The pandemic has compelled millions of workers to work from home, converting many offices into ghost spaces. Yet with the virus receding, the question of returning to work is rearing its hopeful head.
Pandemic-induced remote working arrangements have shed light on several opportunities for businesses to relook at how they run offices. Skyrocketing rent, increasing energy costs, steep internet bills, and car parking limitations are just some of the challenges companies have to overcome in today’s corporate landscape. Remote working helps alleviate many of these, but the picture is far from rosy. While research supports working from home, it also shows that employees and employers are valuing office-based work: PWC’s US Remote Work Survey (2021) revealed that for 87% of employees the office is important for collaborating with team members and building relationships.
Going forward, offices will be smaller and smarter. Companies will opt for office spaces that accommodate half or less of their workforce, and hot seats will become the only seats available. However, the real transformation is the emergence of Post-Pandemic Smart Offices – workspaces that use technology to improve productivity, with the added emphasis of ensuring safety, well-being, and social distancing of its workers.
This inevitable trend is already taking shape, with future-focused companies already investing in smart offices. Gartner (2020) predicted that by 2022, 60% of hybrid workers will prioritize a wellness-equipped smart office over a remote office. The smart office market, which was valued at USD 33.53 billion in 2020 is expected to reach USD 67.69 billion by 2026, driven by the rise in demand for intelligent office solutions, energy efficiency infrastructure, IoT, and safety at the workplace.
For MIT ESP (MillenniumIT ESP), smart offices are the next step of the natural progression of workspaces. We are already designing smart building solutions for companies looking at future-proofing their operations.
Smart offices are the ideal solution to ensure employees’ health, safety and wellbeing. These wellness-centric offices will enable the seamless ‘reservation’ of workstations from a simple mobile app that employees can use as their workspace remote control. This same app can be integrated to your building management system to reserve rooms, schedule meetings, allocate parking slots and book hardware like scanners. With motion and heat sensors in place, employees will know peak and off-peak times to avoid crowds or come to work with their team members. Thanks to IoT-enabled monitoring, their apps will also remind them to maintain social distance in crowded spaces.
The smart office concept will also enable companies to use GPS signals to geolocate employees. In the case of an infection, the company will be able to use the data to track immediate contacts and notify them.
Companies can opt for various work models such as the Clubhouse concept where employees meet, socialize and collaborate at the office and return home to work, or Activity-based working where employees come to work but don’t have designated spaces. In addition, companies can also operate co-working spaces to convert idle workstations into revenue-generating real estate.
Embracing the smart office concept translates into cost optimization since companies are able to manage air conditioning, lighting, shading, access control, and security (to name a few) via IoT-enabled infrastructure, all seamlessly connected to an integrated building management platform. This use-only-what-you-want concept is simple to implement and manage from a single control center, while saving cost.
Working can be made completely contactless using near-field communications instead of key cards to give employees access to the building, meeting rooms and even when purchasing food from the office canteen. With the entire building management system, including employees’ emails, connected to a simple mobile app, communications will be seamless, effective, and real-time.
Corporates opting for smart office spaces reduce their environmental footprint much more effectively than those that run traditional offices. With reduced energy usage, companies will effortlessly kickstart their carbon-neutral journey thanks to IOT sensors that automatically switch on and off air-conditioning units, lights and other equipment.
In addition to making office spaces safer and more efficient, smart offices will also enhance employee experiences like never before. Booking workstations near team members, adjusting lighting and heating according to personal preference, unlocking personal lockers, and connecting phone lines as you take your seat, and even arranging your personal photos in your digital desk photo frames are all possible, to ensure that employees have a great reason to come to work.
MIT ESP believes that smart offices are here to stay. Having implemented Smart Building solutions for a range of clients, including integrated mixed use development projects in Sri Lanka to prestigious hospitality solution providers in the Maldives to name a few, we have the expertise, skills and technology to make any building a ‘smart’ building. MIT ESP is offering Smart Building solutions that integrate all modern IP-based ELV systems to corporate clients, hospitality providers, residential units, and anyone looking at embracing the future of spaces.
With the ability to tailor-make smart building solutions that cater to its clients’ unique and discerning needs, MIT ESP is ready to help corporates create healthy co-working spaces to convert offices into corporate real estate that supports a company’s wellness objectives whilst empowering employees, optimizing costs and enabling sustainability.