Technology for your workplace, where to begin?
It seems like every time you log on to Twitter, check your go-to news source, or open your inbox, a new type of workplace technology is making headlines. Smart offices, sensors, and virtual desktop infrastructure—to name a few—are permeating offices everywhere.
It’s tempting to fixate on the bright and shiny technology that is becoming more normalized in today’s workplace. But if it doesn’t make sense from a cultural, budget, or functionality perspective, then it’s likely not going to work.
This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with wanting to incorporate new technology into your office, but a few bases need to be covered first.
Understanding your current workplace technology
Despite the growing number of technological advancements making waves in offices of all industries and sizes, it’s important to consider what actually drives results. To see any real positive change at the hands of technology, you have to implement what makes sense for your company—not just because it’s trending.
Before you start introducing new technology into your workplace and getting the proper sign-off from management, start with an audit for your existing systems. An audit of your workplace technology serves as a starting point that can help you determine if you’re missing any essential tech or if there is room for improvement with your current systems.
When auditing your tech, think about these questions:
Make a list of all of the technology in your office
What is being used and why (is there tech being used for something other than it was designed for? Is there a better way?)
Is there an area of the company that appears disjointed that could benefit from added technology?
Does your workplace have problems that could be solved with new technology?
Is it cost-effective?
Would this technology be easy to weave into your company culture and work habits?
What lessons can be learned from previous technology implementations?
Once you have a better understanding of what you’re working with and how it all fits together, you can pinpoint what is feasible for your office.
New technology in the workplace
As we mentioned above, there are countless new gadgets, apps, and devices that are growing increasingly popular among workplaces all over the world. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular technology that’s making its way into an office near you.
Virtual Reality (VR)
There’s no question that VR is an incredible technology that is changing the way people work — especially facilities managers (how amazing would it be to virtually walk through an office space?).
That said, few companies actually have a big enough need for VR to warrant a full integration, and there may be more straightforward and most cost-effective solutions for what you need.
Before jumping on the VR train, consider how your office would use it and why. For example, if you’d like to use it to reduce office distractions think about testing the effectiveness of movable walls or designated quiet spaces throughout the office. This may be a more cost-effective solution, not to mention an easier one to introduce.
Sensors or smart buildings
Sensors are an innovative technology designed to make companies as efficient as possible. With a sensor system, you can automate everything from your lighting and temperature controls to office cleaning schedules.
This technology does more than automate controls though—it can help improve how employees use office space and as a result, increase their productivity. By analyzing work patterns like what teams meet most often and where, sensors can help streamline moves or improve collaboration altogether.
Sensors offer great efficiency management, but they may not make sense for all offices. Companies managing multiple office locations or floors with large numbers of employees may find this technology to be more beneficial than smaller companies working out of smaller spaces.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
There’s no question that AI is changing workplaces all over.
Like sensors, AI can help facilities managers make informed decisions regarding efficiency and employee management. With AI, facilities managers can have a pulse on what’s going on around the office, allowing them to move on to other pressing tasks they otherwise wouldn’t have much time to dedicate to.
Nevertheless, to fully benefit from AI, offices need to have a specific technology in place to see any return. If your office doesn’t have the existing technology that would be heightened by AI, the result may be disjointed instead of streamlined.
These technological advancements are nothing short of impressive. However, if your company hasn’t adopted some of the more well-established technology (like project management systems, employee communication tools, and cloud technology), trying to integrate one of these technologies would be like putting the cart before the horse.
After all, these technologies are becoming more advanced by the day. Not to mention they aren’t typically cheap or straightforward to implement.
Start with high impact/low effort technology
This isn’t to say that every office can’t have the latest and greatest technology. But having key technology in place first will not only enable devices like sensors and VR goggles to work better, but it’ll help verify if they are even needed to begin with.
So where do you start? Let’s dive into a few essential technologies that will help pave the way for more advanced technology later down the road.
Chairs break. A/C systems falter. Computers need fixing. Offices experience wear and tear, and when certain things need fixing, having a simplified method to manage and make requests can have a huge impact.
Refining how employees make requests not only ensures the request is seen, but that the right department recognizes it from the start. Think about implementing a request management system that makes it easy for employees to submit requests from any device at any time.
Making it effortless for employees to submit requests to the right department paves the way for efficiency and timeliness.
Keeping it simple is the name of the game for room booking solutions. Make employees lives easier (and less stressful) by integrating a Room booking solution into your IWMS.
Take a look at how your employees are currently booking rooms and identify any pain points or areas in need of improvement. Does it make sense to introduce hardware outside every meeting room? Or will your team more be likely to adopt a mobile app based solution?
If your current system needs an overhaul, there are plenty of options to choose from. Select something sophisticated, if your company is tech-savvy, like a sensor system that will ensure your room availability is always up-to-date, or keep things simple with a platform that integrates with your office email, calendar system, and IWMS.
Before choosing a new room booking solution, consider what would be easiest to put into practice based on employee behavior, habits, and needs. Keeping those things top-of-mind when searching for a new system will ensure this technology gets used and is advantageous to employees.
Desk booking gives employees the ultimate flexibility. From boosting productivity to making it possible for employees to work where and when they need, this technology is definitely one to consider. With desk booking software, employees can change up their workspace scenery any time they need—whether they need to work closer to other team members or if they want to shut out office distractions.
At the same time, using the right desk booking software can make or break the experience with this technology. The right desk booking software should make it easy for employees to find and book available desks, integrate with your IWMS, and help facilities managers understand booking patterns and monitor adoption rates.
By implementing technology like this first, your workplace will see tangible improvements without having to invest in a ton of hardware, infrastructure or IT time costs.
Work from the ground up
As a facilities manager, it’s essential to analyze the purpose of each technology you are interested in adding to your workplace and think about if it makes sense for your company and employees.
Instead of racing to have the most innovative, “smart” office, it’s important to take a step back and determine if each new piece of technology is something your employees are going to benefit from and use. Too much technology that doesn’t fit into the existing flow of a workplace, or if your company isn’t technologically-minded, can have a negative impact on employee well-being. Not to mention unused tech is money out the door with little return.
Before you begin adding new technology to your office, take a look at what you currently use and see if it can be optimized or improved. There could be ways to configure your current systems to meet your needs without having to onboard employees for additional technology. Also, be sure to only work with well-established providers that have a history of substantial development and integrate completely with 3rd party vendors, apps, and software.
If you’re looking to make technology improvements to your workplace, the options we discussed are a great starting point. Figure out what will make the most significant impact and have the lowest risk.
Ready to change the way you manage your office space for good? We can help.