with digital ones like sensors or motion-detecting devices, CCTV or security cameras, biometric access, smart lock, location tracking systems thus making their assets and confidential information more secure.

  • Energy and climate control

As we have discussed earlier through using emerging technologies like IoT and AI helps to cut down the energy and money wastage. Similar to this using intelligent HVAC systems we detect the regular usage patterns within the office space and with the help of that data, room temperature can be regulated. There are even temperature control devices where employees can make temperature adjustments from their personal devices.

  • Interconnectivity 

“An office without a wall”- that’s the idea of smart offices for companies that are adopting the concept. Knowledge transfer is made easier with the help of interconnected IoT devices and activity-based workspaces(ABW), thus providing access to open Wi-Fi, output devices and shareable information for all the employees in an easy manner.

  • Workforce communication and collaboration

Smart desks, smart conference rooms with the backing of smart devices interconnected through the concept of  IoT will improve workforce collaboration and leads to better communication, no matter where they are.

Smart offices are a fairly new vision which is now a hotshot term among businesses.

Having a smart office is not enough to make sure to run a long term analysis of workforce productivity in order to move forward to reap its benefits.

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