Blog

Published on: 04 January 2024

Updated on: 05 January 2024

Read time: 5 minutes

Tina Batham

Managing Director

The spaces where we work shape almost every aspect of how we operate as professionals.

Yet most conventional offices remain stubbornly static - unable to adapt or respond to our changing needs. The shift towards hybrid workplaces has placed new complex demands on our workplaces at a time when employee experience determines organisational success more than ever before.

This is precisely why smart building technology presents such a compelling opportunity to reimagine our spaces. By embedding offices with networked sensors, automated controls, and integrated data analytics, we can effectively upgrade the IQ of our buildings and work areas. The result is intelligent workplaces that can dynamically adjust to our preferences, tasks, and business goals in real time.

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What are Smart Buildings?

Smart buildings incorporate communication networks and intelligent systems into infrastructure and operations. This grants measurable improvements in sustainability, efficiency, comfort and informed decision making.

Core technologies include:

  • Internet of Things (IoT) Sensors: Devices like occupancy trackers, indoor air quality monitors, thermal scanners and more placed throughout spaces to continuously gather environmental and usage data.
  • Automated Controls: HVAC, lighting, and other systems can self-adjust based on sensor data instead of running based on rigid manual settings.
  • Integrated Software: Centralised dashboards and facility management programs analyse gathered data and identify optimisation opportunities.
  • Frictionless Interfaces: Building occupants have immediate control over personalised comfort and workspace preferences via apps and devices.

By synthesising real-time insights across previously siloed domains like energy management, space utilisation and employee experience, smart infrastructure creates a more profound, responsive awareness of how to improve human-centred offices.

What are the benefits of smart buildings?

Intelligent office fit outs impact several key areas:

Financial Optimisation

Smart buildings provide energy savings between 10-40% via needs-based lighting and HVAC adjustments. Sensor-assisted predictions also minimise time-based equipment wear. Streamlined maintenance means large cost reductions.

Health & Wellbeing

Customised comfort and tailored environmental quality curate healthier, engaging environments proven to reduce absenteeism. Touchless interfaces and occupancy-based air cycling also support priorities.

Culture & Experience

Personal comfort controls and unified data create transparent, employee-first work cultures. Frictionless bookings and interactive wayfinders also smooth hybrid workplace transitions between office and remote.

Insights & Planning

Granular space usage metrics provide data to optimise room and desk allocations. Crowding and environmental insights also support strategic decisions from real estate planning to HR initiatives.

Future-Proofing

Scalable platforms and open APIs allow smart capabilities to rapidly expand as needs change. Early movers also gain competitive advantage in tech-enabled workplaces to attract talent.

“In a 2021 survey by Deloitte, 63% of executives ranked smart buildings as an investment priority to stay resilient and adaptable.”

Sustainability and Smart Buildings

Smart buildings can also provide major sustainability benefits through dramatically improved energy efficiency and resource conservation - reducing the carbon footprint of offices and work areas.

By continuously optimising and rightsizing systems like HVAC, lighting, and plug loads based on detailed occupancy patterns and usage analytics, smart infrastructure avoids the over provisioning and energy waste plaguing conventional spaces. The rich IoT sensor data and trend insights made available by smart platforms also empower better strategic planning and simulation.

The transparent visibility smart buildings offer into facilities usage educates occupants as well and encourages conservation behaviours. By putting dashboards displaying energy demands and environmental quality into employees' hands via apps, participation in sustainability expands beyond just facilities management teams.

Smart building technologies in action

Some of the key technologies driving intelligent office interior design:

IoT Environmental Sensors

Wireless IoT sensors track granular data like indoor air temperature, humidity, occupancy levels and more. This lets HVAC and ventilation systems respond dynamically to maintain personalised comfort zones. Proactively adjusting systems also saves energy and costs.

Sensors tracking room-level utilisation helps optimise seating arrangements and identify meeting and collaboration space needs more effectively. Buildings can even indicate open desks and spaces via integrated employee apps.

Automated Lighting & Shades

Intelligent lighting solutions tune output based on details like daylight brightness, room occupancy and schedules. Automated window shades also regulate glare and heat. Automatically optimising lighting can save up to 70% in energy, while ensuring ideal illumination for tasks and screens to reduce eyestrain.

Indoor Air Quality Monitoring

Dedicated IAQ sensors continually verify ventilation systems provide night CO2, VOC and particulate levels for employee health. More frequent air cycling then counteracts issues before they impact concentration and fatigue.

Building Management Systems (BMS)

Cloud-connected BMS platforms centralise control and monitoring for HVAC, lighting and other building systems via user-friendly dashboards accessible on devices. This simplifies remote adjustments and provides transparency into equipment performance.

Analysing trends also improves planning from sensors suggesting expanded meeting room capacity to ART indicating a cooling tower replacement timeline.

Workplace Experience Apps

Mobile interfaces allow employees frictionless control over their local environment and desk preferences from smartphones - choosing desired lighting scenes and temperature. Onboarding tutorials provide new hires appliance-level guidance on optimising their space.

Apps also enable efficient desk and room booking, interactive wayfinding, touchless access control, food ordering, loyalty rewards, push notifications and community curation as part of a unified workplace experience platform converging physical and digital environments.

Smart building infrastructure transcends conventionally static workspaces. By continuously optimising environments in response to occupant and organisational needs, we can create truly intelligent workplaces that empower businesses and their employees. Modular, scalable platforms that remove silos and integrate IoT sensors and automated adaptive systems are the future for upgrading offices through purposeful, perceptive technologies.

Anand Scialó

Smart Building Consultant at Smart Spaces

Creating an intelligent workspace

Transitioning to an intelligent building is a scalable, modular process focused on adding value for an organisation instead of implementing technology for its own sake.

Modernising even smaller elements like lighting or meeting rooms through IoT allows businesses to pilot capabilities with minimal disruption before expanding smart infrastructure as strategic needs grow over 12-24 months.

There is no one-size-fits-all blueprint - rather the most effective intelligent workspaces emerge from collaborations with internal stakeholders, specialised consultants and innovative manufacturers who translate company goals into responsive, future-ready work environments empowering productivity and purpose.

The potential waiting to be unlocked applies equally to brand new buildings as well as transforming existing real estate. Location-based services even extend intelligent connectivity into disparate teams moving between corporate, home and shared spaces.

The next chapter of great workplace design will be defined by upgradable, perceptual infrastructure that continuously learns from those working within it. Are you ready to write about your organisation's future?

Start building smarter today

This overview provided insight into how integrated smart technology can guide workplaces into their full potential - creating secure, sustainable and inspiring environments supporting changing workplace strategies and raising employee experience benchmarks amidst fierce competition for top talent.

To explore options tailored for your unique business objectives and existing infrastructure, contact our specialist workplace team today.

Meet the Author

Tina Batham

Managing Director

With over 25 years’ experience, Tina is a recognised and trusted industry leader whose client portfolio spans a huge body of work. Having consulted across most sectors, Tina is proficient in identifying the best solutions; focusing and advising on any single project to achieve outstanding results. As managing director, Tina is a hands-on team player as well as a strategist and experienced business development professional.

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