Smart offices in a post Covid-19 world

Smart offices and buildings - The return to the office in a post Covid-19 world

Whilst most of the world’s office-based workforce has adapted well to remote working, the general consensus seems to be that workers are looking forward to a return to the office, if not full time, certainly part time.  Our latest blog series will explore what these offices might look and feel like.  The world has changed since the pandemic hit and we were almost all asked to stay home.  Perhaps smart technology holds the key.

The ‘New Normal’ Office

Smart buildings are not new and we have covered the topic before.  The term has been in use for over 20 years, but the reality of what a ‘Smart Office’ means pre and post covid has changed.  IoT integrated tech in buildings is going from ‘nice to have’ to essential, and ‘hybrid working’ solutions like remote training and virtual reality conference calls will mean employees can carry out mission critical tasks without the need for physical office presence.  It is quite likely to become a requirement for landlords renting buildings or space to integrate some sort of occupancy monitoring system, in order to compete and keep up with demand/needs; smart offices will have the edge.

A global survey of 32,000 workers carried out by Steelcase (makers of furniture and designers of spaces) found that 95% of those working remotely would like to return to shared office spaces.  However, the survey also exposed many common areas of concern.  In particular, workers have heightened health and safety priorities;

73% are concerned with air quality

73% are keen to ensure safety protocols are adhered to

72% feel faculty cleanliness is of great importance

71% are worried about the practicalities of physical distancing and boundaries. 

We want to get back to the office, but we want to do it safely seems to be the underlying theme.  Covid-19 has not gone away and won’t for a long while yet.  To return to shared workspaces safely will require robust solutions like social distancing monitoring systems from our partners at iaconnects. There will be a bigger emphasis on safety, security and comfort, and smart technology will likely bridge the gap between the pre and post covid working environment.

There are practicalities to consider for when workers return; 

  • Occupancy limitations to maintain social distancing.
  • Hygiene - since the pandemic interrupted our lives, we have become used to far higher levels of sanitation, regular hand washing, sanitizer provisions.
  • Reducing touchpoints.
  • The office set up - how and where desks/work spaces are organised, traffic flow around buildings, ensuring required equipment is available (we now have a far greater need for quality webcams, headphones and microphones). 

What advantages do smart buildings offer?

Data - Within a smart building, you know who is inside, where they are, where they’ve been, how long for and how many people are inside in total. 

Reassurance - Landlords and employers can offer occupants peace of mind, using technology which ensures high levels of sanitation, safety and security. 

Comfort - Optimal light and temperature levels which can even be set according to individual needs. Adjustable desk heights.  Quality air.  Environments which are conducive to work, creativity and collaboration in a Covid safe manner.

Stay tuned for our next blog in the Smart Office series. We will discuss some of the emerging technology that is making offices across the world safer and smarter as employees prepare to return to work.

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