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Smart Buildings: The Future Of The Workplace

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The past 10 months have seen the concept of the traditional office space alter past the point of return. Hybrid and agile working, and a mix of collaborative and individual workspaces are no longer revolutionary. It is uncertain as to when and at work level employees will make a return to the office, however we know it is necessary to do so. Many companies are turning their buildings ‘smart’ to help them create an optimal working environment that supports the future of the workplace.

Smart buildings were once a very rare and unique concept being adopted by only the most radical of companies. It is now becoming more popular however amongst businesses. This is especially the case with many FTSE 100 companies; smart buildings have even been adopted by some of ‘The Big Six’. Deloitte’s The Edge building, for instance, is thought to be the smartest building in the world. That’s according to Bloomberg, at least, who have been collecting gigabytes of data on how the building and its employees interact. Central dashboards track everything from energy use, to when the coffee machines need to be refilled.

On days when fewer employees are expected, an entire section might even be shut down. This would significantly cut the costs of heating, cooling, lighting and cleaning. Smart buildings ensure businesses have the flexibility to operate their offices when at full capacity, empty, or somewhere in between. This revolutionary way to manage your entire building, whilst utilising integrated smart technologies throughout, helps to conserve energy, maximise space and utilise all resources according to employee footfall and demand.

 

Why Businesses Are Looking To Turn Their Buildings Smart!

 

Supporting Employee Development

It is said that 1% of company resources are spent on energy, 9% on buildings and 90% on people. Therefore, talent is the single biggest cost for most businesses. The attraction and retention of the strongest candidates often proves challenging, even at the best of times.

Providing employees with a great workspace as well as offering them flexibility to work remotely in a range of well-equipped environments all play a vital part in keeping employees engaged, productive and most importantly, happy.

Organisations must work to find out how they can adapt to rapidly changing conditions; they need to match those workers to new roles and activities. It’s vital that leaders have the ability to reskill, upskill and promote their employees to deliver growth. Again, integrated technology holds the key to achieving this. As we continue to shift to a new way of working, career development will need to follow suit and become more instant, tangible, and digital. Employees will feel that their employers care about their welfare and future with the company by ensuring they are given the best software and technology available for them to use.

 

Benefit Your Bottom-Line & The Environment

Smart buildings can be considered a “supersystem” of interconnected building subsystems. In a smart building, the integration of software and programmes can be used to reduce operating costs. At the same time, however, these systems conserve energy and, ultimately, help the environment.

There are numerous ways that a smart building can save money; most involve optimised operation and increased efficiency:

  • Matching occupancy patterns to energy use. A smart building will run more efficiently when there are fewer people inside.
  • Proactive maintenance of equipment. Automated data collection will instantly detect problems in the performance of equipment and services.
  • Dynamic power consumption. By taking signals from the electricity market and altering usage in response, a smart building ensures the lowest possible energy costs and often generates revenue by selling load reductions back to the grid.
  • Information at your fingertips. When information is available quickly and can be accessed anywhere, managers are able to make better decisions that have an immediate impact on profits, productivity, and processes.

 

How Can A Business Transition To A Smarter Way Of Working?

As we keep saying, the future (and the now, even) is all about data. We are entering a new age; an age where data, automation and connected technology will play a fundamental role in workplace and employee management, engagement, safety, business continuity and development. Basically, every aspect of a business is affected by data in one way or another.

 

Adapt To A Hybrid Or Agile Working Model

We’ve been using the terms ‘hybrid’ and ‘agile’ for quite some time now. Although this terminology is not new in terms of modern-day working practises, the on-going pandemic has highlighting these new ways of working to many businesses who would have previously not even considered them and who have now adopted this new approach to working. When employees start to return to the office, employers will look to reduce the number of employees occupying the office at any one time. Many companies will continue to allow employees to work flexibly; this is at the heart of the agile and hybrid working models.

However, there is research that suggests that remote working is not for everyone – according to a survey from the Society for Human Resources, 71% of us are struggling to adjust to remote work, 65% say maintaining employee morale has been a challenge, and more than a third are facing difficulties with company culture. Zoom meeting cannot replace workplace collaboration and ‘corridor conversations’ that can only happen in the office.

 

Assisting Facilities Management Teams

Fundamentally, the agile and hybrid working practise requires a smart, connected building management system to work effectively. Integrated office and building management systems provide facilities departments with the ability to understand the real-time and long-term use of space to improve employee well-being, enhance productivity, and reduce facility service costs.

The data collected from smart buildings is all automatically fed to facilities management teams. Without micro-managing or dictating rigid policies, these teams can effectively manage their workforce from afar, gaining unparalleled insight on activity, services and equipment.

 

Integrate Your Systems

When you combined your facilities and systems with the latest technology and software, that is where the real magic happens.

To create a smarter workplace building, you must integrate systems that allow automated monitoring and analysis of key processes. We have recently partnered with a product called Kahu so that we can combine our smart locker technology with desk and space booking software, giving users a quicker and more efficient way to manage their time spent in the office, all within one workplace app.

Smart office management technology can ensure that social distancing is maintained. This can be done by ensuring employees are located appropriately in agreed zones or collaborative areas, enabling lighting and heating to be switched off or reduced in areas that aren’t occupied, and to ensure employee facilities, such as our Simplicity smart lockers, can be appropriately allocated.

‘Going smart’ can help determine the best layout for your office. This will help minimise unnecessary contact and contamination amongst staff and to ensure the building is being used effectively.  With smart technologies used desks, spaces and storage facilities can be flagged and cleaned as soon as they are vacated.

Equally, smart office technology enables effective communication with, as well as the management and understanding of a workforce. We’re increasingly appreciating the role that this technology plays in creating a better work environment and a more enjoyable workplace. It’s time, then, to bounce back with smart and connected technology at its foundation – but integration is key!

 

How Simplicity Can Help!

Simplicity smart lockers can fit seamlessly into your new or existing workplace apps and systems. The technology located in each locker bank gives management teams real-time data on usage and occupancy. Reports can then be produced and the data analysed. From this, you can see whether facilities are being used efficiently and to what capacity with the flexibility to be able to re-locate these facilities according to need. 

Contact us to find out how our how smart lockers can help you create a smarter, agile or hybrid working environment which can support your smart building of the future.

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