12 Ways to Make Your Office “Smarter” – Laura Gayle

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In a world increasingly conditioned to expect advances in technology, it pays to keep up with the latest useful apps and gadgets in the office — and in your company’s product offerings, where applicable. From microchipping merchandise to helping employees take advantage of useful tech in the office, here are several ways you can make your office smarter, more comfortable and more useful.

Traits that May Define a Smart Office

The removal of boundaries between employees and clients, between people and technology will define the smart office of the future. This goes beyond placing helpful chatbots on websites to incorporating tech in the physical and digital worlds that define the modern workspace.

Here are just a few elements of a smart office:

  • Internet of things: IoT will help create smart lights, virtual reality cameras and speakers, thermostats, and other tools, all of which can help employees engage in and concentrate on work in the office or from a remote location.
  • Machine learning: Machine intelligence is already being utilized in knowledge management and leadership tools. As a result, the new workplace might feel a bit like the gym — but instead of physical fitness, the product of your effort is seamless integration of technologies that automate tedious office processes: file management, meeting setup, and contacting workers and clients. Imagine the time you could save by answering emails with a bulletproof voice-to-text tool built into your email system!
  • Interconnectivity and control: Smart devices for the physical environment, such as dimmers, relays, and smart switches, can control everything from lights to energy conservation. Sensors can read UV light, temperature, and light levels and use the data to adjust smart windows that filter out harmful radiation while maximizing relaxing, healthy natural light. Simultaneously, wearable tech can instantly cue an app like Slack to order coffee or snacks.

Tech and Accessibility for Employees

Narrowing down from the greater IoT infrastructure, certain trends and devices seem poised for ubiquity in the modern work environment. Here are some ways that technology is likely to redefine the workplace.

  • Self-driving vehiclesTesla Autopilot was a test case, but Volkswagen, the world’s biggest vehicle manufacturer, recently announced its own plans to roll out autonomous driving in all its vehicles. Look for the first versions to be taxis and delivery vehicles, which should reduce the cost of ridesharing and delivery services. This trend, unfortunately, will likely eliminate a lot of jobs and only create a few software or engineering jobs in exchange.
  • Wide open spaces: Modern offices are more collaborative and inviting than old-school ones — more space, more flexibility, more natural light. What’s the point of implementing next-gen technology if it’s used in the same old creativity-killing cubicles?
  • Smart desks:New desks by Humanscale use IoT and data that transform the sitting vs. standing experience. Sensors alert workers when it’s time to change positions, tracking data patterns across time. For companies, Humanscale has a program that gamifies the experience so groups can enter competitions for the healthiest scores.
  • Voice-rec tech: Many workers are accustomed to using neat gadgets at home, and would love to utilize the same interconnected and voice-recognizing techat work. This might include, for example, the Echo Dot, a compact speaker that ties into Alexa’s voice control capability and even takes calls.
  • Hands-free tools.These can not only make work more productive, but they can also prevent injuries inflicted by repetitive stress. This includes voice-activated devices, apps, and voice-to-text tools embedded in office applications such as email and word processing tools.
  • Digital admins:Imagine walking into a conference room and ordering its AI to connect you to your 10 a.m. video call with clients from across the country. All the systems would perform a diagnostic, report any known issues, and start up the necessary tools, connecting all participants and opening access to necessary files. A forerunner of this technology, Amazon’s Alexa for Business, will enable workers to multitask via calendars, tasks and data requests.

Reaching Customers Where They Live

Another of the main areas to benefit from innovative technology is customer and client interaction. The marketplace has been transformed in recent years by an emphasis on data collection, personalized recommendations, and enhanced methods of customer interaction and support.

  • Interconnectivity:Many different technologies will combine to simplify the traditional customer service and client interface processes. Chromecast and Apple TV already make it easy for guests to connect laptops to share their screens and run PowerPoint presentations. Zoom is one example of conference/video call technology that merely requires a 9-digit number or name to join.
  • Implanted information:In this sci-fi scenario come true, Three Square Market provides self-service mini-markets located in hotels, hospitals and company break rooms. Transactions are accomplished via microchips planted subcutaneously under customers’ (and some employees’) skin.
  • Radical personalization:In commodity terms, customer data is the new gold. Companies are increasingly using AI to track customers’ usage and purchase patterns on their sites and personalizing each step of the “customer journey” accordingly with products and services.

Smart office tech doesn’t have to be earth-shattering to make a big difference to those it touches. Unfortunately, some of the initial installations come with big price tags; that’s all the more reason to look beyond physical modifications. See what can be done virtually to expand or shatter the limitations of a physical office through incorporating apps and tools that seamlessly connect co-workers and clients. These technologies are enabling creative, collaborative, and commercial interactions among folks that are far-flung, whether they’re on safari in Africa or in an automated, smart penthouse in New York City.

By Laura Gayle, Business Woman Guide. Laura is a full-time blogger who is passionate about e-commerce and the ways technology is helping to rejuvenate the American dream. I created this guide to be a trusted resource for women trying to start or grow businesses on their own terms. For many of us, entrepreneurship is the key to true work-life balance.