Keeping Up with the Digital Culture with Smart Office Design
We’ve all had that one bad day where the entire office building seems like it’s actively conspiring against you – the light above your workstation is too bright, the A/V system is on the fritz, you’re doing all the manual labor, and sitting around for a long periods of time is just now starting to show its adverse effects. But you know what? These things are not going to be an issue for much longer because the workplace of the future is already in the making! Smart office design is the next generation workplace and we’re here to tell you how you can convert yours!
Smart offices are at the forefront of innovation and technology. Every time you think of investing in taking your company headquarters to a new level by opting for ‘smarter’ solutions, you are actively improving the management and productivity of your workplaces!
You must be thinking what exactly is a ‘smart office’ and why should I invest in it, right? So let’s take a look at what this concept has to offer in terms of improved workspace management and environment.
The internet and the continually growing design market have totally redefined and revolutionized the way we experience spaces, right? Well, integrated smart office design is the next big thing and both owners and employees are striving to create more collaborative spaces that are less focused on individualistic work. This has resulted in a more ‘intelligent’ and progressive work environment.
The thing about integrating smart technology in your workplace is that it allows everyone to customize his or her spaces. This ends up resulting in better productivity as well as the improved health and wellbeing of all users.
Further, let’s take a look at how incorporating a ‘smart’ working lifestyle can improve the workspace dynamics:
Impact of the Digital Culture on smart office design
Before we go any further, let’s understand the importance of the Digital Culture. The term ‘Digital Culture’ is a very vast one. It encompasses and defines the contemporary lifestyle in two very appropriate words. We live in a world where small kids are glued to their digital devices from a very young age. We live in a world where knowing coding, latest software and being tech savvy evokes a sense of productivity. So as a result, incorporating technology in a workspace can result in a definite boost of efficiency.
This is why a smart office design is such a basic need these days. We absolutely need this digital transformation to accommodate the next generation employees and update our company cultures. Did you know that a recent study by Microsoft has concluded that, “the stronger the digital culture in the company is, the lower the percentage of employees who feel unproductive, lacking innovativeness and short on empowerment.”
Therefore, a smart office design is not just a theoretical idea to be inspired by – it’s the new way of life to get the most progressive workspace.
Design Based Smart Offices
There are two ways you can make your workplaces smarter – by using technology, and by using design-based techniques. First, we’ll be taking a look at how a few tweaked design elements can completely transform the stratosphere of an office completely! Let’s take a look:
1. Layout and Activity-based Workplaces
The layout is one of the most important factors to be considered in a smart office design. The workplace of the future is continuously deviating from the workplace of the past, and we can definitely see major improvements on the horizon! Cellular offices are definitely the office design module of the last century. Although widely used, this layout idea has definitely run its course.
The new set-up features unique privacy-friendly workstations along with open spaces to enclose the most minimal part of your floor plan. These semi-enclosed stations are definitely more stylish, comfortable and highly ergonomic.
The other option you can incorporate in the layout of your smart office design is the activity-based workplace. Not only is it eco-friendly, it also reduces the amount of space used yet increases productivity at the same time. In such an office you don’t really work at the same desk all day. Instead, you choose your workspace depending on what you’re doing. There are spaces like team tables, café lounges, reading nooks, informal meeting areas, concentrated work areas, silent phone booths and even privacy-friendly workstations.
2. Biophilic Designing
Biophilia is basically creating a space that features the best of nature and man-made things. Therefore, a nature-inspired smart office design is a hot trend these days. You can emulate this concept in your offices by integrating lots of natural light and views, using indoor plants and other natural/organic materials. This idea is especially appealing when your office is located in a building that has very little access to nature if any at all.
A biophilic environment is known to enhance worker satisfaction, boost productivity and even reduce sick leave. The fresh air, access to good views and daylight has a positive impact on the employees. This results in better performance. In fact, studies show that use of biophilic elements can result in an 8% increase in productivity and a 13% increase in creativity.
Some simple tips to taken the first step of achieving Biophilia in your space:
- Bright /Vibrant colors – Blues, greens, yellows
- Views of nature/greenery (Take full advantage if available)
- Natural light
- Indoor greenery
- Quiet working hubs – A place for people to escape from the open plan
- Use of natural materials
3. Dynamic and Agile Spaces
As mentioned before, the cellular office of the past is so last century. These days, dynamic and agile spaces are all the rage in a smart office design. Such spaces are highly interactive and do not have any physical or ergonomic constraints. You can easily rearrange the furniture to your liking. It’s very non-traditional and even the furniture design is crafted to be comfortable, cushy and organic. It allows the employees to work however they want with minimal restrictions.
4. Quiet Zones
Any office worker can tell you that spending eight hours a day straight-backed and constantly staring at your computer is totally unrealistic. Employees also need their ‘recharging zones.’ This is why the office design of the future is all about creating some quiet zones to recharge their employees. These include nap/resting rooms, smartly designed café areas, and sitting spaces where the employee can just sit back and chill out for a few minutes with a cup of joe. The furniture of these spaces is also casual, welcoming and relaxed. Bean bags are a huge hit, along with tiny coffee tables and oversized swing sets.
5. Colors and Textures
Everything in a smart office design is very deliberate. This means that each color and texture used in the space needs to be carefully selected beforehand. The logic behind selecting them is quite simple. The human mind feels relatively at ease when surrounding by nature-inspired settings. These include textures like wood, stone, metal and more. So, using these natural finishes in an office can automatically result in a totally calming ambiance. You can go for bamboo partition walls, jute textured furniture upholstery, exposed brick walls, wooden floors, metallic decoration pieces and the like to inspire this kind of an atmosphere.
As far as color palates are concerned, they depend completely on your corporate brand identity. You can either use the bold colors that the graphics team has concocted for your branding and logo. Or you can go for an understated palate of neutral and earthy colors that blends well with all the biophilic elements of your office design. However, it’s always recommended to go for a few bold colored accents in either your furniture or a feature wall to spruce up the ambiance. Otherwise, it will look quite boring.
6. A home-like Atmosphere
A smart office design never perpetuates the typical rigidness of the offices of the past. The idea of working in a sterile, officious and completely formal setting is what curbs most employee’s productivity. This is why the concept of home-away-from-home has become such a major hit with smart offices. You can add a homey touch to the workspace by going for cushy furniture like the Togo sofa, emulating certain distressed textures and opting for comfortable lighting. You can also add a napping area, a gaming room or even a juice bar depending on how far you want to take it.
7. Collaborative Huddle-meeting Rooms
The workforce of today is mostly comprised of millennials, and they do not like to be confined to tiny desks. This is why the collaborative huddle-meeting room idea has become such an instant hit in the smart office design genre. These spaces are mostly used to converge and brainstorm ideas. They’re less rigid than typical meeting rooms and allow the user to feel much more relaxed. The emphasis on collaboration and learning is a definite bonus!
8. Calculating the Basic Essentials
One of the most important things to consider in the making of a smart office design is calculating the essentials. These basically include knowing the cost of your fit-out, knowing how much space you’ll need and keeping some handy checklists to determine what’s the first step. There are many online tools you can use to do so. And if you cannot figure them out, you can always come to us, at CAS for a quick consultancy to get you started.
Technology-Based Smart Offices
Now, let’s take a look at how technology has revolutionized our workspaces:
1. Your Building Management Systems
The building management system is a ‘smart integrated technology’ that links and networks all the different aspects of a smart office design. These include access, water, security, power, lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilation. This system is basically the motherboard that controls all the other ones on a micro level, and studies predict that they’ll become an inherent part of our lifestyles quite soon.
I mean, could you have imagined that someday we’d have a smart door locks, security cameras, thermostats, lighting and window blinds that could communicate with each other to create the perfect ambiance? But this is how things are these days, and offices are definitely turning out to be a better place because of them!
2. Biometric Access Systems
Oldies might remember logging into their workspace by signing their name on an age-old register, but today that is a thing of the past. These days, a smart office design has emulated an almost futuristic approach to ‘punching in.’ The ‘biometric system’ has become a part of the workplace lifestyle. These turnstiles are installed at the entrance where RIFD system runs a face/fingerprint recognition system to punch you in. Not only have such systems ensures efficiency, they’re also highly ergonomic!
3. Building Environmental Control Systems
If you work in an office with a manual thermostat, then you’ll know how uncomfortable it can get to achieve that ideal room temperature. On the other hand, offices with automated and customized temperature controls can are much more beloved by the employees. Everyone feels comfortable in a smart office design. However, the thing about temperature control is that it’s highly subjective. This basically means that people will have varied reactions to different temperatures based on their age and gender.
This is why the workspace of the future is all about installing individual environmental controls are the best solution to keep the majority of the workforce happy. Think of it this way – if John Doe is too hot or too cold, it will have a negative effect on the quality of their work. But if they are given the chance to feel comfortable in their own habitat, then the company will benefit from increased productivity on their behalf! It’s a total win-win!
The type of lighting used in an office can either hamper or increase productivity of the employees. This is why ‘smart lighting controls’ play a much more important role in the design of a workspace. In just a span of a few years, the lighting controls market has become a booming industry. A combination of integrated LEDs and natural lighting seems to be the best immersive lighting pattern in a smart office design.
Both of these can have a positive impact on the wellbeing and productivity of the employees. Moreover, you can even impress your clients by utilizing the capabilities of your smart office design to the fullest and going for snazzy lighting that matches the color of their attire. The possibilities have become quite literally endless!
5. Smart Grids
Smart grids and distributed energy throughout the building are two intrinsic smart office design components. A smart grid is basically an electricity supply network which usually uses digital communications technology to detect and react to local changes in usage. This is an important building component – especially for large companies who occupy an entirety of a building for their purposes.
This grid consists of an intelligent communications network that can help you manage your energy consumption with the help of smart meters, smart appliances and renewable energy resources. No more wasted electricity because someone forgot to switch off the lights!
6. Smart Security
Security is a key component of any smart office design – and this is not only connected to physical surveillance. Most of our data is now digitally stored, but left unprotected, these devices could be easily hacked! The IT sector is a whole new industry that devotes itself to prevent cyber hacking companies. This is an additional component to be considered in a smart office design.
Similarly, the genre of physical surveillance is also evolving. Smart cameras are now able to take wall-to-wall footage, can send constant alerts, and are able to provide crisp HD security footage!
The new workspaces feature a more integrated and connected outlook. Employees are no longer restricted to single cell workstations. Instead, the flexible idea of ‘hot-desking’ is being widely embraced. This is basically a practice where offices allocate desks to workers on a rota-system rather than a fixed seat. This concept has definitely resulted in improved productivity and communication between the employees, and allows the designers to create a more flexible and adaptive space.
Another way to make office spaces smarter is by going for ‘agile office’ design concept which allows the workers to complete their tasks anywhere they want so long as they complete it on time. This promotes equality and increased employee mobility, which is always superb for health! The flexibility also allows for improved collaboration between various people! The end results are what truly matter in a smart office design, so the layout is especially important.
7. Connected Devices
How many of you have stood impatiently beside a slow-churning printer while your boss waited in their office? And how many of you have botched a simple copying job? Don’t worry – we’ve all been there. It is literally part of the evolution, but today we have smarter, more efficient devices that are linked through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and internet and are making our workplaces so much more ergonomic.
8. Smart Office Eessentials
Of course all smart offices need to be equipped with intelligent gadgets to be truly smart. It’s the only way for us to keep up with the digital culture, so further, we’ve compiled a list of some smart office design essentials you can upgrade your workplaces with:
- Belkin WeMo Switch: This next generation plug can be controlled with an iOS or an Android app. With it, you can schedule on/off times for your electronic devices in the office.
- Portable Casino Storage Box: with hot-desking trending so much, the problem of storing personal belongings is becoming a challenge. However, the Portable Casino Storage Box has been specifically designed to solve this problem. It features a pull-along handle and an expanded polypropylene top that can also double as a seat. You can easily store all your personal items here in 2-3 lockable drawers!
- Elgato Eve Room: This air-quality monitor allows you to avoid the ‘sick building syndrome’ by constantly monitoring the air around you for volatile organic compounds like paint fumes and cleaning products. It’s easy to use and lets you keep up with your health, which is one of the basic mantras of creating a progressive smart office design.
- Wireless Aircharge: Smart phones comprise more than half of your workplace experience and it’s always recommended to keep them fully charged. With the help of embedded technology, the wireless aircharge allows you to charge up your phone battery by simply placing it on the flat disc. It can be easily installed office furniture and is definitely a useful device.
- Wireless Smart Plugs: In offices, it can be quite easy to rack up large electricity bills beause computers, printers and other devices are left functioning all night. But with the Wireless Smart Plug, you can automatically turn all of them off at the end of the day.
The evolution of smart technology has completely changed the way we live and work. These are some of the major smart office design systems that are now being widely used by large and small companies alike. You can consult us, at CAS, to help you evolve your own company with the best ‘smart’ ideas out there!