When you think about a smart office, what do you first bring to mind?
Chances are, it’s open-plan layouts with plenty of natural light swimming in. The opposite of a sterile cubicle farm, in fact, somewhere you can work peacefully and productively with plenty of home comforts.
What about the tech underpinning it, though?
What exactly makes up a smart office as we approach 2020?
Well, it’s not a single element, but a combination of factors layered on top of each other. From convenience and time-saving to security and comfort, a smart office should also be energy-efficient and completely connected.
What we’re offering with these steps is a general blueprint to spark your creativity, personalize things, and get the office you need.
10 Steps To A Smart Office
- Mesh WiFi Network
- Smart Climate Control
- Smart Locks To Streamline Access
- Go Elite With Ring Doorbell
- Motion Sensors
- Smart Lighting For Increased Productivity
- Smart Outlets for Task Lighting
- Echo or Google Home Devices
- Wireless Charging Pads
- Self-Watering Planters
With multiple users, connected devices everywhere, and the need for a robust Internet connection at all times, mesh WiFi networks make for a great investment.
Without a solid foundation in place, any other attempts you make to implement smart solutions are likely to run into interference.
Google WiFi is just one of many mesh networks you can create bypassing the standard router.
Although this solution is designed for home use, investing in the 3-pack is also a smart bet for your office. You’ll get blanket coverage over 4500 square feet without those tiresome flat spots and dead zones.
Network Assist technology baked in ensures all devices are optimized with no user input required.
It goes unsaid that you will need a robust internet package to accompany these nifty nodes. As long as you make provision for that, you’ll ensure that the office has the bandwidth even for heavy lifting. Go mesh and you won’t go back!
GLAS Smart Thermostat
Just like in your connected home, automated heating and cooling at work is a must.
Imagine the chaos if you had physical controls and everyone was vying for their own personal temperature preference.
Johnson Controls GLAS Smart Thermostat might not be cheap, but this intelligent climate control system will repay the investment tenfold if you install it in your offices.
Basic scheduling through 7 days is a cinch. You can get the basic framework in place then let the device optimize things for maximum energy-efficiency. Don’t forget, a truly smart office should also reduce your eco-footprint.
Compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant, you’ll enjoy superb interoperability with a suite of other smart devices, too.
Insteon Remote Wall Thermostat
You’ll need to invest in the Hub Central Controller and an Echo or Google Home device for voice control. You can also take charge in-app on your smartphone or from a controller. When it comes to taking charge, Insteon serves up a plethora of options to suit everybody.
These Insteon thermostats come in a pack of four, which is perfect for even sprawling offices. They’re cut out to play nicely with just about any heating or cooling system including more complex multi-stage set-ups.
So, now you have a dependable WiFi network in place and reliable climate control in place.
Well, convenience is key in the workplace.
Despite stiff competition in a crowded vertical, our personal favorite remains the Ultraloq.
You’ll be able to operate this lock using an array of entry methods. You can store up to 95 fingerprints allowing all workers to come and go without needing to remember codes or think about keys. You can also set and distribute up to 95 security codes of 4 to 8 digits. This is class-leading storage trumping the opposition and rendering Ultraloq the ideal commercial solution.
The fully waterproofed and rugged body won’t let you down when it counts. The battery is good for a year or so of use, equating to roughly 8000 accesses. There’s even a mechanical key as a back-up, so you’ll never get locked out.
Say goodbye to clusters of keys and say hello to a truly smart entrance.
Ring’s line-topping Video Doorbell Elite model is approaching double the price of the Video Doorbell Pro, so what do you get for that extra money?
The main selling point that differentiates this model is the Power over Ethernet that gives you more stability than you could get from a wireless connection.
You’ll be able to keep a close eye on all comings and goings at your place of business with footage captured in 1080p high-def. You can completely customize motion zones with the Elite. Focus on what counts and keep your business secure around the clock.
If you’re closed on weekends or evenings and you happen to get some visitors, you’ll simply get an alert pinged to your cellphone of choice so you won’t miss any potential business.
And beyond all this, during the course of a working day, you can stay in closer control over who enters the building without constantly heading to the door.
You can build out an array of motion sensors in any office so that other devices can be triggered as soon as movement is detected.
With sensors in place, you’ll also benefit from the data you can collect, which will help you to achieve greater energy-efficiency than ever moving forward.
The Insteon Motion Sensor II is a great solution if you’re already invested into the mighty Insteon system. This upgraded sensor comes with improved wireless performance, which is ideal for larger offices. It also comes with a more compact design, which is great if you already have a cluttered environment to contend with.
Flexibility is one of the primary benefits of an Insteon system and you’ll be able to build it out reliably over time. Don’t forget, too, the more devices you add to Insteon’s dual-mesh network, the stronger and more dependable it becomes.
Get creative with sensors and embrace the ethos of a smart office.
Using LEDs throughout has been shown in studies to more than just save money. Getting the lighting right can dramatically improve productivity and overall mood.
You can take things one step further in a commercial backdrop with biodynamic lighting, also known as human-centric lighting. HCL rolls out lighting in the workplace based on the body’s natural circadian rhythms and this can be easily manipulated remotely.
If that sounds like a bridge too far, regular smart lighting can help slash energy costs while also perking up your workers.
Smart plugs allow you to plug in any old dumb appliance and immediately enjoy remote control. You generally won’t need a hub and these outlets come into their own with lamps.
Often, overhead lighting in an office won’t give you the intense lighting or the angles you need for some more intricate work. With smart outlets, you can add in your lamp of choice and you won’t need to keep hitting the switch. Especially when you can take control from your phone!
Smart plugs can also be used to remotely control fans, portable AC units or any other small appliances you might have at work.
You’ll likely have your preferred digital assistant and it’s probably Alexa or Google Assistant.
Don’t overlook the importance and usefulness of a few smart speakers and smart displays throughout the office.
From a day-to-day organization through to functioning as a de facto intercom when required, an Echo or Google Home speaker comes with a broad spread of applications.
You’ll also, of course, be able to build these portals into your ecosystem and enjoy hands-free control of other compatible devices.
If you’re unsure which makes the best fit, check out our study of Google Home vs Amazon Echo to help you decide.
With wireless charging becoming the norm, why not place some wireless charging pads throughout the offices?
Especially if you have workers often out on the road, make your smart office like a landing pad so they’ll always head out the door with their devices juiced up.
Check out this selection of charging pads and see which would look best in your office.
And, to round out, here’s something in the true spirit of automation.
If you want the advantage of some greenery in the offices, but you never seem to remember to water the plants, you should consider some self-watering pots.
You’ll generally need to manually water the plants for the first 3 months to get them started. Once they’ve taken root, all you need to do is top up the water reservoir and it will be intelligently dispensed as required.
One of our own favorites is this 8-inch pot perfect for succulents and window plants.
Well, you should now have a decent overview of some practical and actionable ways to bring your office into the twenty-first century.
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