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Much of the discussion on smart buildings has revolved around energy saving, retail opportunities and consumer comfort but the technology exists for businesses to gain greater efficiency, functionality and cost saving, through smarter offices.

The modern workforce will demand, and function best within, such intelligent workspaces. It will therefore be the companies who evolve first who will attract the best talent.

Smart Office

Millennials (the tech-savvy generation, born between the early 1980s and early 2000s), who are already emerging as leaders in technology and other industries and will comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025, want to work for organisations that foster innovative thinking, develop their skills, and make a positive contribution to society, according to a recent study by Deloitte.

“To attract and retain talent, a business needs to show Millennials it is innovative and in tune with their world-view”, said Barry Salzberg, former global CEO, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. “Our society faces many critical issues and it’s become clear no sector should ‘go it alone.’ By working together and combining their different skills, business, governments and non-government organisations (NGOs) have an opportunity to reignite the Millennial generation and make real progress in solving society’s problems”.

“Society’s problems” may revolve around the environment and the lack of basic services for the world’s poorest, and smart building technology can be part of the solution. Energy efficiency in commercial, industrial and residential buildings is the most obvious path to significant reduction in carbon emissions, and with less power required it will be easier to provide for those without basic power-dependant facilities. However, such technology also provides significant cost saving and profitability opportunities for businesses.

Lighting, heating and cooling empty rooms waste a huge amount of energy and costs businesses a significant amount of money. According to the Carbon Trust, lighting costs alone can equal as much as 40% of a business’ overall electricity consumption. A smart workplace can take advantage of natural daylight, automatically turn off lights or tune the air conditioning when rooms are empty or less busy. As a result, energy wastage can be dramatically reduced.

In fact, lighting is set to disrupt the building automation systems (BAS) industry and opens up the possibility for lighting control to play a much more important role in the Internet of Things in Buildings, according to our report Smart Buildings: The Lighting Controls Business.

Smart workspaces also offer a level of functionality that will improve a businesses productivity and creativity, especially for the future workforce – symbolised by the Millennials. Workers are cutting the cords that have tied them to their desks, and better connectivity is facilitating the revolution in collaborative and flexible working.

More automation and coordination will be required to ensure spaces and technologies are equipped for hot desking, remote working and more fluid office structures. When that happens, collaboration becomes much easier, and efficiency will be improved.

The workplace must be a malleable, custom, intuitive, creature that supports this new type of workflow. There is no need to have static furniture and spaces when the world developing within the space is so multifaceted and ever changing. The built environment should respond to this need, just as technology already has. For example, keys and fobs can be replaced by biometrics and smartphones, offering a whole raft of benefits, as explained in a recent Memoori report on the Security Industry.

What is needed is shift from product to service, a service that is provided through smart buildings that are seamless integrated holistic systems. What the building “does” being the value that is sold, not the building itself! We will be discussing these issues in a Free Webinar on Wednesday January 20th with Paul Fletcher an Innovative Design-Thinker & Principal at through… Click Here to Sign Up.

The technology is available, the benefits are increasingly evident, yet the uptake of Building Internet of Things (BIoT) in the commercial office market remains slow, and a lack of “common language” for BIoT technology is being blamed. An intelligent, scalable and simple-to-use language is required to tie all these devices and services together to give the IoT environment a ‘central nervous system’. As new innovative IoT technology floods the market, we must knock down this barrier to unlocking the real value of the IoT.