What are smart workplaces and why are they important?
COVID-19 is transforming the traditional workplace.
More employees are now working remotely, business operations need better safeguarding and employers have a greater duty of care to all stakeholders.
In light of these changes, business owners and investors are being forced to quickly adapt their workplaces to maximise productivity and ensure their long-term success through and beyond these times.
A combination of remote and office-based work raises issues on connectivity and information access, employee communication, safety, and data security.
The investors and tenants that come out confident are those who embrace ‘smart’ workplaces. If you're a commercial property investor, you should be finding ways to evolve your properties accordingly. If you're a tenant, you should be thinking about the future of your workplace and what you need to do adapt to employee and space needs.
But what makes a workplace ‘smart’? What sort of initiatives and processes can you implement to achieve this? These are all the elements you need to embrace.
The ability for workplaces to remain flexible and adapt their setup to suit any situation is key.
The shift to remote work is one of the biggest workplace trends to come out of COVID-19.
Despite concerns from business owners on productivity, these past few months have proven our ability to maintain an optimal performance from home. In fact, the change has been so great it’s expected to stick around, with 63% of workers being open to working from home full-time. So, it’s the businesses that cater to these options that will succeed.
But as we continue into new territory and our situation seems to evolve daily, it’s even more important for workplaces to be open to multiple operational changes. Restrictions are always subject to change, so even possessing flexible procedures around the management of desk and room space will make a huge difference.
Safety of employees
Safety precautions such as personal hygiene, social distancing and individual health are at the forefront of workplace concerns. Smart workplaces are set up to support a duty of care and accommodate the need for employee safety. Especially in shared office spaces, the necessary technology and special measures will need to be implemented.
Internet of Things (IoT) systems and technology are now being embraced as in safe, easy and secure solutions. Examples of IoT in the post-COVID workplace include automated or voice activated shared touch points, such as door handles, elevators and sanitary systems, or phone-based authentication and building access.
We’ve also seen expansion into specialist equipment, such as monitoring and analysing everything from hand soap levels, to office movement and capacity numbers, to even room temperature and humidity levels.
These solutions will also be key for record-keeping and on-premise contact tracing.
As teams spread between work and the office, connectivity is crucial in uniting your employees and supporting business continuity.
Providing strong internet networks with fast speeds caters to the increased need for online communications and fulfilment of tasks. Solid connectivity also ensures any IoT systems, like the sensors discussed above, work properly.
With staff working across multiple sites including homes and offices, there’s also a need to establish reliable access to corporate networks and cloud applications which hold company information. The emphasise here is on reliability and security – employees need to be able to access their work from essentially anywhere, but without jeopardising company information.
Installing Wi-Fi extenders, hardware, company software and VPNs are just some of the avenues to improving connectivity. These technologies also need to be continually maintained and upgraded when necessary.
In-office and remote employees can still uphold great teamwork with streamlined communication and collaboration systems.
Providing shared digital collaborative spaces are smart and efficient in allowing employees to assign tasks, participate in discussions, provide updates where necessary and submit any work. Plus, with reduced face-to-face conversations and meetings, online communication systems are more important than ever.
There’s a wealth of tools to choose from, including software like Slack, mobile apps, video conferencing services like Zoom, or even just your general social media platforms. The best options for your workplace will depend on factors such as your business size, sector and budget, as well as needs of your employees.
Remote workplace structure
Smart workplaces aren’t just about the office space – both employers and employees need to consider the structure of their remote office. At home, a smart workplace will be separate from other areas of the household, such as the bedroom, dining area, lounge room, to optimise productivity levels, eliminate distractions and create boundaries.
Technically, employers may need to work with staff to ensure they’re set up with the right technology, including quality laptops, screens and other devices, as well as strong Wi-Fi coverage.
Performance-wise, remote workplaces may also adopt technology to monitor productivity, performance metrics and wellbeing data.
Start adapting your workplace now
Now is the time for commercial property owners and tenants to future-proof workplaces. It is important to get advice on the right strategy and way forward, to ensure your property provides an environment that is safe, secure and efficient for your employees, that will ultimately fuel continued business and property growth.
Contact us to discuss your needs. No obligations.
Managing Director, Broadway Property
Director, Broadway Property