Facility leaders share their thoughts on what to expect this year and beyond
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Authored by John Wright, Industry Leader – Retail, SALTO Systems
As companies navigate a hybrid return to the office, they look for new ways to add flexibility and support for their current and future workforce. A few growing trends have emerged as impactful technologies design elements that experts feel will become staples to achieving the ultimate future-proof innovative workplace.
Companies have to be nimble and adapt to the needs of their employees more now than ever. The past few years have awarded the workforce tremendous flexibility as most of them operate their daily duties from home. In turn, that flexibility has become an expectation among today's workers. A recent article written by Lucas Mearin titled “Apple employees revolt against mandatory back-to-work policy” pieces together how Apple's workforce vehemently opposes a mandatory in-office policy. As many business entities have faced strong opposition to such mandates, Apple is not alone. Companies are left with the challenging task of getting their employees back into the workplace, and so far, incentivizing them is the only employee-approved method.
The reconfiguration and design of such spaces are crucial to enticing workers back into the office, and many firms are leaning on the past success seen in co-working environments. Designs that incorporate large flexible shared spaces are a must in this environment. The integration of access, timekeeping, meeting scheduling, and visitor management are just a few technologies today's companies must incorporate.
Access control to shared spaces has long been a staple used in coworking design, but the technologies are also growing heavily into the corporate strategy. It is vital to allow employees or guests to access a building, meeting room, desk space, and onsite storage. Access manufacturers like SALTO Systems have long been designing solutions to incorporate these technologies into their hardware and software. Recently SALTO produced some unique tools in their software to allow users to invite guests into their shared spaces. With tools like this, users have the flexibility and control needed to operate shared spaces independently without compromising security. This type of service is a must for the returning workforce.
The standard access control model has also changed in the past few years from what was once a bulky on-premises managed infrastructure to what is now a quick, globally accessible web-based cloud system. This singular change has gifted companies the flexibility to apply smaller satellite offices for a fraction of the cost with zero loss in security. It has also eliminated costly infrastructure installation throughout a building, negating the need to wire every access point. SALTO Systems has also been a pioneer in this wireless technology with their hardware and software like SALTO KS or keys as a service, a straightforward, scalable, and flexible cloud-based intelligent access solution. Plug and play systems with easily integrated software like KS play a pivotal role in the smart building infrastructure and are vital in building an employee-powered ecosystem.
“Smart Lockers Systems are vital in the hybrid workplace model. They help employers reduce the fixed overhead cost by making better use of dynamic workspaces” - Brian Lovrin, Gantner
Brian Lovrin, a coworking and corporate solution expert with a lead technologies provider (Gantner), said, “Smart Lockers Systems are vital in the hybrid workplace model. They help employers reduce the fixed overhead cost by making better use of dynamic workspaces”. Onsite storage and intelligent parcel hubs are, in fact, growing technologies that allow employees to move frictionlessly from home office to shared space. It is a self-sustaining tool that improves the employee experience, which leads to better recruitment and retention of employees. It also supports the need for agile working practices by removing the need to move your home office to and from anytime you wish. The technology goes a step further as it allows you to use your smartphone to open the door, grab a locker, desk space, or office, and remain 100% secure while doing it.
Brian is an expert in implementing solutions throughout North America and has seen the direct effect on these spaces and those who use them. Brian added, "The physical workplace is not going away, but ever-changing. The same goes for smart lockers, where flexibility is key. Lockers can be selected daily, shared with colleagues, and assigned to visitors by day or by week for contractors. To distribute internal mail, hold private parcels or IT equipment exchange with full traceability”. The growth of intelligent lockers being used as logistical hubs within a shared space has exploded. Almost every business type in every vertical has plans to initiate a logistical hub within its design. We see them pop up in every large retail chain as a streamlined merchandise pickup. Smart hubs allow businesses or shared building entities to distribute and deliver packages seamlessly. They are now being used to provide food and grocery pickup in shared large building formats, which further adds to the user empowerment. Perks like this save the workforce even more time and helps incentivize users to visit the office by allowing them to conquer more tasks in a single visit.
Workplace management platforms are the foundation for today's hybrid office. The switch from assigned seating formats to hot-desking/hoteling workspaces is a transition model backed by powerhouse technology like the CXApp by inpixon. The ability to create intelligent, innovative and connected workplaces is what companies like inpixon do. The CXApp, known as Inpixon Experience, gives employees the tools to thrive, remain engaged, and connect with colleagues while boosting productivity in their preferred working environment. It has powerful embedded tools that help users pull all the technology together straightforwardly: Reserve a desk, office, or conference room. View maps and finds amenities, including local transportation, overnight stays, and dining options.
Regardless of the technology a corporate entity chooses to partner with, one trend agreed upon is that the hybrid office model is here to stay.