2023 Trends: Optimizing Office Space With Smart Technology

Erin McDannald of Environments shares how smart technology, utilized in a few key ways, can positively transform the future of work.

– Stay tuned as we share more 2023 trends for the entire month of December & beyond –

smart technology

In this new era of the workplace, it’s up to business leaders to determine how to move forward and optimize their physical office space. Employees depend on them to ensure balance and wellness and create a worthwhile experience for in-person work. Tools such as IoT-enabled building technology and metaverse environments provide these insights while equipping leaders to create a workspace optimized for collaboration and productivity.

Managing a building involves dozens of dashboards and interfaces, each separated from the next. In the past, the incompatibility between different software and hardware developers and manufacturers has limited the efficiency and convenience of smart building design. Integrating the controls of separate components in one building, including lighting, temperature control, and communications have been a challenge. With the future of the workplace closer than anyone could have imagined, it’s up to commercial developers and facility managers to equip their buildings with the proper tools to help tenants make the most of their investment.

With combined commitment from facility managers and business leaders, smart technology, utilized in a few key ways, can positively transform the future of work.

Heat Mapping to Measure Occupancy

One of the most apparent benefits of heat mapping in offices is energy efficiency. By understanding where people congregate, leaders can identify areas where they may save energy by installing more efficient heating, cooling, and lighting systems. This technology also allows employees to understand better which spaces are in use and how full the office is at a given time, helping them make appropriate scheduling decisions.

With information from heat mapping technology, business leaders can efficiently understand which sections of the office are being severely underutilized.

Looking to the future, offices can use heat mapping for even more benefit. With information from heat mapping technology, business leaders can efficiently understand which sections of the office are being severely underutilized. If a whole section of the office hasn’t been in use for several months, this would indicate that the organization can either downsize or invest that area into another function like storage or a wellness center, the latter of which is becoming increasingly important and popular in offices today.

Maintaining Air Quality

Air quality is one of the most under-appreciated aspects of our daily lives. When air quality is good, it goes unnoticed, but when it is poor, it can cause many issues. While in the office, if humidity isn’t ranging from 20 to 60 percent with temperatures in the 68- to 76-degree range, it can cause employee discomfort. Beyond staff and occupant comfort and wellness, there are many business-wide benefits to understanding your space’s air quality levels.

Office air that is too dry can cause electrical shortages, wreaking havoc on expensive computer systems. If it’s too wet, there is a risk of mold. Studies show that humidity levels between 40 to 60 percent prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the spread of cold and flu viruses. With a robust IoT infrastructure, companies can track the air quality in their offices remotely, and by using sensors, office and building owners can measure the air quality within those spaces using their smartphones.

…Having too much CO2 creates brain fog, thus negatively affecting productivity, wellness, and happiness.

It’s also vital that business leaders put systems in place to monitor CO2 levels. While many offices don’t have monitoring mechanisms in place, having too much CO2 creates brain fog, thus negatively affecting productivity, wellness, and happiness. Having sensors in place helps maintain optimum CO2 levels by connecting occupancy data and climate controls. As building occupancy increases, an IoT-enabled system can open vents and run fans to introduce fresh air. A smart building system understands that when X number of people are present in the office, the space will reach its CO2 threshold and can automatically adjust before a problem arises.

Digital Twin Hybridization

Big names in tech talk about the metaverse and digital twins as mystical, abstract things the public has yet to understand fully. Fortunately, the metaverse is much simpler than people may realize and directly benefits the future of how we work and utilize our offices. By developing a digital replica of an office, employees can interact with the space, attend meetings, and collaborate from wherever they may be working. Employees can enjoy all the rich engagement of the in-person office experience from anywhere: attend and offer experiential presentations, stroll through the office enjoying casual conversations, get real-time access to settings and controls within our physical space, host guests, visit coworkers for pop-in interactions, spend time with teammates, play games, and collaborate on projects.

Someone in the physical world can walk up to this portal and speak to their remote colleague as if they were standing right next to each other.

Digital twin and metaverse technology also optimize the office experience for those working in person. Over the next few years, many companies will be incorporating smart mirrors in offices to act as a direct portal to the metaverse. Someone in the physical world can walk up to this portal and speak to their remote colleague as if they were standing right next to each other.

While incorporating smart technology into an office space isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, companies should take stock of their situation and identify what components work best for their team. IoT frameworks, digital twins, and metaverse environments are great tools for building a richly capable work environment, boosting communication, inclusion, wellness and comfort, efficiency, and overall growth.

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