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What is a Smart Office?

What is a Smart Office?

Just picture this:

You’re on your way to work, comfy in the back of your self-driving Uber, scrolling through the latest industry news on your phone a little mindlessly, while slowly making your way through your list of emails that have come in overnight. Thankfully, your virtual assistant has already sorted them into a prioritized list.

You hear your virtual assistant in your ear remind you that your presentation with Greg from Acacia is in conference room 330 in 15 minutes. She gives you a brief overview of the meeting goals and reminds you of some key facts about Greg and his business.

You pull up to the office, step out of the car. As you approach the gorgeous glass sliding doors, your phone beeps softly and the doors open; access granted. Walking through the foyer it’s a pleasant 23 degrees, unlike the wintery Sydney 16 outside.

“Where is conference room 330, anyway?” you ponder without concern, as you head to the lifts. They open and your phone beeps softly again. You’re taken directly to floor 3. A light buzz in your pocket indicates you should head left. It’d be a harder buzz for a right turn. You find the room, the lights coming on for a bright, yet ambient feel and the windows changing tint to allow the natural light to filter in, too.

It seems you are the first one here. The espresso machine is rumbling away in the corner, a fresh cup mere minutes away. The delivery driver comes in with the latest assortment of baked goods your virtual assistant ordered for the meeting. Ah, croissants! Just what you felt like!

Your virtual assistant has already brought up the Acacia presentation on the large Smart TV on the wall, and you grab the smart pointer from the wall in preparation.

As you sip your fresh cup of coffee, you think back to 2010 and wonder how on earth anyone got anything done in business at all.

Think all this is at least 10 years away? More? All this is possible now. And future-thinking offices all around the world are slowly adopting the concept of the smart office.

What is a smart office?

Smart offices are buildings designed to conserve energy (often incorporating renewable energy, such as solar into the building design), allow employees to be more efficient, productive, and comfortable, and reduce IT management and control overheads – which can be passed off to AI.

A true smart office is a building designed from the ground up to work in harmony with the surrounding environment, with IoT-enabled systems built in, or designed to be able to be added later on, across all systems.

This might include elements like:

  • Automatic temperature control with various sensors
  • Automatic lighting adjustment
  • Smart scheduling and directions
  • Fluid work across all devices
  • Automatic power switching from solar to the grid to …
  • Intelligent building security
  • Automatic office supplies refilling
  • Smart hot-desking
  • Automatic desk ergonomic adjustments
  • Systems that call out contractors when elements are wearing
  • Automatic call-out for areas that need cleaning

While most of these systems can be automated without the need for human interaction, there are control hubs (with varying degrees of user access) that can allow for manual adjustments or shut down.

Concerns about smart offices

There are three main concerns with smart offices that people generally bring up:

What happens if something goes wrong?

What people fail to take into account with technology is that it is generally less fallible than a human. After all – to err is human. Tested and supported tech solutions that are managed behind the scenes and automatically patched for updates are more reliable than their human counterparts.

The issues that arise with tech elements are when outlying scenarios have not been considered, testing is not thorough, and when things do go wrong, secondary measures are not in place to correct.

The errors that machines make are errors in code, or when unusual situations arise (that haven’t been considered) where a machine doesn’t respond like a human would in the situation.

However, as tech zooms along, especially with machine learning and AI, these issues are fast fading into the background. If 90% of car accidents are attributed to driver error, and autonomous vehicles are programmed to account for each and every one of these errors, then the rate of accidents is sure to dramatically decrease – provided the systems are thorough, and thoroughly tested.

Manual override of systems will always be an option, and with smart devices, they’ll alert you when something is up – if they’ve been comprehensively developed, that is.

What about control?

Like we just mentioned, manual override will always be an option. However, day-to-day control or adjustments will also be available through hubs, too. This complete oversight of the smart office will allow people to relax, safe in the knowledge that the machines can’t just “do what they want”. Instead of a building supervisor/administrator in the future, you might have a building hub supervisor.

Already, businesses are putting their IT systems maintenance and control in the hands of cloud computing services and management, with minimal in-house configuration and management needed. This removes the pain of IT systems management from within, and instead allows administrators simple control panels to configure things such as network and app access, adding new staff, and more.

We will always have control, but it will be far simpler and less resource-heavy.

What about security?

Data security and physical security is always going to be a prime concern for businesses. With a complex network of devices and physical security measures in the smart office, this means that in-built security and monitoring is going to be of the utmost importance.

Thankfully, there are plenty of services around that can help you to ensure security is baked into your smart office plan. And that’s what it needs to be – baked in. It is important to carefully evaluate each considered IoT device within the system to see whether it poses a security risk.

You need to have systems you rely upon. Do you trust a Google hub? Do you want to create your own? Tech security experts in smart building and office design can help walk through potential gotchas.

If you are thinking about starting to incorporate smart office concepts into your workplace, we can help you work through what’s required; from IoT device security, to hub management, cloud computing options, and setting up automatic workflows to help make life in the office not only more productive, but more of a breeze. Get in contact with us at A1 Technologies to start making your office a more clever place to work.

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