Six months ago the world’s office workers wanted to spend more time at home. Fast-forward to the first quarter of 2020 and several weeks into the world’s largest work-from-home experiment, many are yearning for a return to the office.
Technology has been a global safety net, enabling a level of business continuity during a time of crisis that would have been unthinkable even ten years ago. Our working lives won’t be the same after COVID-19; that much is clear. But we won’t all be permanently based from home, either. We’ll see huge variability around the world but certainly we can be reasonably confident that the solution will lie somewhere in between. Smarter workspaces rationalized by data analytics will merge with forward-thinking work-from-home policies to create a more dynamic, flexible generation of employees.
The question is: what role can technology play in paving the way to this ‘new normal’, and ultimately making it succeed? How will it positively impact both businesses and employees? Here are three ways smarter workplaces will quite literally change the way the world works:
1. Technology will keep us apart…in a good way
Social distancing won’t end when we go back to the office. Our return to the workplace will undoubtedly require a transition period, in which firms may have to limit the number of employees to ensure offices aren’t unsafely crowded. Data-driven insights into office space utilization will allow real estate leaders to intelligently reduce the density of desks, maintaining a safe distance between workstations and limiting the number of employees in a given area. Data on space and amenity usage from IoT platforms like Enlighted will also allow for relevant decisions to be made faster; for example if specific areas of the office should be opened or closed based on user traffic and occupancy. For employees, real-time occupancy status and desk/room-booking via workplace apps like Comfy can also enable workers to decide whether they can safely book a desk at the office, or if they should instead work from home.
2. Focus on flexibility and the workplace experience
Concern from business leaders about whether a flexible workforce can be adequately productive and collaborative will reduce, as technology drives a model that functions effectively. Focus will shift towards designing workspaces which actively help people to be more productive, using data analytics to create an ideal mix of personal, private and communal spaces for an improved workplace experience. Workplace experience apps like Comfy along with collaboration tools like Teams and OneDrive will further empower employees to interact with their office spaces, colleagues and customers, personalizing their workday to best fit their individual productivity needs. Apps will also help to bridge the gap between home and office and offer a centralized hub for relevant information and resources.
3. Rationalizing real estate with analytics
With better insights into the office space utilization, business and real estate leaders will be empowered to make data-driven decisions on rationalizing their portfolios. Real estate comes in just under payroll as the second-highest expense for businesses, and analytics provide corporate leaders with the rich, actionable data they need to ensure it is fit for purpose and efficiently used. From streamlining office space to making smarter decisions about heating, cooling, lighting and even cleaning, smarter workplaces will have a significant – and positive – effect on corporate balance sheets around the world.
How has your world of work changed? Let’s discuss, get in touch with me here.
To find out more about how Siemens is informing the future of smart office, visit here.