Building owners and operators cannot ignore tech as a major factor in planning spaces and should be increasingly mindful that a fully connected building is a critical factor for the largest generation in the workplace – millennials. The expectations and habits of this new generation of digital natives is changing how smart workplaces are being designed, occupied and operated. Amenities and features that are linked to smartphones will become a growing element of the smart building infrastructure and will need to mirror the way in which an entire generation is accustomed to interacting.
However, buildings will only ever be as smart as the interconnectivity between the different types of intelligent services and features. A growing number of organisations are recognising that adapting to non-traditional workplace strategies and spaces can contribute to their overall business effectiveness, productivity and efficiency. Not only that, but new technologies like wireless charging also have the power to make buildings smarter, without needing to knock-down floors and walls because the infrastructure lives in the cloud.
Smart tech to help ease workplace congestion
Hundreds of buildings, at least 20-floors high, are expected to be built in London between now and 2030 and as a swarm of employees enter these spaces, there is a clear need for more efficient mechanisms that keep buildings running as efficiently and smoothly as possible to avoid them feeling like the M25 on a Friday evening – unnecessarily congested and stressful. The key is in focusing on what people will need from a building to be productive and successful in their use of it.
Let’s take booking a meeting room as a practical example. 62% of office space is not utilised effectively, while employees waste 30 minutes a day just looking for available space to work or having meetings. Smart wireless charging acts as a trigger point for other IoT devices and software platforms, so an employee placing a phone on a wireless charging spot in a meeting room will automatically check them in and mark the room as busy. A live meeting room occupancy heat map displaying live information about the availability and occupation density of meeting rooms for the whole building – displayed via a cloud management platform - would then facilitate the efficient search of free space for other employees, rather than them wasting time pacing the building on their hunt for a meeting room.
There is also evidence to suggest that employee productivity in a space increases when they have greater control over and a better understanding of their work environment. The smart wireless charging point in the meeting room also acts as a trigger to create a personalised environment, like automatically adjusting heating and lighting based on an individual’s preference or kick-starting a conference call or work session via one single mobile app.
Smart data to transform business process
Without analyzing and leveraging data from IoT devices, it is impossible for businesses to know how their assets are performing. There are inevitable rewards which come with making a property produce the kind of data that would make even the likes of Google sit up and take notice. Behavioral data that reveals how and when spaces are being used will give building managers the ammunition to make changes – utility and equipment spend - that ensure they are sweating every asset in a building. In fact, companies can save approximately 15% of their capital asset spend by focusing on optimising existing building assets and prioritising maintenance.
And, whilst there is a clear financial benefit to reducing spend on utilities and equipment, there are also behavioral benefits to IoT devices. Data on the behavior of employees will allow businesses to better understand their teams and how they use the workspace. Leveraging this network data will give companies the ability to gain a new level of business intelligence, to drive a real data-driven culture based on facts, instead of predictions and drive transparency within a company. Innovation only happens when value is added.
Smart buildings reduce cost with worry-free maintenance
Unlike traditional tech systems which rely on prevention and repair, IoT connected devices will enable a shift to conditions-based maintenance in real time. An integrated IoT management platform gives a business full control of its wireless charging network. It continually scans the real time status of the network, including details and attributes of individual smart charging spots such as connectivity and power delivered.
Real-time alerts inform on diagnostics detected, with many issues resolved over-the-air using remote tools for debugging and diagnostics management. This type of management system reduces operational and maintenance costs and will give businesses the peace-of-mind that their smart wireless charging network simply just works.
The genuine opportunity for employers is in crafting a destination for teams and individuals; one that mimics the environment that millennials – who now account for more than one-third of the global workforce – have become accustomed to outside of work and one that satisfies expectations. The way people use an office is changing - employees want the freedom to seamlessly move between spaces depending on how they feel or the nature of the task at hand and a truly smart building can deliver this.