The key is to create offices that don’t just please the eye but work well on all parameters. Millennial have different needs and work habits compared to Gen X or the Baby Boomers.
By Jaiprakash Aildasani
The evolution of technology and emphasis on optimal utilization of space and resources has been driving the ‘Smart-Revolution’ in all aspects of life and workspaces are key areas witnessing this transformation. Every organization, big or small, localized or global, is aiming to make its offices smarter and more people friendly. When we say smart offices, it doesn’t just imply appealing furniture and building designs or a heavy involvement of gadgets. Rather, such offices are those that perform better at being interactive spaces, improve productivity, enhance experiences and generate real time data. For a top-notch user experience, it is essential that the entire movement starting from the parking lot entry to the designated meeting room or workstation has to be seamless.
Automated sensor based parking assist systems and navigation signs ensures the parking area remains unclogged at all times. Imagine the comfort experienced by a client when his/her arrival is digitally communicated to all present in the building , making the whole experience quick and seamless. Contemporary smart offices have clear and well-defined navigation systems that assist even the first-time visitors to quickly and easily reach their destination in the building without the need to ask anyone.
Integration of cutting-edge technologies such as AI and Big Data have ushered in an era of personalized ambiance. There are internet-of-things and AI integrated tools that identify you or any past visitor, the moment you enter the premises. Accordingly, the system identifies your destination in the building and any historical data regarding the people you interact with or your preferred food, room with temperature and light settings. It can also turn on the desktop gadgets that you are likely to use.
Depending on whether you are a coffee or a tea person or someone who starts his/her day with a specific snack, the smart systems might even automatically place the order to make the whole experience a lot more seamless and optimal . With such smart and efficiency boosting systems in place, the user is not only likely to spend more time but , also deliver more productivity with less fatigue. Smart sensors-based workspaces are also cutting down on wastage of resources that takes place in the meeting rooms. There are times when two-three people occupy a meeting room meant for whole teams.
However, smart sensors-based technology works out the number of users and sets temperature, lighting and air quality in accordance with the people present. Further, by turning on the meeting room lights, air-conditioning, ventilation and presentation display equipment automatically, smart offices can help save a lot of precious time for the users.
The key is to create offices that don’t just please the eye but work well on all parameters. Millennial have different needs and work habits compared to Gen X or the Baby Boomers. However, large corporations are bound to have a workforce that includes personnel from different ethnic, age or gender groupings. Hence, there is a need for agile offices that cater to their diverse needs and also include spaces like a larger cafeteria, various capacity meeting rooms and different work zones.
Convertible office furniture like desks that can be easily turned into personalized, semi-enclosed cubicles as well as into seamless co-working tables for those preferring to work in a collaborative setting, is gaining popularity. For instance, Space Matrix is working with Verizon to transform its offices in Hyderabad and Chennai to be highly agile workspaces, empowering their employees with choice of work settings to be more productive. LAN free, wi-fi enabled office buildings are becoming increasingly common, and eliminating the need for people to be rooted to their desks.
The rapidly rising work-from-home trend has been made possible by technologies like cloud and digital communication. Even office infrastructure like server room racks are becoming leaner and smarter, delivering more output and consuming less space. In fact, the smart offices also mean workplaces with more seamless, efficient and robust backend operations such as IT and front-desk.
Smart offices are a key to success in the contemporary business world. Technology is constantly evolving as an enabler and it is imperative for the modern office space creators to channel technology’s power towards optimum utilization of office spaces and resources.
(The author is Regional Managing Director, India, Space Matrix. Views expressed are personal.)