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Building Automation for a Flexible Return to the Office

27 Apr 2021

Automated desk and meeting room booking, and the smart office in general, are poised to endow the employer, and its workforce of the future, with the power of choice.

As the world returns to work, demand for flexibility and choice has taken centre stage. The smart office and automated desk and meeting room booking systems help bolster efficiency and support the mounting trend for activity-based working in the flexible workspace.

During a year of unprecedented change, it is not just working habits that have altered. Mind-sets have too.

Employees have begun to demand flexibility around the way they work. This is the result of months of being told not to come into the office and seeing for themselves that most administrative task can be achieved any time, any place, as long as there’s an internet connection.

It all comes down to the power of choice.

Staff now want to work when and where they want, and employers are quickly realising how providing such an accommodating working environment can be advantageous. Because when the work setting suits the task at hand, productivity and creativity are allowed to thrive.

Meeting Room with Smart Meeting Room Management Booking

Activity-based working’ is the label that’s been applied to this work style.

It’s not just about letting people work from home when they feel that would be the best place for the task at hand. Although that does come into it.

More so, it’s about providing the right environment for the right job.

For the office-based, flexible workspace, this means setting out spaces to suit different activity types.

  • Meeting rooms for collaboration
  • Private zones for concentration and contemplation
  • Conference spaces for team-meets
  • Kiosks for quiet calls
  • Shared desks for fluidity

When an office is set up for activity-based working, there is always somewhere staff can go to get the job done efficiently, in whatever they deem the ideal environment.

In the wake of the pandemic, change is inevitable. And when it comes to a change in working habits, it needs to be embraced.

A workforce empowered with flexibility and choice is a happier, healthier, more satisfied and more productive workforce. One that is more likely to stick around for the long haul.

Attracting exceptional talent also becomes all the more straightforward when modern working practices are championed.

The automated office: the perfect support system for activity-based working

There’s no denying that the flexible workspace is going to be crucial to successful employer-employee relationships as the working landscape evolves. However, it’s essential to understand the potential administrative impact and associated operational costs of activity-based working.

Allocating workspaces – especially meeting hubs, conference rooms and desks – can become quite burdensome, eating into valuable time and, therefore, potentially impacting customer service. It is precisely why workplace automation is becoming increasingly attractive and why the ‘smart office’ is set to become the office of the not-too-distant future.

Two key features of the smart office are automated meeting room bookings and desk bookings.

Both have the potential to streamline space allocation and relay precious data that can provide the power to plan ahead. Moreover, the gained intel could allow frequently unused spaces to be converted into breakout zones or meeting spaces.

Automated meeting room bookings

meeting room booking system with tablet and real-time calendarAutomating the meeting room booking process means resolving all those headache-causing challenges that often occur when multiple staff seek space to meet. We’re talking, of course, about those last-minute changes and urgent requests.

Operating in real-time, a smart meeting room booking system shows users what’s free, which features the available rooms have, and whether they’ve been recently cleaned and prepared for use.

It will also flag up when a room is ready for cleaning and sanitisation so that operatives can be summoned to ready it for the next booking.

When you can integrate a smart meeting room booking system with other smart building features, such as contactless access control, visitor management systems and refreshment ordering services, it becomes a very sophisticated platform indeed. This is especially true when you can also limit booking numbers for specific sized spaces to fall in line with COVID-19 social distancing measures.

And there are more benefits. The data collated by an automated room booking system allows under-utilised space to be identified and re-purposed to suit trending needs. So, more usable space and less wasted space.


Automated desk bookings

Desk sharing has been a popular feature of the flexible workspace for a while now. Still, its appeal has skyrocketed since the people-to-space ratio has altered due to the pandemic, with staff working remotely in tranches.

Flexibility, improved use of space, reduced office space costs, easier cleaning and maintenance, and far less clutter are significant advantages of the desk sharing generation.

Desk sharing, or hot-desking, does have its downsides, however.

Desk workstations in the workplace with smart desk booking

It is not always easy to find available spaces for one and keeping track of who is working where and when can be challenging. But there is a solution.

Smart desking makes use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology to manage desk sharing. It’s a sophisticated desk booking system that uses motion detectors, image-based smart sensors or hot-desking device docking stations to feedback desk availability into a central system. This system then allows accessible seats to be booked in real-time, reducing the manual administrative burden for a wholly streamlined booking process.

Smart desking is a powerful system capable of organising hundreds of booking requests in just a few swipes or clicks. Whether controlled by front-of-house or user-managed, it’s about making that all-important freedom of choice so much simpler.

How Smart Spaces is empowering the activity-based working generation

flexible working - desk booking selection and information

Smart Spaces is a secure, cloud-based IoT platform featuring powerful smart desk and meeting room booking modules.

The Smart Spaces Desk Booking System provides fingertip control via an easy to use dashboard built around an interactive office plan with a desk selector. The platform can manage hundreds of bookings from a single hub in just a few swipes or clicks.

Brandable and available as an app for iOS and Android as well as desktop, the module allows preferences to be saved and past bookings to be repeated. It also makes it possible for users to locate colleagues so they can book space nearby for collaboration tasks. Group bookings are also possible, and the desk booker can run alongside other modules, including meeting-room bookings, food ordering and access control.

The Meeting Room Booking System allows direct control via mobile app or desktop, providing an effortless experience for both staff and front-of-house. The real-time calendar view displays available rooms, their characteristics and cleaning status. Outlook calendar integration, multi-functional search filters and pre-meeting food ordering all feature too.

To discover how Smart Spaces could equip your organisation with the power of choice and flexibility by streamlining activity-based working, you are welcome to get in touch or request a demo.

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