Smart offices and the technology involved

The Hybrid Work Environment - Smart offices and the technology involved

This is the second blog in our Smart Office series. Last time we touched on the idea of ‘hybrid’ work models, and how IoT-enabled building automation solutions will make it easier and safer for employees returning to work. We also shared some key statistics recently published by Steelcase, which found that 95% of those working remotely would like to return to shared office spaces.  However, this is not without concerns over health and safety. We’ve taken a closer look at some of the technologies that are enabling offices to open back-up in Covid secure way.

Traditionally, offices have been set up around 80% individual work stations and 20% collaborative areas.  This is likely to swing quite vastly in the opposite direction as we return to the office.  Technology which allows us to transition seamlessly between the office or home is imperative. We are entering the age of the ‘hybrid work environment’.

Lenovo noted that since workers were sent home, they have seen a great increase in interest in improved cameras, microphones and speakers in their hardware.  Incredible wireless earbuds were a huge draw at CES 2021 and undoubtedly, these will allow for much better quality video calls, better connecting colleagues wherever they are. 

In the long term, AR (Augmented Reality) Glasses could well be one of the greatest changes we see in our working environments.  With these glasses and your laptop, you can set up a multi-monitor setup wherever you are.  Portability isn’t the only benefit, security and privacy is increased, the only person who can see the ‘screens’ is the wearer.

Occupancy monitoring is managed with ease thanks to data collected from sensors; footfall counting, capacity warnings, this information allows those monitoring numbers to keep things in check.  Connected sensors allow for predictive maintenance schedules and early warning signals for when extra cleaning is required, and sensors on toilet and washroom doors report on usage.  

Specific tech in focus - aiding social distancing and hygiene

As previously mentioned, managing social distancing is of the utmost importance.  There will be different options available which will cover most use cases.  

Claitec have created T-10RSD, a proximity monitoring solution.  They offer two types of device;

The T-10RSD Tag - attached to clothing and with a long battery life, this device uses RFID (Radio-frequency Identification) and helps the user keep a safety perimeter of 2 metres. 

The T-10RSD Badge - an adaption of the tag, it acts as a cardholder and a safety tag, useful for streamlining hardware, the user has a sensor and ID cardholder in one.

When another person carrying a tag enters a 4 metre safety perimeter, an orange warning light illuminates.  If they come closer than 2 metres, the tag beeps and a red light comes on.  These distances can be adjusted.

Network Rail, an employer who have had to continue to deploy staff away from home during the pandemic, have created an app called ‘Mind The Gap’.  Using Bluetooth to detect other nearby devices, the app uses the time of flight of ultrasound between devices to calculate distance.  An alert is sent when a coworker is too close (distances are adjustable) removing the uncomfortable task of having to ask a colleague to move! 

Water coolers - this might seem a little out of place, but, on reflection, what workplace would be complete without a water cooler?  UK Company The Well Water believes that water coolers have long been in need of improvement and will soon be bringing the ‘iCooler’ to market. Partnering with Nordic Semiconductor and Arkessa to access a secure, robust low-power cellular connectivity solution for its “revolutionary” new kind of cloud-connected water cooler, it has the ability to report on stock levels, and maintenance requirements.  A much improved way of providing water for staff, rather than over or under ordering stock, or having to wait days for the repair of a broken cooler.  A definite boon for improving comfort when welcoming employees back to the workplace.

At Arkessa, there is no doubt in our minds that smart buildings will ease the readjustment to office life and, and as world leaders in connectivity, we are always happy to discuss your requirements.

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