5 signs your workplace isn't smart

November 22, 2022

We normally use this space to list the benefits of IoT-powered solutions that are typically counted among the things that make a building “smart”. This time, we’re going to look at things from the other side and what happens when those solutions are missing. 

Instead of the advantages and strengths of an IoT-enabled smart workspace, we’re going to focus on the weaknesses that are inevitable in a modern workplace that is still technologically stuck in the pre-”smart” era. 

These areas will be easily recognizable to anyone who has become used to the conveniences and streamlined operations of workplaces that have made the transitions to upgraded workflows, greater efficiencies and a better overall experience for anyone using the space.

Once you get used to being “smart”, anything less just isn’t good enough. But before we get to that, let’s clarify what we’re talking about and what is smart technology in the workplace.

Table of contents:

What is “smart”?

First, let’s set out a definition of “smart” that serves to describe the ideas we’re covering here. In its simplest contemporary meaning, “smart” buildings use technology to assign resources in the most efficient way possible. 

This typically manifests in four primary ways:

  • Space optimization. Smart technologies can give you more accurate insights into how your space is used and if it is correctly divided in a way that meets your needs. 
  • Automation. The real-time information gathered by IoT-powered infrastructures can be integrated with building management systems to automate things like environmental conditions, lighting and some security measures. 
  • Preventative maintenance. With so many moving parts in physical systems in large buildings, something somewhere is nearly always approaching the point of breakdown or failure, restocking routine maintenance. Sensor data collected from smart technologies can estimate when these events will take place and create preventative maintenance schedules to avoid closures, delays and other interruptions. 
  • Tracking services. RTLS (Real Time Location Services) are the foundation of any number of applications that provide real-time insights into the location of assets, employees, visitors and more. 

So, with this definition in mind, here are 5 signs that the next workspace you visit is not taking advantage of solutions powered by smart technologies.

Also, what is a smart workplace and what isn't?

1. Bottlenecks

This will be one of the defining features of any workspace that does not use IoT solutions. Bottlenecks in work routines, traffic patterns, procedures, production lines or anything else that requires a smooth flow are inevitable without digital insights into how things and people move. 

Without digital insights that provide hard data, you’re dependent on manual observation and guesswork when it comes to identifying the cause of bottlenecks. Experimentation may eventually help you come up with the right answer but why waste the time and effort when IoT-powered sensors can make it easy to digitally visualize the precise places where flows stop and backups start. 

2. Wasted time & resources

Very closely related to the previous point, wasted time and resources are always the expected result when you set up processes and workflows without analyzing them from a data perspective

This is illustrated by the power of one of the most useful of all “smart” capabilities — asset tracking. Every large workplace wastes significant time and resources looking for devices, machines and other necessary tools. When the location of every tagged asset is just a click away, it’s fast and easy to find what you need to get the job done. 

Without real-time location tracking, you have no choice but to search room to room, floor to floor, wing to wing, etc. in search of the right tool. This is a massive waste of time and cuts deeply into productivity. 

3. Unnecessary costs

The benefits of asset tracking go well beyond the ability to find a particular asset when you need it. Another key benefit and essential must-have is being able to easily conduct highly accurate inventories.

Inventories are usually an unwelcome chore, both because of the effort required and the likelihood that the results will cause problems of their own due to being inconsistent with records about the number of assets on hand. 

With smart location services enabled, you can count tagged assets remotely without turning over every piece of furniture in the building. This obviously creates savings from greatly reduced man hours dedicated to a necessary but completely unproductive activity but the real savings come from avoiding over-purchasing.  

Over-purchasing is an extremely common business problem caused by a lack of insight into real inventory levels. When you can’t get an accurate count of the assets you have on hand, over-purchasing is the inevitable result because most businesses simply decide that it’s easier to order more than to find what they’re supposed to have. 

4. Security risks

Every day, busy office spaces are visited by lots of people who don’t work there on a daily basis. Repairmen, sales reps, vendors, couriers, potential employees attending interviews and more are present in workspaces. If there is an organized process for registering these people at all, it probably consists of giving them an access badge of some sort and trusting them to make their way to where they need to be

The potential for security breaches is obvious, particularly in a facility with areas that are sensitive for financial or technological reasons. Without real-time visibility into the precise location of visitors, you cannot be sure that they stay away from areas where they are not authorized to go. 

But that’s not all. Another aspect of security that is missing in non-IoT-enabled facilities is location tracking of employees that allows for quick responses in situations of duress. This is an especially important issue in healthcare facilities, where statistics show that nurses perform one of the most dangerous jobs due to the number of physical assaults and confrontations with patients. 

Find out more about hybrid workplaces and it's advantages.

5. Poor employee and visitor experience

This is a catch-all way of combining the smaller but important ways that smart services can make working in and visiting an office space more comfortable and inviting. 

Things like environmental conditions — heat, humidity and air quality — can be automatically managed and stopped from reaching uncomfortable extremes through automated smart management. Meeting spaces and conference rooms can be checked for occupancy remotely rather than forcing employees to search from one space to another.

Wayfinding assistance can guide visitors through an unfamiliar space. Entire workspaces can be redesigned to make them better fit the needs of the occupants and create a more physically and mentally comfortable space in the process. 

Going “smart” enables a long list of applications that improve the workplace from a number of perspectives. Higher productivity among employees, more efficient use of time and resources, a more secure environment and direct, provable savings thanks to the transparency that digital insights bring.

Any modern workspace that hasn’t gone “smart” increasingly stands out for all the wrong reasons. If you know that it’s time for your office to step up but you’re not sure where to start, talk to our Sales team today and discover how easy it is to make this essential upgrade.

Eliza

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