7 Smart Office Trends For 2022

7 Smart Office Trends For 2022

Megi Hamza
17. Nov 2021 | 11 min read

7 Smart Office Trends For 2022

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.

7 Smart Office Trends (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: 

  • Is all office space required?
  • Is office space being used optimally?
  • Are traditional office services needed?
  • Is the environment friendly and attractive enough to make people want to return?

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.

#1 - Use of Internet of Things (IoT) Technology

technology office

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:

  • optimizing the design of the office through learning employee working habits
  • providing a pleasant and comfortable office environment through temperature and ambient condition monitoring
  • reducing energy consumption by optimizing the heating, air conditioning, lighting, cleaning, and other areas of operation
  • supporting the health and wellbeing of employees through environmental monitoring, water monitoring, more efficient cleaning etc.


For an introduction to the Internet of Things, head on over to our Beginner’s Guide to IoT

#2 - Advanced Communications

communication skype

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:

  • increased deployment of business-grade fiber to access the internet, as this offers higher bandwidth, improved security, and flexibility
  • higher adoption of 5G technology as service providers increase their geographical coverage. This is particularly important for remote locations where 5G will offer higher-speed connections and greater reliability compared to older solutions.
  • further expansion of IP-based telephone systems and collaboration tools

#3 - Flexible Workspaces

co working space

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.

#4 - Automation

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:

  • temperature monitoring of locations, rooms, machinery, pipes, and so on with automatic alerts being sent when anomalies or out of range temperatures are detected
  • monitoring of desk occupancy to determine how much free space is available
  • location monitoring, so that optimal cleaning schedules are applied only to workspaces that have been used
  • leak detection so that Facilities Management can receive advanced warnings of water leaks before they become critical
  • optimal meeting room usage by monitoring occupancy to identify if meetings actually take place or if they finish early. This data can be fed into the room booking system to provide the near real-time status of usage and availability
  • security improvement by tracking when doors or windows are open and closed, which can enable to send a message to security whenever there are any breaches.

#5 - Office Occupancy Detection

occupancy people office

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.

#6 - Building Sustainability

green building

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:

  • effectively managing energy usage and increasing energy efficiency as it is estimated that approximately 35% of building energy is wasted. Analysis of data collected from temperature sensors can be used to identify:
    • old and inefficient windows that should be replaced
    • highly inefficient heat pumps
    • problems with building insulation
    • where effective thermostats can be deployed for temperature management
    • locations where smart lighting would be beneficial
  • reducing CO2 emissions - it is estimated that approximately 40% of CO2 emissions come from building emissions. Any energy reduction, as highlighted above, has an important, associated, CO2 reduction. 
  • reducing resources - real-time data about water temperature is critical for controlling  Legionella, a water-borne bacterium that causes Legionnaire's disease, a lethal respiratory illness. The bacteria grows in stagnant water. By monitoring water temperature over a period of time, building and facilities managers can easily identify which taps, if any, require flushing, rather than the traditional approach of flushing all pipes.
  • controlling cleaning schedules - sensors can track how frequently restrooms, desks, and meeting rooms are used to determine when cleaning is needed, making more optimal use of cleaning personnel and providing accurate data about cleaning contracts.

#7 - Healthy Buildings

man with laptop

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:

  • ensuring health and safety regulations are followed and standards maintained. Examples include:
    • Legionella compliance, using temperature sensors, to identifying any pipes where water has remained stagnant and need to be flushed
    • controlling CO2 levels in a room by using temperature and CO2 sensors to determine when the room is being used. When in use, ventilators can be activated to improve air quality. The system can be switched off when the room is unoccupied.
  • employee wellbeing through an effective hybrid working environment
  • ambient temperature control in an office using temperature sensors
  • lighting control for when human presence is identified or not
  • humidity monitoring

Summary

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.

Megi Hamza

Megi Hamza

Meg is the Digital Marketer at Disruptive Technologies. She holds a Master of Science degree in Strategic Marketing Management from BI Norwegian Business School. A Marketing and tech nerd, she spreads digital awareness about how to achieve more sustainable and efficient building operations with the world's smallest wireless sensors. Outside of being an IoT enthusiast, Meg enjoys painting, cinema, and the outdoors.

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