The Ultimate Guide to Building a Smart Office

Although we are now in the 21st century, you would not know it by the look of most offices. Worse still, the idea of a smart office is often ridiculed as utopian. But, in fact, everything necessary for a smart office is available. You can buy everything you need. You can buy it online or offline. You can buy the best hardware and the latest software without a problem. You can decorate with enthusiasm from a wide variety of furniture or art. Businesses have yet to realize the many benefits of building one. 3 Benefits of a Smart Office At first blush, a smart office may not seem like a big deal. It may be a fun idea to play with. But apart from looking good, what value does it offer? Here are 3 reasons why a smart office may be more valuable than you thought. 1. It makes it easier for executive management. Inspired by aesthetics and functionality, people love where they work. This makes it easier for management to lead. Management can improve productivity, efficiency, and workflow. 2. It makes it easier for IT Management. Open floor plans, easy to access terminals, and convenient outlets make work easier. An efficient IT means less faulty server problems. It means less data theft. And it makes it easier to combat hacking. A disorganized environment can breed all sorts of technical inefficiencies. 3. It makes it easier for workers to do their thing. A calm, beautiful environment makes it easier work. With enough space for people to meet and discuss ideas, a company begins to thrive. Problems get identified. Current situations get worked on. Harmony makes it easier for staff to collaborate on all the work that needs to get done. Impressing Clients A business that can impress its customers will have more business referrals. It will also have more return business. A smart office impresses everyone. It inspires those who work there, and it awes those who visit on business. How does your office measure up against other offices? Is it another forgettable one? If you asked a client what he thought about your office, would he even remember it? Was he stunned by the technology and design? Was he impressed by a quiet sense of efficiency and productivity? What Does A Smart Office Look Like? What does a smart office look like and do you need one for your business? A smart office is much more than a little imagination. It is much more than a clever design expressed through a CAD program. When thinking about a smart office, you have to think about many novel ideas. You also have to think about aesthetics, ergonomics, storage, lighting, and ambiance. But before we go into those details, let’s pause to consider what we mean by the word “smart.” Get Smart When we talk about smart things, we mean smart technology. We think we know what this means, but only through example. We live in a world of smart things. Google glasses have changed the way we see the world. Tesla Motors makes us view ordinary cars as somewhat quaint. Smart technology is something that does more than we thought it could. A smart phone, for example, does not resemble a regular phone. It resembles it as much as Ford pickup truck resembles a Gulfstream G550. True, they can both coast on an open road, but beyond that there is no comparison. In fact, calling a smart phone, a phone is more of a marketing gimmick. It’s a way to get people to buy it. It’s easier to sell the idea of a phone than the idea of a pocket computer. So, smart technology means super functionality. It is easy to use. It requires less brain power than ordinary technology. You need more skills to use a drill than to flip through an iPod. How does this simple definition of “smart,” apply to a smart office? Well, a smart office should have at least two features: One, it should offer more functionality than a regular office. Two, it should be easier to work in than a regular office. It can achieve these two goals through smarter use of the following elements:

  • Technology
  • Integration
  • Lighting
  • Storage
  • Design & Decor

Technology Smart technology is relative. We are not talking about getting a multiprocessor supercomputer, like the Cray X-MP. You may only need sleek laptops or an all-in-one workstation. The best technology, then, is what gets the work done well. Perhaps, the best technology is using the cloud. Perhaps, it is using software that streamlines tasks, reduces costs, and improves workflow. Integration An office is an assemblage of workspaces. For this workspace to be efficient, it has to integrate with the chosen technology. How many outlets do you need? Where should you place them? What is the best way to access your network connectivity? Although these are mundane questions, they determine the level of productivity in the office. Lighting Poor lighting can cause many health problems. According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, poor lighting may cause:

  • Headache and eyestrain
  • Neck, back, and shoulder strain
  • Falling, tripping, and slipping
  • Dropping things
  • Mood disorders like depression

They identified the main causes of lighting problems to be:

  • Insufficient light
  • Glare
  • Improper contrast
  • Distribution
  • Flicker

The solution most offices use for poor lighting are fluorescent lights. But these cause many negative health effects. Health problems include:

  • Migraines
  • Eye strain
  • Insomnia
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Mood disorders
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Poor immune systems

European offices appear to have found the solution: the inclusion of more natural light in the office. This is especially important for people who work in front of a bright computer monitor all day. Using more natural light results in energy saving costs . It also improves the mood, health, and productivity of employees. Storage Without adequate storage, any office will soon become rather chaotic. Smart storage is the use creative strategies to make storage units appear less obtrusive. Essentially, it’s a question of space planning. Design and Decor With smart aesthetics, employees and clients will feel more at ease. Productivity and profits will go up, indirectly. Desks Glass desks add a whole new look to an office. They make everything appear lighter, fluid, and playful. Contrary to popular belief, glass desks are not at all fragile. They are sturdy, will not scratch or burn and they are easy to clean. They are also versatile, for example, you can have large executive desks or small compact desks. You can have desks for places such as meeting rooms to desks for corners, the choice is yours. Depending on the rest of your décor, you can choose between clear glass, white glass, or black glass. Chairs Researchers have found that sitting in a chair can be as hazardous to your health as smoking. Although this may seem like hyperbole, sitting in a chair for long durations can increase the size of the lower half of your body, slow your metabolism down, compromise your heart health, and cause lower back problems. The solution is to replace traditional office chairs with ergonomic office chairs. The result of building a smart office is harmony. All the parts work together in an organic whole. Working in harmony, a company will be more productive and profitable. It will be better prepared to meet future challenges in the business world.  

Sean is a freelance writer and big data expert. He loves to write on big data, analytics and predictive analytics.