Without technology, employees wouldn’t be able to get much done at work. Those brave enough to venture into the office would have to sit in the dark and attempt to be productive with pen and paper. Without meaning to sound dramatic, office technology impacts nearly every aspect of our work days. Really—think about one task you can perform in the office without the use of technology. Even pouring yourself a cup of coffee requires a coffee maker!Most of us take for granted that the technology we need to be productive in the workplace is already there, waiting for us. The truth is, your office technology underpins employee productivity, effectiveness, and experience, so it’s not just a nice to have—it’s critical to the success of your business. That means that sourcing, purchasing, and implementing office technology is also hugely important. In this post, we’ll explore all things office technology to help you build out your new office or upgrade your existing one. We’ll cover:
What is office technology?
Office technology encompasses all of the technologies a business uses to remain in operation. This includes physical technologies, such as computers, printers, and WiFi routers. It also includes cloud-based software, such as space management, access control, and workplace technologies. Some office technology solutions enable business continuity, while others enhance the workplace experience for employees.
How to choose the right office technology
Choosing the right office technology to support your business is an ongoing, cross-functional effort. Since this technology is key to employee productivity and business success, it’s typically heavily scrutinized by executives, IT, security, finance, and legal teams before it’s approved for purchase. Whether you’re on the hunt for front office technology, hybrid collaboration tools, security solutions, or something else entirely, the steps outlined below will help you choose the right technology for your employees and business.
Step 1: Define your stakeholders
First things first, figure out who your core stakeholders will be. Many organizations have a committee dedicated to evaluating technology before they purchase it. They typically include employees (who use the technology), team leads (who are tasked with being change agents), IT managers, procurement managers, finance leaders, and compliance officers.
Step 2: Determine your business goals
Next, get clear on what your business wants to accomplish with the technology. It might be to improve customer retention, increase sales, or enable more productivity. Be sure to align with your stakeholders on these goals. This is a crucial step! You don’t want to waste time evaluating technologies only to find that the one you’re considering isn’t a priority for your business.
Step 3: Get end-user input
You’ll also want to hear from end users—the folks who’ll use the technology on the day to day. This could be employees, managers, or specific teams. It’s important to take their opinions into account since they’ll have insight into their daily needs and have preferred technologies in mind. Including these folks in the process will make them feel heard and give you a sense of their needs and concerns. This is an important step to reduce friction during the adoption phase that comes later.
Step 4: Consider scalability
Be sure to consider technology that’ll scale with your business as it grows. This will save your business time and money by ensuring you don’t go through the tedious process of purchasing and onboarding a tool only to find your team needs a more sophisticated one later on. Look for solutions that have a proven track record to support businesses through different stages of growth.
Step 5: Consider flexibility
Finally, consider technology that can support flexible working. A recent Accenture survey found that 83% of employees see flexible working models as ideal. If your work policies support flexibility, be thoughtful about what kinds of office technology solutions your onsite employees need to collaborate seamlessly with remote folks. We’ll give you some pointers on this in the next section.Speaking of flexibility, look for open platform technology that can integrate with your other tools. This way, it more easily fits into your existing tech stack and can be customized to meet the needs of your organization.
4 must-have types of office technology
So far you’ve learned what office technology is and how to choose the right ones for your business. Let’s shift gears and explore some must-have office technology solutions. Below, we’ve grouped solutions into popular use cases. Use this information to evaluate which technologies will be most helpful to adopt for your workplace, keeping in mind what you learned in the previous section.
1. Safety & security technology
This category of office technology helps keep businesses and their employees safe. It includes both physical and cyber security. With budgets tightening, organizations have to make smarter investments in technologies that support safety and security. This may not be the time to go out and experiment with new, nice-to-have technologies, like a facial recognition system. Instead, your organization should focus on solutions that reduce operational complexity and work with your existing tools.
- Access control: This technology helps workplace teams determine who’s allowed onsite and who isn’t. It allows approved employees and visitors entry to the workplace and automatically assigns them access permissions. It also disables visitor access after a preset time to ensure everyone onsite is supposed to be there.
- Visitor screening: This technology works hand-in-hand with your access control system. It runs a comprehensive and instant background check on visitors to ensure folks coming into the workplace meet your entrance criteria.
- Lighting and cameras: This technology can illuminate and record activity in and around the workplace. It can act as a deterrent against break-ins and burglaries. It also captures footage that your security team can review in the event of a breach.
- Emergency notification system: This technology enables you to notify employees and visitors during a critical event. It also allows you to send safety instructions to everyone onsite via SMS, email, and desktop alerts.
2. Return-to-office technology
This technology supports your return-to-office efforts by helping you understand how folks use the workplace. You can use the data this technology provides to optimize your space and ensure employees have a better experience onsite.
- Employee registration system: This technology allows employees to register to work onsite. It gives workplace managers a daily headcount of who will be in the workplace for more efficient planning. It also provides attendance data so employers can understand return-to-office trends, such as which days of the week employees come into the office most.
- Desk booking system: This technology enables employees to book a desk in the workplace. They can also see where coworkers are sitting so they can plan to sit near teammates or work buddies. With data from your desk booking system, you can make changes to your layout that make the most sense for employees.
- Room reservation system: This technology helps employees easily find and book a room in the workplace. They can also free up a room if their meeting is moved or canceled so others can book it. With data from your room reservation system, you can spot room booking trends and use this information to optimize the office space.
- Workplace platform: This technology encompasses all of the smart workplace solutions above. It empowers employees to work together in person. A workplace platform has tools and dashboards to help you optimize your space with analytics. It integrates with other tools and technologies your team and employees use. Essentially, it’s a workplace powerhouse.
3. Hybrid technology
This technology supports organizations with flexible working models, enabling both in-person and remote work at the same time. The solutions most critical to flexible work also seem the most straightforward. Yet, if any of these tools go down for just a few minutes it can grind a business’s productivity to a halt.
- Video conferencing: This technology allows employees to meet virtually with coworkers, clients, and business partners. It includes cameras, audio equipment, and video conferencing software.
- Instant messaging: This technology makes it easy for employees to send direct messages to coworkers, teams, and groups. It keeps communication flowing and helps folks stay connected throughout the workday. Instant messaging can include on-the-fly communication and automated notifications, such as a daily message that asks employees to rate the onsite lunch options.
- Project management software: This technology allows teams to stay informed on the progress of different tasks and projects regardless of their location.
4. Visitor experience technology
This technology includes solutions designed to give your visitors a great experience in the workplace. It also helps keep your team informed of who’s on site and when, keeping you organized and your employees safe.
- Parking management: This technology helps visitors reserve an onsite parking space in advance. It saves them time looking for parking and assures them that their space is located in an area approved by your organization.
- Visitor registration system: This technology enables visitors to sign into the workplace upon arrival, prompting them to sign any necessary documents before entering. It also notifies employees when their visitors arrive so they don’t leave them waiting.
- Badge printer: This technology prints badges for workplace visitors to wear while they’re onsite automatically after sign-in. Badges include the visitor’s name, photo, and other relevant information, such as the reason for their visit and what areas of the workplace they can access.
- WiFi provisioning: This technology securely provisions network access so visitors can connect to WiFi while they’re onsite. It directly sends visitors unique login credentials once they’ve signed into the workplace.
5 steps to implementing new technology in the workplace
Now’s the fun part: getting your office technology up and running! This is where you’ll see all of your hard work pay off. But, if you don’t take the right approach, this is also where your efforts might fall flat. Follow the five steps below to get your office technology solutions up and running, and secure some big wins for your team, employees, and business.
Step 1: Setup your technology
Partner with your IT team on setting up the new technology. As stakeholders, they’ll have a good idea of how to run this process. While they handle the technical piece, you can help by managing timelines and setting expectations for a technology change with end users. We’ll talk about this more in Step 2.
Step 2: Make the right announcements
Be sure to use multiple channels to ensure the message gets across. This might include making an announcement at an all-hands meeting, sending out an email, pinging the right groups on Slack, or posting a notice on your company’s intranet. In some cases, it might make sense to do all of the above. Here are some example sections and FAQs you might want to include:
- Why we’re moving to [new technology]
- What the [new technology] does
- What action I should take
- What learning resources are available for [new technology]?
- Where can I direct additional questions?
Since you’ve already done a great job of keeping the right people in the loop, there shouldn’t be any surprises for the folks impacted. Still, it’s good practice to make an additional announcement prior to going live with the technology. This way, you get the message across to anyone who might have missed your previous communications.
Step 3: Train users
Get folks up and running on the new technology quickly to help them get familiar with it. The sooner you can do this the better, to avoid slow or low adoption rates. Hold time on people’s calendars so they know when to expect a training and be sure to record the training for new hires and folks who can’t attend. For software tools, it’s a best practice to ask vendors what kind of training they offer before committing to their service.
Step 4: Monitor the technology and adoption
Once your technology is live, be sure to monitor it and how folks are adapting to using it. While your IT team may be able to solve technical issues that might arise, you can play a role in ensuring folks have the best possible experience with the new technology. Set up a feedback loop so end users can log issues and wins. This will give you insight into what’s working and what’s not, so that you can solve problems before they grow larger. This is also a great opportunity to set up additional training sessions if needed.
Step 5: Celebrate wins
Take time to celebrate the wins that the technology enabled. Too often companies invest in office technology and forget to report on team successes! Talk to stakeholders and end users to see what they’ve achieved using the new technology. Be sure to share how these wins map onto the team’s original list of business goals. Sharing wins is a great way to flex your tech-purchasing skills to your executive team and get more folks excited about what they can accomplish with the technology. —There are so many workplace technology trends, navigating them all can be a dizzying process. Luckily, there are clear steps you can take to make it out of the labyrinth unscathed—with big wins for your business. Just remember: focus on office technology that supports business goals, work closely with cross-functional stakeholders, and consider solutions that can scale with your organization. Once it’s time for implementation, follow the steps we’ve outlined above. Finally, give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve saved the day by ensuring folks have what they need to be productive, efficient, and happy in the workplace—and we think that makes you a (workplace) hero!