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How Smart Solutions Address Changing Employee Expectations for the Office

May 2022
Digital Buildings Enterprise

Since the beginning of the Great Resignation in early 2021, unprecedented numbers of employees have been leaving their jobsfor reasons such aswage stagnation amid rising the cost of living, long-lasting job dissatisfaction, safety concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the desire to work for companies with better remote-working policies.

Organizations recognize that the war for talent is real, and have come to realize that while many employees have missed face-to-face interaction, they also value the flexibility that working from home enables. These employees don’t want to commute to the office only to join video calls from their desk. Instead, they want the opportunity to connect and collaborate with co-workers in ways they can’t when working remotely.

As a result, savvy commercial real estate developers and managers have been busy reimagining the role of the office as a driver of a best-in-class employee experience, and what changes need to be made to support employee physical, mental, and social health.

And when in the office, they expect many of the same comforts they have at home, including a comfortable, intimate, and warmly lit environment. Leading organizations understand this, and have already been doubling down on their efforts to create ‘smart office’ experiences.

Defining the Smart Office Building

A smart office is a high-tech workplace designed to improve the comfort and functionality of the overall office space. These offices make extensive use of internet-connected devices, such as sensors, which provide the intelligence that CRE leaders need to continuously enhance the employee experience. The Internet of Things (IoT) lies at the heart of it all, with smart devices gathering data and feeding that data into analytics engines that provide insights into everything from environmental factors to how individual spaces are used. The advantages of having a digitally enabled office building are improved employee health, productivity and morale.

Here are some examples of a smart office technology in action:

  • IoT sensors can detect motion and occupancy levels, making it easy to program any connected devices to turn off or enter power-saving modes when no one is present in the space.
  • Automated door locks can enhance the security of offices, while providing convenience to your employees and enhancing safety with hands-free keyless entry.
  • Connected scheduling systems can streamline office space usage to keep employees informed about which conference rooms, desks, and other facilities are available or occupied.
  • Office wayfinding and mapping solutions use internet-connected sensors and digital signage to enhance office management and facilitate navigation in larger premises.
  • Digital building management systems (BMS) offer a centralized web-based dashboard allowing managers to track building use and performance and even troubleshoot issues from afar.

The smart office building is an evolution of the building automation systems that came before it. Rather than just automating routine functions, such as turning off lights and heating when no one is present, a truly smart building allows for more data to be collected. This, in turn, provides deeper analysis into how the building is used. For example, by using data-driven insights to garner a better understanding of the preferences, habits, and needs of workers, CRE leaders can continuously optimize the utilization of individual spaces for enhanced teamwork and different types of tasks.

Another clear advantage of the smart, connected office, is that it is better suited to today’s hybrid workplace models. With the majority of knowledge workers now favoring flexible conditions that allow them to shift between working from home and working in the office, a connected environment helps facilitate a seamless transition between both. For example, with connected audio and video technology, people can still work effectively as a team, no matter where they are physically located.

The Role of Network Infrastructure

Naturally, the network infrastructure required to transform commercial real estate into a smart building is complex. For the largest offices, this could involve installing dozens of routers, range extenders, and hundreds of meters of cabling to reliably and safely connect innovative AV solutions. Network bandwidth must also be configured correctly, with different systems being prioritized appropriately and redundancies put in place for critical systems. With the right infrastructure, you will have the foundations needed to boost network performance and availability and, in doing so, enhance employee experience throughout the space.

Partnering with Panduit gives CRE leaders access to the broadest portfolio of innovative network infrastructure and AV solutions on the market. These solutions help provide reliable, consistent network performance and increase speed to market. You can learn more about supporting tenant networking needs with innovative network infrastructure and AV solutions by visiting our commercial real estate solutions website. This post is the second in our series on key trends in CRE and their impact on network infrastructure. Be sure to subscribe above for updates to stay informed.


Monte Turnage