Intentional IT: making tech work for a human-centric workplace

Will emerging technologies improve or remove human connection? Cordless Consultants explores the impact of the rise of smart technology and how technology will have to become more intentional in 2022

Smart building and workplace technologies are constantly evolving with increasing functionality to improve experience, safety, sustainability and productivity. But, as technology becomes increasingly intelligent and prevalent, there is a danger of it becoming surreptitiously obtrusive. This potentially damages the balance of a healthy focus on the ‘here and now’ experience of real life and connections with other people.

Aspirations for technology

The current aspirations for technology in the workplace centre around three core factors:

Safety – We want tech that helps us get to where we’re going. We want to be able to get securely into our buildings, work in a clean environment with good social distancing, clean air, optimal lighting, reduced noise distraction and ergonomic furniture.

Productivity and experience – We want to provide amazing spaces that attract people, showcase our brand identities and deliver a great experience. We need tech to help us work together creatively when we need to. We need to be able to find people and services quickly and easily. Tech needs to be easy to use and provide seamless connectivity as we move between spaces. We need digital inclusion and equality for users when we connect, regardless of location.

Efficiency and sustainability – We need data to make informed decisions. We want control of our environments. We want a flexible, future-proof infrastructure to cope with changes. We need energy efficiency and intelligent, intuitive system management.

All of this is possible in the age of the Smart Building. It’s how we go about managing this as our ‘anything goes’ experimental attitude during the pandemic evolves to a new paradigm in the world of work.

Setting boundaries

Every business is busy recrafting its spaces from the ‘art of the possible’ into business as usual and there is so much that we can do technically. As we journey further into our post-pandemic working lives, we must think carefully about how technology can support us – so that it is pervasive, not invasive. Setting boundaries, processes and expectations is important to allow people to be the architects of their own experience – with technology giving us pleasure, not pain.

Bridging the skills gap

To deliver against the goal of technology being an enabler in the age of smart, we are also seeing a renewed focus of the role of the ‘Head of Workplace’ – their skillset evolving to blend formally disparate responsibilities such as technology, HR and real estate management. The need for data scientists is also exploding, to enable the management of intelligence for business value.

‘Setting boundaries, processes and expectations is important to allow people to be the architects of their own experience’

Over the course of the past year, our industry, like others, has not been immune to supply chain issues. But with many of the construction, fitout and refurbishment projects that we work on being years in the planning, change and challenge is inevitable. Which is why first-rate project managers that orchestrate delivery of the overarching technical design and strategy will never go out of fashion.

Keeping the spotlight on the balance of a healthy relationship between workplaces and technology, we move ahead this year optimistic that by asking the right questions and encouraging the right behaviours, we don’t need to fear the robots taking over.

Beverley Eggleton is marketing manager of workplace technology specialist Cordless Consultants, Technology Partner of WORKTECH Academy. To discuss smart building design, contact the Cordless team here.
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