As part of the bigger technological shift towards a more automated, efficient lifestyle, the smart office has become a popular trend to transform the American workplace. In fact, the smart office has become a new workplace expectation to create harmonious marriage between mankind and technology. Our desires for a better work life and conditions have become stronger as we spend the better part of the day physically present at the office.
How might we define a “smart office”?
A smart office, in simple terms, is a network of everyday devices that send and receive data, and act in a fully or partially automated manner. Because data is collected, analyzed, and secured, we derive the word “smart office” from those actions. Standing desks that memorize your ideal height settings, or light switches that engage when sensing motion are two examples. There are a myriad of smart technologies that boost productivity and energy efficiency in office management.
The smart office isn’t a new concept. The trend of weaving technology into our offices and professional lives has actually been ongoing for long time. Ever since the introduction of computer networking into mainstream office culture, more and more devices, programs, and infrastructure systems have become sophisticated and interconnected. Today, a smart office transcends computers and connected conference rooms with projectors—it’s about using varied approaches, such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices or ergonomic engineering, to enhance worker productivity.
A smart office saves time by automating mundane tasks and operations
Smart technology automates many basic office functions and building operations. This includes things like conference scheduling, controlling lights/temperature, and maintaining security protocols. Connecting these systems onto a single integration platform makes operations faster and more efficient.
Think about something like booking a quick impromptu meeting, a frustrating process in a traditional corporate context. A solution like Visionect’s JOAN Manager—a simple, sleek wall tablet that acts as an interactive room scheduler—makes the process more efficient. Employees have the flexibility to book important meetings on the spot with few clicks and have that information relayed to other calendar services like G Suite, Office 365, and iCal to notify themselves and other co-workers.
Smart lights or A/C equipped with sensors is another automated feature that can save office managers time and energy. Devices like Wemo’s Smart Light Switch are becoming more affordable and are budget-friendly options that streamline day-to-day operations at the office. Optimizing light intensity, setting schedules or timers for the peace of mind, and using voice-enabled features make this product resourceful in so many ways. Adding another layer to the “smartness” would be to have the switch do this on its own—a feature possible with an addition of a motion sensor to detect room occupancy.
Smart technology helps us to optimize resources to save money
The best smart office solutions collect data from different parts of the building and integrate them into a single platform. Take Cisco’s Catalyst Digital Building Series Switches for example. This smart solution that condenses building analytics like energy usage, and automates adjustments for different conditions in the office in real time. These switches connects all the individual sensors in rooms, HVAC systems, lighting, and security access, which makes it easier for businesses to understand and optimize energy usage of different parts of the building. They come with power over Ethernet (PoE) features, which means a single Ethernet cable is capable of providing both internet connection and electrical power to devices. With a single cable, you simplify installation of cables and get the flexibility of placing network cables anywhere in the office space.
Smart automation makes physical security operations more cost-efficient as well. For example, installing several smart cameras that can detect sound and movement at night can replace the hefty investment of full staff of security personnel. When it comes to network security, IoT’s centralized platform means more control and visibility of every system and program in the building. That’s a peace of mind that every company would want especially in this day and age where data breaches and hacks are common.
A stress-free environment means happy, productive employees
The core of any company is the workforce, and investing in it is just as important as having a functional building. One of the many ways to achieve this is to invest in ergonomic design and structure in the office. Many industries today demand desk-oriented operations and sedentary work styles. This can pose some health risks for employees. To avoid that, there are ergonomic solutions. Take the desks for reference: standing desks not only provide some much needed blood flow, but they burn calories, reduce risk of heart disease, and prevent the bad postures that come from extended sitting.
The aforementioned climate control method solves the age-old “thermostat wars” that occur in just about every single office on this planet. Some enjoy the cold, while others may feel their spines freeze up with agony. According to a sample of one study, half of the employees are often left unhappy with the temperature they have to work in. Less than ideal work conditions start to immediately decrease the productivity and increase the stress of employees.
Having an automated ecosystem that’s connected to a single platform reduces stress and improves concentration. Think of implementation of smart devices as another form of investing in your employees, a method of boosting efficiency, productivity, and well-being.
Where do you start?
IoT devices, ergonomic design, and a centralized IP platform are all still ongoing developments. It’s still going to take some time for these systems and products to be the norm. However, productivity benefits and a smarter office can always start somewhere—the standing desks, smart switches, and smart tablets can be really budget-friendly while providing the tangible productivity benefits instantly. Employees will feel better about going about their daily work while investing less time and effort on other menial tasks, such as scheduling conference rooms and turning off the lights.
Even the smart home devices, such as Amazon Echo, can be utilized in the office to provide the ease of voice-enabled functions. Companies should constantly invest in their most valuable assets: the employees. Here are some of the products that can help manifest a smarter office.
Rosewill Electric Height Adjustable Standing Desk
Having a choice to stand is better than having none in the first place. These desks not only offer dynamic postures from standing, but also has memory settings to accurately adjust the height for you. Pricing & product details
NETGEAR Arlo Pro 2 Security Camera System
Traditional cameras may not offer you that full-proof peace of mind. With this Arlo Pro 2, you can detect motion and sound at a high quality and connect this with other smart devices like Alexa (even in the dark). Pricing & product details
Cisco Catalyst Digital Building Series Switch
A practical, budget-friendly switch to connect disparate lighting, HVAC, security, sensors and audio-video systems, into one IP platform. Smart, simple, secure operation in a standalone form factor. Pricing & product details
Visionect JOAN Manager 6”
The wireless room scheduler streamlines the process of organizing and booking rooms. The best part about this is that it uses 99% less energy than LCD or LED-screen tablets. Pricing & product info