Smart Office Buildings: Give The People What They Want

We are entering the age of the Smart Office. Digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa have proven themselves to have a market for home life, and many employers see tangible benefits to integrating these tools into their places of work according to a new report from British Land in partnership with WORKTECH Academy titled Smart Offices: A 2017 Vision for the Future.

Overall, businesses were convinced of the importance of this trend, with 90% of decision makers seeing the benefits of using smart offices and 87% saying they will require this technology next time they relocate.

However, questions remain. What do people really want their Smart Offices to do?

British land surveyed 1,065 office workers in London (291 of whom were completely involved in decision making about where their office was located) in order to learn about which features people wanted.

Smart Offices: What Features Do People Want to See?

The high interest levels are connected to a belief that smart offices will bring benefits to employees. Decision makers felt that smart offices could bring as much as a 51% increase in productivity and well being on average.

Other related aspects include employee loyalty and new talent, both of which have perceived average increase of 45% and 48% respectively. The most popular hypothetical features included:

  • Window shades and lighting that self adjust. (53% did not have this, but thought it would be helpful.)
  • Personalizing heat and lighting settings and letting those follow you through the building.
  • Circadian lighting designed to mimic daylight.
  • Automatic heat and lighting that shift based on occupancy and the weather.

Employees referenced the features above, which were aimed at comfort. Decision makers saw the potential for greater efficiency. Their interests included:

  • Apps for booking meeting rooms and desks (35%).
  • Meeting rooms where the screens interface seamlessly with personal devices (34 per cent).
  • Tracking of desks and rooms for monitoring efficiency (34%)
  • Personalized heat and lighting (34%)
  • Weather and occupancy determined heat and lighting (34%)

What’s the Next Step for Employers?

On average, employers suggested they would be working in smart offices “within two years”, but mentioned they really thought it would happen in four. 35% percent of employees felt their employer was making smart offices a priority.

As much as 58% of decision makers felt that one of the roadblocks to smart offices was cost, while 45% of older decision makers thought their building (45%) and culture (36%) might not be ready. Out of their younger counterparts, 35% said they lacked support for the concept among management.

Privacy and security were also of concern. This factor varied by generation. For ages 50 and over, only a quarter (25%) were worried about privacy and exposure to hacking, while overall 38% of those surveyed were concerned for privacy and 34% about hacking.

Going forward, the trend indicates interest will increase as younger generations more accustomed to such technology fill the workplace.