You may not want to go as far as microchipping employees or issuing them Segways to zip around the office, but there are a lot of relatively new gadgets and AI-driven tools that can make your workplace smarter. Embracing new technologies can help you attract talented millennial and Gen Z workers and give you a better return on investment for your marketing and sales efforts.
A smart office needs to grow with the needs of the company and its employees. Smart office tech can help employees accomplish their work more quickly and accurately — but also, a welcome, open environment can make time in the office less onerous.
Even better, the new technology that supports flexible work hours and remote connectivity can expand the walls of the workplace to include places employees feel most comfortable working (home, coffeehouse, co-working space, etc.).
A Harvard Business Review analysis in support of shared workspaces explains how workers who have more autonomy feel that their work is more meaningful. By utilizing smart office technology, employers can combine accountability and worker freedom in a modern, efficient office space. This gives employees and employers more room to negotiate flexible working schedules that include face time in an inviting office space.
3 Ways to Make Your Office Smarter
Here are three ideas to modernize your workplace and help keep employees engaged and productive.
1. Standing desks have gained popularity over the past five years. Alternating between standing and sitting helps workers stay alert and is much healthier than sitting all day.
Now, smart desks use IoT to remind employees when it’s time to stand or walk around a bit. Companies can even gamify the concept, allowing employees to compete for which departments engage in the healthiest practices. Smart sitting/ standing desks also a great configuration for shared workspaces.
2. Smart technology is changing the board room and conferencing rooms of many corporations. The new technology goes beyond video conferencing and PowerPoint projectors. Big-screen TVs replace screens and old-fashioned projectors that can burn out.
Companies like Apple TV and Chromecast are making it fast and easy for participants and guests to connect to the same PowerPoint presentations. Applications like Zoom make video conferences as simple as entering a user name and a code. And virtual reality technology allows equipped users from all over the world to join conferences anywhere.
3. Voice-enabled technology can help workers improve performance with voice-to-text assistance that dramatically reduces the amount of typing required to find and open files, send messages, and write specifications and other projects.
What workers want
When asked for feedback, many employees choose updates that promote personal well-being. such as the following innovations:
- Self-adjusting lighting, including window shades
- Personalized heat and light settings to end the thermostat wars
- Circadian lighting that mimics natural daylight
- Adaptable heat and lighting systems that adjust to weather and occupancy
- Open spaces and flexible work areas. Employees want to get out of dehumanizing and unproductive cubicle farms, a throwback to a hierarchical office structure and stifling oversight. Open floor plans instead foster a spirit of collaboration and innovation. Also, putting managers inaccessible spaces removes barriers for employees who wish to express ideas and communicate more openly.
- Variable work areas, which enhance employees’ opportunities to stay mobile. That might mean conference-room configurations that support collaboration, or shared workstations that allow remote employees to put in face time at the office.
- Employees no longer wish to the tied to a single desk. Millennials and Generation Z workers expect to be able to move around. Great concepts proven to work include the addition of cafe-style tables, sofas, and outdoor courtyards with access to the wireless network. Sometimes, a change of scene spurs more creative thinking, so a variety of work areas should be on offer, including quieter spaces for employees who prefer them.
Apps that make life easier
The newest groups of workers to populate the workplace, millennials and Generation Z grew up in the digital age. They use apps to conduct their personal affairs and are pushing for similar opportunities at work. This is changing the way things are done inside and outside the office.
Millennial and Gen Z workers seek technological solutions to every problem, from calculating taxes on their smartphones to ordering groceries online. To appeal to these tech-savvy generations — and make daily task fulfillment easier for all your employees — find and offer apps that help them communicate seamlessly and get their work done.
Social media and the workplace
Social media has become essential for most people and companies, so it only makes sense to make sure your business is visible online. Customers regularly vet companies online via review sites such as Yelp! and the Better Business Bureau.
Customers and vendors who don’t find your company on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter may question the validity of your place in your industry. And prospective employees also want to be able to look your company up online via employee reviews and other benchmarks to decide if your open position is a good fit for them.
Still not convinced of the importance of an online presence? Here are the highlights of a recent survey that affirms the importance of social media.
- 1 in 5 Americans surveyed would rather live without air conditioning (21.5%) or sex (20.2%) than forego social media for a year.
- More than half (51%) would give up coffee for a year in favor of keeping their social media accounts.
Clearly, the stakes are high to develop a smart workplace that mirrors the experiences employees enjoy outside the office. Employers that fail to adapt may see their workforce leaving to work for companies that stay on top of technology to make work more pleasant and productive.
By Laura Gayle, Business Woman Guide