Smart buildings are rapidly becoming the norm. From resource management to tracking, technology is improving how buildings are run and maintained in a myriad of ways. Businesses are now taking the same technology principles used to power smart buildings and bringing them into the workplace. That’s exciting, because “smart offices” open a new realm of possibilities for companies of all shapes and sizes.
Why It’s Smart to Have a Smart Workplace
Having a smart workplace relies on using advanced technology to increase connectivity and responsiveness. These workplaces use the Internet of Things (IoT) technology to ensure every aspect of the work environment can work together and create a well-organized, efficient, enjoyable workplace and serve the employees who inhabit that space on a daily basis. Technology makes this possible and impacts everything from energy efficiency and convenience (like lights that automatically go on when a room is occupied), to enhanced collaboration spaces, to improved employee communication.
Technology Impacts Culture
Speaking of communication, having a smart workplace can have a big impact on overall corporate culture within an organization. People expect their workplaces to have technology that’s at least as good as what they have at home—preferably better—and this is especially true for those digital natives, the Millennials. Studies show that happy employees are productive employees and productive employees lead to prosperous businesses. Equally as important is the ability of companies to not only attract, but also to retain top talent. When you create a workplace that is a pleasure to be in and work in and provide state-of-the-art technology, it goes a long way toward making employees want to stay around.
Technology Improves Office Management
Smart workplaces make life easier for office management teams. Not only can lights be programmed to power on at certain times or when employees log in, but they'll also shut off automatically—so conserving energy is a core part of business operations. The same is true for thermostats that can automatically adjust temperatures based on time of day, number of people in a room, and the like.
Other devices that make life in a smart workplace more fun are things like programmable coffee pots, fitness equipment, or wearables that track fitness and reward employees for reaching certain fitness goals.
Improving the Bottom Line with Machine Learning
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are no longer things out of a science fiction film. Machine learning is a fascinating concept that has the potential to improve a company’s operational efficiency and thus profitability. AI and machine learning are changing the way many companies operate. For example, employees can save time and prioritize more efficiently when systems can adapt to changes or issues independently. For example, a call system that uses an automated menu could learn over time to automatically direct calls to the proper departments, reducing time wasted on re-routes and mishandled customer issues.
Smart technology has the potential to take machine learning even further. For example, if an employee is having an issue with an application, a smart IT system could detect that the employee is using that particular program and automatically route the call to the appropriate IT team. Additionally, smart technology can allow for IT support regardless of physical location and with much more efficiency than email and phone communication. For example, video conferencing software could allow IT staff to visually identify problems and get a quicker assessment of an employee’s issue. Systems capable of learning could then use the incident as a frame of reference for future issues. The technology is still in its infancy in many ways, but the potential that machine learning has for the business world is nothing short of staggering.
Another benefit of smart workplaces is that they help build strong connections between employees by streamlining communications and making collaboration faster, easier, and more intuitive. Smart technology allows employees to quickly adapt to new situations and find the right people from other departments when a situation demands more hands. Employees are naturally going to grow to trust one another more and enjoy working together when collaboration isn’t just a necessity, but more of a part of the workplace culture.
In summary, the smart workplace is becoming the new normal. Making sure your business is taking advantage of the benefits that technology and a connected workplace have to offer can go a long way toward increased productivity, better corporate culture, more streamlined operations for your management team, increased profitability, and helping to forge stronger bonds between employees. What’s not to like about that?
Are you employed at a smart workplace? We’d love to hear what innovations you think are the most beneficial and what doesn’t (yet) exist that you’d like to see.
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