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Smart Workplace Solutions: Keeping the Office “Smart”

Though what we currently think of when we envision a smart building — a fully tech-enabled, supercomputer of the future — has only been around since the start of the 21st century, one could argue that concepts for building automation and smart workplace solutions date back to as early as the 17th century. 

During that time, a self-taught European mechanic named Cornelis Drebbel invented the mercury thermostat. Despite its small size, his invention had huge implications for current-day HVAC systems: it could automatically keep a space at a constant temperature, becoming one of the first feedback-controlled devices in history. Additionally, Drebbel went on to develop one of the first air conditioning systems by using salt as a cooling agent. Over time, these primitive innovations inspired others to create even more advanced systems — resulting in many of the building automation technologies that we see and use today.

Yet again, we now are at a point in history where building innovation has reached an exponential incline. The smart office — which uses technology to optimize building performance, communicate between various technology systems, and ease the everyday processes of building occupants — is constantly evolving.

Learn more about recent smart building trends and what makes an office “smart” below.

What is Smart Technology?

Smart technology serves many purposes and can incorporate automation, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and more. Petra.com summarizes smart technology as follows:

“The term ‘smart’ originally comes from the acronym “Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology” but become widely known as “smart” because of the notion of allowing previously inanimate objects — from cars to basketballs to clothes — to talk back to us and even guide our behavior.”

This means that, in general, smart office buildings are buildings that leverage technology to quickly disseminate information between building systems in order to optimize performance and create easy, seamless experiences for building occupants. Though there are many types of smart buildings, these tech-enabled meccas have one thing in common: they are desirable for tenants and visitors due to their modern and unique amenities, as well as their custom solutions for any need. With so many ways to achieve results, smart building features vary — there is truly no one-size-fits-all solution for how property teams can take advantage of the various smart building services to create efficiencies in the workplace and enhance the tenant experience.

When addressing the needs of a modern workforce, offices powered by workplace technology are likely to witness an even larger rise in popularity. Current-day concerns surrounding health and safety needs for the office are at the forefront of many conversations, such as needing better ventilation and air quality to reduce the spread of viruses. In today’s world, the importance of workplace technology also indicates a need for touchless office experiences that help building occupants avoid touching public surfaces. To achieve this, property teams can control all of a building’s features and experiences through smart technology software that is customizable and efficient.

Trending Types Of Smart Technology

According to MarketsandMarkets, “the smart buildings market […] size is expected to grow from USD 66.3 billion in 2020 to USD 108.9 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.5% during the forecast period. The major drivers for the smart building include the rising adoption of IoT-enabled building management systems, rising awareness of space utilization, increased industry standards and regulations, and increased demand for energy-efficient systems.”

Not only do the latest smart building statistics point to a significant increase in the adoption of smart building technologies, but they also point to specific trends driving this new wave of technological innovation. Clevair breaks down six smart technology examples for the year 2021, all of which can be applied to the office sector:

  1. Real-time Energy Monitoring: A major benefit of smart building solutions is their ability to streamline previously antiquated processes. This is no different for energy bills and other building footprint measurements. Modern building management software can not only give property teams access to energy data in real-time, but also help you define thresholds and predict forecasts for your building.
  2. HVAC Control: Manual HVAC systems in older buildings cannot adjust based on building occupancy. In today’s day and age, it’s important to incorporate smart sensors that can communicate with your HVAC system to provide real-time occupancy data as well as save you energy costs as it adjusts to your building occupants’ varying usage throughout the day.
  3. Air Quality Control: In the same way smart buildings can monitor and improve HVAC systems, they can also help with your building’s air quality. Sensors can help detect indoor environmental factors such as humidity and heat. They can also detect the presence of gasses such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen, to help increase or decrease clean airflow into particular rooms when needed without physical intervention.
  4. Energy Optimization: As suggested by the first smart building trend, smart buildings can also optimize energy usage across your building in a variety of ways. Systems such as HVAC, lighting, and more can turn on or off automatically depending on building occupancy, while also detecting underperforming hardware that needs to be replaced to further save energy.
  5. Remote Management: Since all of these features can basically automate themselves without the need of physical interference, smart buildings also indicate that these can all be operated remotely for any building. From lighting to building access, to HVAC, property teams can adjust any aspect of their building depending on specific needs.
  6. Building Software: Smart buildings surprisingly don’t require a lot of hardware — their software-centric nature means that property teams can convert even the oldest of buildings into a modern workplace if they so desire. These modern solutions are made to integrate with a building’s existing technology infrastructure, and also often run off of cloud-based platforms. A smart building using IoT or cloud technologies can help implement all of these solutions quickly and at scale.

Notable Smart Workplace Examples

This desire for office technology can mean a lot of different things, but a quick look at some of the most impressive smart workplace technology implementations unveils a model approach to a not-so-futuristic problem:

  • The Edge, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: The Edge is a 15-story office that is one of the smartest (and the greenest) buildings in the world. Through its building app, it can connect tenants to their work schedule, parking spot, desk, preferred lighting and temperature, and much more. Additionally, its usage of solar panels and internal building sensors for automation have earned it a 98.4% sustainability score.
  • Capital Tower, Singapore, Asia: The smart building capabilities of the Capital Tower helped it win the Green Mark Platinum Award. Its air conditioning system recovers cool air to maintain the longevity of the AC unit, and the windows are double-layered to optimize energy efficiency.
  • Watson IoT Headquarters, Munich, Germany: The Watson IoT Headquarters is a prominent example of the Internet of Things technology. It uses cognitive computing at scale, making sure the building and its environment are continually learning and improving to meet tenant needs. Additionally, its IoT implementations know who is seated where, adjusting ambient lighting and temperature to their individual preferences.
  • The Crystal, London, United Kingdom: The Crystal is an office building with over 3,500 data points that guarantee all systems are monitored and function property. Through its usage of natural resources instead of fossil fuels, it is also completely energy-efficient and CO2-efficient.

Accessing a Marketplace of Smart Technology Products

The recent modernization of the office has been home to a plethora of smart building ideas, which means every landlord and property team needs to have the right technology stack in place to remain competitive in commercial real estate’s evolving industry. Smart buildings of the future will require an easy-to-use remote control, consisting of a marketplace of technology partners and an end-to-end operating system that can ensure these varying technologies are all interoperable, scalable, and efficient. 

The HqOS™ operation system for tenant experience can not only accomplish these feats, but provides advanced data and analytics offerings to help property teams get ahead by leveraging meaningful data about their end-users — collected through the various technology activations in their buildings — to make more informed decisions. 

The growing HqOS Marketplace of best-in-class technology partners can help aggregate numerous smart office products for any building. Now, landlords and property teams can balance HqO’s built-in tools with trusted implementations to meet the demands of the modern workforce. HqO’s smart office software offerings fall under the following categories: 

  1. Access Control: Security is among the most notable smart building IoT solutions. Through access control capabilities, owners can enable tenants to gain access to their office buildings with just the tap of a phone.
  2. Emergency Communications: Another critical smart building solution is the ability to communicate critical safety information to building occupants in a quick and efficient manner.
  3. Order Ahead: A smart-enabled technology platform can increase safety and convenience for your tenants, such as integrating with local retailers to allow them to place orders ahead and reduce friction.
  4. Resource Booking: Smart building technologies have also made resource booking even more seamless. Smart building sensors coordinate with your existing software to assist in more efficient room booking management, from conference rooms to event spaces and everything in between, making organizing your day a seamless process.
  5. Service Booking: Technologies used in smart buildings can also be utilized to activate your building amenities. Tenants can take advantage of easy-to-book services, fitness classes, and more.
  6. Service Requests: Since smart buildings enhance a building’s efficiencies, the building and maintenance staff still plays an essential role. Enter service request solutions, where tenants can communicate with building managers for work orders, cleaning services, and more.
  7. Shuttle Tracking: Shuttle tracking technologies can help you understand your tenants’ commuting behaviors and determine the best-fit transit solutions for any property.
  8. Ticketing: Smart ticketing can help grant tenants access to key property experiences and partner services with scannable visuals. The process is quick, convenient, and contactless.
  9. Visitor Registration: Contactless visitor registration can also be easily integrated into a building through a smart building system. Speed up the visitor registration process while also ensuring modern safety and security protocols are met.

With HqO, owners and property teams all over the world can set the right smart workplace examples by leveraging technology partners to differentiate their assets and enhance their tenant experience strategies. To learn more about how HqO can help with all your smart building needs, schedule your free demo today. 

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