With over half the world’s population connected to the internet equating to 3.5 billion active users at any one time online, it’s safe to say that the virtual world is booming, and it all weighs the equivalent of one medium sized egg! For many of us technology has become part of our daily lives as we use it to interface with the world around us to find directions, check cinema times, order groceries and even to replace the need for physical co-presence. But our relationship with technology has become habitual, and as such it is no surprise that the data collected from our usage has become a new source of commodity bought, sold and used to improve content and inform business decisions.
Much like the data trail we leave on our phones we are also leaving traces in our work environments, the difference being that our phones are connected to the internet and our workplace is often not. You may have heard of a term referred to as the ‘Internet of Things’, the idea is simple, by equipping devices with sensors and connecting them over the internet we are creating a conduit that allows technology to communicate with each other and us in response to variables. For example, your central heating system will be able to track occupant activity and heating preferences to auto create a heating schedule for your rooms and notify you of any anomalies or defects improving efficiency, minimising wastage and providing cost savings.
We spend approximately 90% of our lives inside either in buildings or on transport. These spaces have a considerable impact on our emotional, behavioural and cognitive state, as an influence of how we experience space and how we use it. As technology has progressed from filling the equivalent of a house to barely filling our pocket, our physical environment has become an essential enabler of a transient population and a data conduit as we connect our devices to the Internet of Things.
As organisations evolve in response to shifting business needs and challenges, the workplace is often an overlooked underlying tool that can be leveraged to meet many strategic objectives. These might include to promote agile working, improve the efficiency of space, or the attraction and retention of talent to name a few. However the interlinking theme that ensures these initiatives are successful is the robustness and suitability of technology, and how organisations can capitalise on technology to make our work environments smart, responding in real time to changes and interfacing with people as they experience and use space. Just like our smart central heating system!
Here are some examples of how we can make our work environments work for organisations by making them smart, connecting them to the Internet of Things. In five years’ time all of these examples will be common place, but it all starts by engaging with your technology teams from day one and baking the infrastructure into any workplace intervention from the outset.
TECH FOR A CONNECTED WORKPLACE
AGILE WORKING: Agility of the workforce is intrinsically linked to the mobility of technology, ensuring that the workplace is wifi and thin-client enabled will empower people to move around the building, working in a space the best supports their activity. The larger the workplace the more discouraging it is to walk around trying to find an available space, by providing a digital map on a large screen in the core or circulation areas that provides insight into the availability of worksettings and rooms in real time will allow employees to scout out a workspace that best supports their work activity with ease.
IMMERSIVE WAYFINDING: A digital 3d map of your workplace for desktop and smartphone that will engage people as they enter a geo-fenced area providing a visual route from A to B pushing notifications as you move through the building using beacon technology.
PEOPLE DIRECTORY: Using a workplace app, beacon and geo-fence technology your location can be plotted on a digital map of the workplace so your colleagues are able to find you in the building in real time. Consider certain areas of the building to be directory free and opt-out enabled for privacy and security purposes.
MEETING ROOM AVAILABILITY: A control panel placed on the outside of meeting rooms that detect when you arrive loading your lighting and temperature preferences whilst also logging you into the AV system. If the room is not in use it will automatically put the meeting room back onto the booking system as available.
REAL TIME OCCUPANCY LEVELS: Smart sensors can be integrated into HVAC systems, such as lighting, providing real-time analytics on building performance and space utilisation. Beacon technology can also be used per worksetting to provide granular detail to specific worksetting usage.
WORKPLACE APP: A custom built workplace application that consolidates many features in one accessible location, including a social feed, news, employee pulse surveys, events, payslips, vacation days, expense claims, café payment, room bookings, AV sync, and wellness tracking gamification for incentivised employee rewards.
BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE: It is important to consider building a robust data analytics platform that will relay business intelligence on real-time utilisation whilst consolidating many other building performance indicators to monitor and manage the workplace effectively.
TOP TIPS FOR SUCCESS:
Start the conversation with developers, occupiers, and technology / security teams as early as possible.
Consider consolidating support service departments and combine their budgets so everything is considered holistically as a unified team.
Script all potential journey experiences through the building and as part of peoples work process considering what technology interventions can be designed to enhance it.
Review all elements that already exist or will exist in the building and how they can be connected to the Internet of Things to create a smart building, you can start in a room and scale up to a building.
Consider IT security carefully. Anything that connects with beacon sensors and the Internet of Things offers an opportunity for outsiders to break into an organisations network. Many companies that do this often run two separate networks, one as a building network and one as an enterprise network.
If you would like to find out more information on the Internet of Things and how it can be leveraged to improve the efficiency and experience of work environment then please get in touch for an informal chat.
Jordan Jones, Design Strategist, HLW London
+44 (0)20 7566 6830