The traditional office has competition. The initial requirement that employees work from home has been followed by an acceptance that this is a good place to work. We have quickly realized that we do not need offices to be productive. In fact, people can be trusted to do their work from pretty much anywhere.
So what, then, is the purpose of the office in 2022?
There is now pressure for the office to attract people back and to offer competitive advantages compared to working from home. We now go to the office to communicate with our colleagues and be part of the company culture.
This, along with a shift in thinking around digital transformation and sustainability, are the main driving forces of what the workplace will look like in 2022.
Dovetailed with the changes in working habits are changes taking place in the office environment. Utilization and occupancy patterns are placing different pressures on real estate:
As a result, we are now seeing the advent of the Smart Office, a workplace that combines digitally-enabled services and solutions to enhance employee experience and efficiency, realize cost and energy savings, and add value to the building.
In an office space equipped with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, it is possible to measure, track, and control many facets of the office environment.
Typically, IoT devices contain sensors or detectors which can monitor, process, and transmit environmental data autonomously over the internet to a server.
Once collected, data can then be processed and appropriate actions, such as advertising that a meeting room is free, turning lights off after someone has left a room, or sending an SMS to notify that there is a water leak.
The information provided by IoT sensors can be used for:
For an introduction to the Internet of Things, head on over to our Beginner’s Guide to IoT
With the move to flexible working, the use of collaboration tools, and the increase in video conferencing, there is a much higher reliance on and expectation of network communications.
Whether it is between home and the office, office to office, or within a smart office itself, key communications trends will be:
Flexible workspaces are a must for 2022. With the mobility and location of workers changing considerably, it is essential that office space is designed with a focus on the employee. It has to be attractive, safe, and comfortable to encourage workers to return to the office.
Recent studies have confirmed that 70% of people are working from home at least once a week and, according to Gartner, 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic.
The move to hybrid working is going to have a major impact on the amount of real estate space that is required and the way that it is going to be used.
Sensors can be used to automatically monitor, collect, and transmit data that previously had to be collected by a human, saving both money and time by allowing employees to work on other, more productive, activities.
Automated tasks include:
Post pandemic, the most critical trend is for hybrid working, with the majority of workers sharing time between home, the office, or another internet-connected site.
Having an occupant-friendly environment will therefore be critical for most organizations to ensure that workers want to return to an office to work.
It will be essential that companies understand the utilization/occupancy of their offices, desks, and meeting rooms to minimize employee frustration with the unavailability of resources whilst maximizing the use of expensive real estate.
Temperature sensors can be used to collect real-time information about human presence in a meeting room, with an increase in temperature indicating presence whilst proximity sensors can be used to determine when someone is sitting at a desk.
A smart app can process the data and provide the up-to-date status of any specific location, helping maximize utilization, whilst reducing employee stress.
With increased awareness and importance placed upon climate change and climate-related issues, as highlighted during the recent COP26 conference, the move towards sustainable office buildings is increasing.
People are now demanding that the places they work in are efficient and environmentally friendly.
Offices will embrace technology and smart working to be more sustainable by:
The phrase “healthy” building is a term that is starting to be adopted in corporate life and is used to cover the physical, psychological, and social health and well-being of people in buildings and the built environment.
The key foundations of a healthy building are widely agreed to cover ventilation, air quality, thermal health, moisture, dust and pests, safety and security, water quality, noise, and lighting and views. By addressing these issues it is believed that a healthy building can attract employees, help reduce absenteeism, and improve individual and organizational performance.
Technology can be used to make a building “healthier” by:
The digital transformation of our offices, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, is well under-way and will accelerate in 2022. The purpose of the office is now to safeguard people’s health and well-being, and provide optimized and comfortable working conditions.
People feel more comfortable when they have information about the environment that they are living and working in. The use of smart technology will thus help towards creating a digital conversation between the office environment and everyone that walks through the building.
2022 will see companies using these technologies to further improve the office environment, making it more sustainable by reducing its energy consumption, saving the company money through efficient resource use, and ensuring that employee welfare and wellbeing are at the heart of the business going forward.
In this way, the office can have a leg up to working from home and continue to be the center of team collaboration and creativity.
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