When is the last time your office got an upgrade? Are you still using outdated technology? With the developing demand for improved technology, there are now more tools, systems, and solutions than ever to turn your office smart. Evaluating the need for office transformations is an important part of the process because you don’t want to overdo it where it’s not necessary. Consider the needs of your employees and the office before making any decisions. Take a look at some of your options for upgrading the office with this guide from Office360°.
Digital Voice Assistants
We all know about digital voice assistants by now (Google Home, Alexa, Echo Dot, etc.). These can be great tools to get quick answers to questions, reminders for meetings or deadlines, hands-free calling, or sending messages to coworkers in a hurry when your hands are busy. Virtual assistants can be used to increase productivity in the office, at desks, meeting rooms, or on the go. The efficiency, convenience, motivation, and other benefits they can provide might constitute the need for them in the workplace. Virtual assistants are essentially a speaker that is “always listening”, so getting your IT team or security experts involved may be a smart idea to ensure the system is secure. All new technology comes with risks of their own regarding security and privacy, so experimenting with them will take some planning and preparation.
Team Communication and Collaboration Tools
Many companies rely on email and phone calls to communicate, but there are so many other channels of communication out there. Using email can sometimes limit the amount and quality of messages that could be portrayed in new team communication and collaboration tools.
Organizing priorities into groups and collaborating with the correct people can be made easy with apps like slack. It can be downloaded onto your phone, your taskbar, or simply opened on your web browser. Being able to see when your coworkers are online enables you to have a more effective and quicker conversation. The communication within this app is effortless with file sharing, one-button search, and access from anywhere. The option to provide personalization to messages makes your conversations feel more personable and makes going back and forth easier. Some other collaboration tools you can use are Google Hangouts, Cisco Spark, Workzone, or Workplace by Facebook. There are a ton of collaboration tools out there, it just depends on your team’s preferences.
Smart Energy Solutions
Energy usage within any size corporation or business can accrue some hefty bills. It’s smart to think about these extra costs and evaluate how to save money any way you can along with reducing your carbon footprint. Some smart energy solutions to think about are:
- Smart HVAC system
- A system that has automated controls and advanced equipment that automatically regulate the temperature to match preferences and usage patterns. The technology enhancements in smart HVAC systems help them operate more efficiently than traditional systems. These systems can even use company calendars and weather forecasts to control the temperature in the most efficient way possible so everyone in the office is comfortable.
- IoT Sensors
- These devices use technology to collect data on occupancy and usage by your office, which gives insight for implementing your technology strategy. You can use IoT systems and other sensing technologies to control things like lighting, the environment, and other energy-consuming systems. When you link these two together, you can ensure that energy is not being used when unnecessary.
- Smart Lighting
- Motion sensor lights
- LED lights
Managing Office Supplies
Nothing is worse than going to the printer only to realize you’re out of ink or going to staple those papers together and realizing you’re out of staples. Managing office supplies appropriately will save time and minimize negative consequences.
It can be hard to keep up with all the little things like how many paper clips you have left or staples for the stapler, but with smart office technology, this is a worry of the past. Office Supplies Inventory Management Software is a useful smart office tool to save time and money while avoiding missing deadlines because of supply shortages. Automated systems can even detect when your ink on your printer is running low and order more without you having to lift a finger. These systems save you money by ordering supplies that you need to avoid overstocking.
Office Layout and Design
The workplace has evolved in many ways over the years. Design and layout have become more modernized and ergonomics has played a part in what people look for in an office. Lighting, seating, volume, temperature, design, etc. all play a role in a happy workplace now. Some smart office design and layout elements are:
- Sit-Stand Desks
- Being at a desk all day doesn’t mean you have to be sitting the whole time anymore. Sit-stand desks are on the rise in the workplace, providing employees with an opportunity to live a more active lifestyle from the comfort of their desks. These desks can help improve posture and productivity because you can move around and get your blood flowing while at your desk. Rather than sitting down hunched over all day, you can stand up at your desk and view your computer at eye-level with no strain.
- Having an open-concept office space allows you to maximize your space. An open-concept office can also help save money on things like energy usage because you don’t have to use as much space. A lot of space in offices is wasted by spreading out desks far apart and rooms that aren’t being used. If you utilize your space appropriately, your employees will be comfortable and your pockets will be happier.
- The new ideal office setup involves unique and stylish privacy-friendly workstations within an open space that allows individuals to collaborate when needed and focus when necessary. The preferred layout is minimalistic, comfortable, and ergonomic focused. Many offices have quiet spaces, homey areas to relax along with collaborative meeting rooms, and dynamic/agile spaces.
- Natural Lighting
- Lighting is huge in setting the mood for the workday. Making sure there is natural lighting will increase the happiness seen in the workplace. This will also save money on having to light the entire office, or at least not having to use as many lights.
Creating a smart office can seem intimidating, but after evaluating the needs of your space and employees it will be clear what is necessary. You don’t have to jump into all changes at the same time, but your office must be developing with the technological world. Technology will continue to improve and the workplace will evolve even more, so you have to prepare for that in your business plan. Make time to evaluate your companies’ technology and design initiatives and use this list as a basic guide to help you.