Miguel Aguado, marketing and technology manager at Lutron Electronics looks at workspaces in the ‘new normal’

With lockdown restrictions having eased, we are now entering the ‘new normal’ stage. Whether shopping, eating out or getting a haircut, we can start to see the impact of the pandemic on the nature of day-to-day interactions.

Fundamental to this period is the return to the traditional workplace. As we begin the transition to the ‘new normal’, we are likely to find our workspaces and coworkers interactions our interactions with coworkers will have to adjust to maintain safety and meet with social distancing guidelines. The fabric of our working environment will have to be changed to meet the new demands.

On the positive side, business and office managers have made workplace wellbeing, safety and efficiency a priority for a decade. Wireless, connected technology has proliferated across the industry, making the adaptation of spaces possible in a short time frame.

While our offices will have to further embrace technology and its benefits, the pandemic is likely to have a wider impact on our working habits. Inevitably many of us will end up working remotely for the short and long term. Now is the ideal time to review the key technologies enabling a comfortable, productive and safe office environment and see how these lessons can be ‘taken home’.

Automated processes

Automation has long been working behind the scenes to ensure the comfort of employees. Today it plays a fundamental role, from presence detection to air con and blind solutions, multiple systems are automated to ensure the optimal environment for occupants.

In a post-Covid workplace, the sensor-based technology which allows these systems to operate will become even more crucial. By minimising touch and effectively enabling managers to gain a better understanding of space utilisation and worker movement patterns, sensor technology can make the office a safer and more comfortable place to work.

Wireless control

In the workplace, every occupant has varying and changing requirements. To create an optimal environment, we need a level of intuitive and personal control that enables users to independently select the setting to suit their needs – whether it be lighting suited to concentration and computer screen glare or ensuring the right temperature levels.

In the office environment, electricians and facility managers have been opting for lighting solutions that allow users can easily make changes to settings/scenes without the need to call a contractor each time there is a personnel change. This means the working spaces can continue to adapt and evolve with the ever-evolving needs of the working community.

The same should be applied at home – whereas office spaces are used by multiple people, home spaces are used for multiple purposes. Users need the flexibility and adaptability that wireless control provides to ensure that every use of the space has a corresponding lighting scene.

Taking the workplace home

While workers have celebrated an end to commuting, for many of us the last few months have brought into sharp focus just how unconducive our home offices are for working.

Technology is no longer a barrier – today, we can be productive from home by creating an adaptable functioning and comfortable home office. We must use the lessons from the workplace and bring them home in the most efficient means possible.

While the importance a seat, desk and monitor are all widely appreciated, lighting plays a crucial, and often overlooked role in creating the right environments. Having the right light and controlling glare is just as important at home as it is in the office.

Adding dimming capabilities to a floor or table lamp, that is easily adjustable from a control on the desk; or adding battery powered motorised shades to control glare, these capabilities have never been easier to add thanks to reliable wireless and battery management technologies.

Preparing for the new normal

Updating our workspaces will be necessary to not only keep us safe, but to improve our office-based work experience, making us feel more comfortable and therefore more productive.

For years, businesses have been prioritising workplace comfort. Companies of all sizes have invested significant amounts to provide a personalised, efficient and ultimately productive office, that improves employee satisfaction, wellbeing and moral. It’s time we take these lessons and bring them into the home, embracing the new wireless, automated and flexible technology to create the right environment.