The pandemic forced a fast and widespread shift to how we work. Remote working and the home office became the norm – and may well be here to stay. However, forward-thinking companies are using intelligent technology to create new types of physical office environments. These will balance safety, health, sustainability, and embraces employee experience in a whole new way.
But as companies strive to lead – to prioritize purpose and place empathy into their mission and values – what role do intelligent buildings and intelligent technology play in shaping a safer, more sustainable workplace?
Intelligent technology and the new, distributed workforce
Perhaps unsurprisingly, technology will be key to how we solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. It’s certainly, playing a central role in the global response to the pandemic, not least in enabling millions of people to work from home. Of course, remote working hasn’t always been seamless or easy. Whether it be juggling a busy household, trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance, or coping with fluctuating productivity levels, working from home presents many challenges that are difficult to manage. While many people have found advantages from working from home, many also looking forward to returning to the office.
Yet for organizations, returning teams to the office is not a simple task. It means combining technology, physical space and policy to create a safer and sustainable environment. It means equipping employees with intuitive tools and solutions that provide a frictionless experience and helps them improve their contribution. Further, it needs to be a space where they can be inspired and connect with others.
As we continue to navigate our lives during the pandemic, workforces will become increasingly flexible. We’ll see hybrid ways of working, with time divided between the home and physical offices. Yet, instead of just turning up by rote, activity-based working will drive the new distributed workforce. Employees will schedule time in the office, based on availability and capacity. Team members will make appointments in order to collaborate or perform a particular task on the premises. They will then choose – or get spaces – based on how and when the task needs to be completed.
Intelligent buildings optimize the workplace, boosting wellness and performance
Companies that thrive are those that can think and plan beyond the immediate crisis. They’ll consider how their choices will foster long-term success. Think, for example, about the decisions and investments your organization makes about the health and safety of its employees. These reflect on your brand and team experience but also how you’ll attract and retain talent. Forward-thinking organizations can improve employee engagement and increase contribution in a number of ways, and buildings with intelligent technology will have the edge. They will allow the design of spaces with necessary health and safety measures, thermal comforts and a great deal of aesthetic appeal.
The intelligent office also drives improved sustainability. It will reduce energy consumption and offer predictive maintenance. These will contribute to organizations’ environmental, social and governance goals, and reduce operational costs. A holistic approach – using the concept of extensibility – will also mean previously siloed systems can now connect to a central location, its ‘digital twin’. This will allow unparalleled insights into how buildings, space and people combine and where efficiencies and improvements can be achieved.
The catalyst for digital acceleration and sustainability
The pandemic is fueling the demand for a safe and positive workplace experience that meets public health and safety guidelines. Organizations have fast-tracked existing workplace programs in order to achieve business continuity. Everywhere, three-year plans are have been condensed into ones with 12 to 18-month timeframes.
Organizations realize they need now the technology that was previously only on their future ‘wish list’. They are also recognizing that intelligent buildings will help them bring their employees back to work. Intelligent technology offers a connected experience, both for regular employees and visitors. Consider the access system, connected to the ‘Back to Office’ booking application, and which also links to the heating, air ventilation, lighting options. At the touch of a button, organizations can automatically manage the variables and provide an optimal and safe environment. This will also provide auditable data that shows how organizations are achieving social distancing, capacity planning and other regulatory requirements.
NTT is working to make cities and communities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. We recognize the critical role that intelligent buildings and workplaces have in creating smart cities. By helping cities, we help the world.