A “smart workplace” once sounded like a futuristic concept. Lights, temperature, and doors controlled with motion sensors and voice commands. Desks and rooms reserved with the click of a button. Airtight security with automated locks and access levels. Doesn’t sound too far-fetched anymore, does it? In today’s working world, this vision has become the norm. Beyond looking impressive, smart workplaces use technology to help employees be more efficient and productive..Keeping your workplace sharp is a constant process. As technology and ways of working evolve, so must your smart workplace. When you get the basics right, you’ll have a strong foundation to build on. Let’s dive into the smart workplace basics—and how to implement them—for a thriving culture and productive company. In this post, we’ll cover:
What is a smart workplace?
A smart workplace is one that uses technology to help employees work more efficiently by automating tedious tasks, managing workflows, and connecting systems and software to create a seamless workplace experience. The smartest workplaces are those that go unnoticed. Integrated technology hums in the background as employees reserve desks, book meeting rooms, access facilities, sign in at the front desk, track visitors, and more.
How can a smart workplace benefit your organization?
A smart workplace relies on technology to automate the tasks people often forget to do. For example, forgetting to book a meeting room until the time of the meeting can be frustrating. There’s often no meeting rooms left, and you’re stuck with limited options like sitting in the kitchen area. In a smart workplace, technology automatically assigns a meeting room when you book it in your calendar. It also shows which rooms are available at the time by using color-coded displays.Here are a few ways smart workplace solutions can help benefit your organization and transform your office. A smart workplace can:
- Help optimize your space. A smart workplace can help you manage your physical space more effectively. Space management software like hot desking is a great example, because it offers the ability to book a desk in advance or on the day–wherever you want in the office. This flexible seating arrangement helps you visualize how employees use your office space. That means that if and when the time comes, you know how to improve it by adjusting your space.
- Offer a seamless visitor experience. A staple of a smart workplace is the technology that people first interact with in your office. A visitor management system can drastically improve the sign-in experience from paper and pen to sleek and digital. It can also automate everything you need it to, like obtaining signed NDAs, sharing safety videos, or providing documents. This helps save time for staff, ensure quality, and impress your visitors from the get-go.
- Improve your building security. A smart workplace harnesses the power of technology to uplevel the security of each building or location. Examples include using access control technology to manage who can come onsite and which areas of the workplace they’re permitted to visit. With this technology, you can automatically assign visitors access permissions based on your preferences. More on access control later.
- Improve productivity levels. According to our At Work report, over half of executives (54%) agree that productivity is the most important reason why folks should return to the office. By creating a smart workplace, you can help further fuel your employees’ productivity by enabling better time management and freeing up space for creativity and innovation.
- Drive employee happiness. The more your employees can focus on the work they love rather than tedious manual tasks, the better. A smart workplace can help drive employee happiness by providing a peaceful and efficient environment for folks to be a part of. With less stress comes greater happiness–both in their job and in your workplace.
Drawbacks of implementing a smart workplace
Implementing a smart workplace can require a significant amount of time for proper setup, configuration, and integration of various technologies. Since employees need time to learn new systems and tools, this time investment may initially impact business productivity. The good news is, in the long run, the time saved from automating manual tasks can result in increased efficiency and productivity for your organization.In addition to time, creating a smart workplace requires financial investment to purchase and set up. Don’t let this upfront cost deter you, though. Making investments now can have long-term benefits, such as increased operational efficiency, cost savings, and improved employee satisfaction—all which contribute to the overall success and growth of the organization. You can even turn this “drawback” around by sharing all of the wins made possible by the new technology with your executive team.
Pro tip: Look for smart technology that’s designed for admins and employees. They’ll be more likely to use the new tools if they personally experience the benefits.
4 staple solutions for your smart workplace
The benefits of creating a smart workplace might sound too good to be true. But the reality is that every organization willing to put a few tried and true solutions in place can reap the rewards we mentioned above. The result? A workplace where employees can work more productively and employers can yield better business results. The available smart technology out there can be overwhelming, so here's a shortlist of the key smart solutions you should consider integrating in your workplace.
Smart workplace solution #1: Workspace booking solutions
A hybrid workplace, where employees split their time between remote and onsite work, has made desks and rooms less of a given and more of a commodity. Gone are the days of permanent desks and rigid rules. Now, employees want the autonomy that goes with flexible work. Teams want to choose where and how they work for effective collaboration and productivity. Workplace booking solutions are a smart way to help manage this expectation. Workplace booking solutions include:
- Meeting room booking. Sync up employee schedules and meeting rooms with room scheduling software. The most effective meeting room booking apps communicate with display screens outside of the room and allow folks to reserve a room in advance or on-the-go. Display screens show when the meeting room is in use and when it’s available. It should also detect if a room isn’t actually in use during the reserved time, to free up space for impromptu meetings. This synchronized smart workplace technology makes planning easier for employees while ensuring spaces are being used to their fullest potential.
- Desk booking. Enable hot desking, office hoteling, and flexible working with desk booking solutions. With this feature, employees can select a preferred desk before they come into the office. They can even reserve that desk for certain hours, freeing it up for others to book while they’re in meetings or out to lunch. This helps maximize office space and makes employees feel more in control of their onsite experience.
Smart workplace solution #2: Security solutions
Smart workplace technology can also make your workplace more secure. Protecting your physical workplace has always been important, but none more so than in a flexible workplace where people are coming and going at any given time. Security solutions take the burden off of your front desk staff and help your security team prevent safety breaches. Security solutions include:
- Visitor management. Integrate visitor screening systems and visitor sign-in with smart workplace technology. A touchless visitor management system allows visitors to complete a questionnaire ahead of time. This could include a health screening, a reason for visiting, and an anticipated time window for their visit. When the visitor arrives, they can check in and notify their host without having to wait in the lobby.
- Access control. Access control is a physical security method that controls or limits access to a space. You can integrate employee ID badges and rooms with access control technology, synchronizing systems to give different employees different access levels depending on their position. For example, building maintenance should have access to the boiler room, while the sales team doesn’t need that. This ensures the right people are in the right place while keeping your office secure.
- Cyber control. Workplace threats are on the rise, especially those that exist around IT like cyber attacks and ransomware attacks. There are many opportunities for harmful actors to get onto your company’s WiFi and steal important information. Prevent cyber attacks with an airtight WiFi provisioning system. Smart security solutions can unite your visitor management and employee ID systems by identifying employees and other authorized visitors and allowing them access to your network.
Smart workplace solution #3: Occupancy sensors
You can integrate occupancy sensors into all your smart workplace technology. This includes workspace booking solutions, security solutions, and your building maintenance software. Occupancy sensors track who’s using your workplace and how often. This data helps workplace managers decide how to use the space (like whether to right-size the space or remodel certain areas). It helps security and front desk staff manage guests and visitors by tracking capacity and traffic flow. It helps your building cafeteria managers decide how much food to prepare on any given day, based on attendance trends. Knowing how many people are coming in, and when, helps your workplace be more proactive and responsible.
Smart workplace solution #4: Health and safety solutions
Keep your workplace healthy and safe with a proactive monitoring approach. Integrate health and safety solutions with your employee and visitor management solutions. This technology equips front desk employees, security folks, and workplace managers with the information they need to maintain a healthy and safe office. Integrate your health and safety solutions with your workplace management systems in the following ways:
- Touchless sign-in. Modernize your visitor sign-in process with touchless sign-in. This feature allows visitors to check-in before they arrive onsite, saving your front desk staff time, reducing hassle, and ensuring everyone has the right information. With a touchless sign-in method, your visitors will automatically get the right type of ID badge and access levels. It also alerts the host of their arrival. This ensures no one can slip through the cracks.
- Capacity visibility. Occupancy sensors are a central feature of health and safety solutions. They can detect how many people are in your workspace at any given time, helping you to make decisions about your space when it’s at full capacity or less.
--A smart workplace can transform your organization and way of working. Smart technologies like Siri and Alexa have become staples in our homes, making life easier and more automated. Now, smart technologies are entering the workplace. They help to create a seamless employee experience and an environment that is efficient and productive for everyone.Thinking about what else the future can hold? Download our ebook about workplace technology trends for 2023 and beyond to stay ahead of the curve.