Global attitudes towards work have changed significantly in recent years, from the rise of alternative working models such as hybrid and remote roles to increasingly loud calls for shortened work weeks and a re-examination of traditional pay structures, a clear emphasis is placed on employee experience.
Data suggests that there is good reason for these developments, with research finding happy workers may be around 13% more productive, notably less likely to leave their positions, and measurably more motivated than comparable staff members who do not feel satisfied within their roles, clearly displaying the mutual benefits of improving employee experiences for both workers and business owners alike.
So, how can employers enact meaningful change to facilitate workplace positivity? One proven method is to provide staff with appropriate tools and technologies to support their work, with 73% of workers claiming they know of solutions that could improve their workplace that their employers are not currently exploring. With this in mind, here’s how the new ‘smart office’ is revolutionizing employee experience.
What is employee experience?
Before exploring how smart office technologies are positioned to markedly improve the employee experience, it’s wise to outline exactly what is meant by the term. Typically, employee experience refers to a summary of all workplace-related actions, feelings, and observations made by staff members during their time working for a specific employer, often including environmental and managerial factors.
A positive employee experience is generally considered one in which staff are trusted to perform their roles, respected in their work, and appropriately supported with reliable technologies and considered managerial policies designed to provide a convenient and low-stress professional work environment.
With regard to technology, modern employees should be provided with tools capable of improving workplace efficiency and ensuring they feel part of a team. These technologies should protect staff from both physical harm and cybersecurity threats as well as devices intended to facilitate a more convenient and positive environment, one that’s conducive to high-performing teams.
Smart access control
One of the most apparent ways to improve employee experience with the aid of smart technology is to upgrade existing access control devices to both improve on-site security and provide staff with a more convenient way to access core facilities. In a smart office, typically employers will choose to leverage touchless and cloud-based solutions, as these tools can be easily integrated with wider systems.
Touchless or mobile access control devices remove the risks associated with physical credentials like traditional keys, proximity cards, and fobs by issuing staff with unique digital permissions sent directly to their personal smart devices, preventing intruders from simply stealing credentials to gain office access.
Developing such a system means employees will no longer be required to carry cumbersome physical credentials, can easily navigate the office without needing to physically interact with installed readers, and (via integrations with existing scheduling systems) will be able to book facilities from their smart devices.
Additionally, smart access control systems are well suited to offices engaged in hybrid and flexible work models as staff can manage their own property access throughout the day with security teams able to view, adjust, and revoke permissions remotely without needing to be physically present at all times.
Automated security systems
A further way to facilitate a positive employee experience is to ensure that staff feel safe and secure during working hours through the development of reliable automated physical security systems. Data suggests that 83% of employees feel instances of physical crime have increased in recent years, with 39% claiming to be significantly concerned about their own physical safety whilst in the workplace.
To lessen these fears and allow employees the freedom to focus more intently on their duties, smart office design will often leverage remote access and cloud-based systems to create automated responses to common threats. The core component of such networks will be a cloud-based security management platform used to combine the operation of all installed devices and allow each tool to inform the next.
For example, video security cameras can be fitted with AI-informed object detection software capable of identifying the presence of weapons and contraband items. If a threat is detected, connected door locks and alarm systems will engage automatically with a notification immediately sent to security personnel.
Cloud-based business security systems can be tailored directly to the unique needs of each office, meaning employers should carefully consider which technologies are likely to be most beneficial to their staff. This may mean determining whether to install fail secure vs fail safe locking systems or if AI security cameras are appropriate, though ultimately a bespoke system will improve employee experiences.
Intelligent HVAC units
Modern smart office design doesn’t only concern the strengthening of on-site security systems, in fact, there are a number of intelligent technology integrations available to employers designed to markedly optimize physical work environments. By leveraging a combination of Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices within a wider cloud-based management platform, adaptive HVAC systems can be developed.
IoT motion, climate, and occupancy sensors can be installed throughout the office environment and used to automatically inform the operation of all installed heating, lighting, and air conditioning units. This allows for a smart office space in which the climate is continuously controlled and kept within optimal bounds to ensure that all employees are able to remain comfortable and fully focused during working hours.
IoT occupancy sensors can also help employers and staff to improve workplace productivity metrics. By applying data analytics programs to information gleaned from installed occupancy sensors, HR teams can learn how the office space is typically used by employees and apply this information to internal scheduling systems to ensure that all staff members always have access to necessary facilities and equipment.
In addition, the operation of smart HVAC systems can help business owners dramatically reduce the energy waste associated with normal office use. Research indicates that 40% of a typical office’s energy bill can be attributed to poorly optimized HVAC systems, but by upgrading existing units to be controlled by IoT sensors, energy waste can be reduced by up to 68% resulting in cost savings of as much as 60%.
Career development programs
Alongside intelligent hardware devices, carefully considered software solutions are often integral to the successful operation of a smart office. Numerous studies show how important career progression and skill development are in terms of retaining high-performing staff and improving employee experiences, with 87% of millennials claiming these factors to be important in a professional capacity and 45% of workers overall stating they’d remain at a company for longer if learning and development opportunities were offered.
Utilizing a combination of data analytics programs and smart software solutions, HR teams are able to develop internal systems designed to monitor each employee’s output and highlight certain skills that individuals may benefit from improving. Personalized learning management programs can then be devised to ensure that all members of staff are appropriately supported in terms of personal development.
These same systems can also be deployed to create virtual employee recognition programs to help foster a positive workplace culture built around rewarding high-performing team members for their efforts, again acting to improve employee experiences by ensuring that staff feel supported and engaged in their roles.
As attitudes towards work continue to change and smart technologies become more advanced, more businesses appear to be focusing on improving employee experiences in order to attract and retain high-performing teams. By investing in smart office technology, employers can ensure that staff feel appropriately supported, protected, and engaged in their roles to facilitate a positive work environment.
Businesses should consider developing a more convenient and secure access control system, improving on-site security via automated incident responses, and providing staff with a more comfortable workplace through the creation of IoT-enabled HVAC systems. Coupling these technologies with intelligent software solutions designed to provide career development and learning opportunities will help to further support workers in their roles, demonstrating how the new smart office is revolutionizing the employee experience.