Smart office: exploring workplace apps and visitor management

As hopes rise for a proper return to the office, our latest WORKTECH Wednesday Briefing introduces the WORKTECH Guides to Workplace Apps and Visitor Management, providing a range of solutions for a better work experience

As vaccine trials bring positive news and a way out of the coronavirus crisis appears on the horizon,  attention is now focusing on designing a safe return to the workplace and improving the post-pandemic office experience. People accustomed to a higher degree personal autonomy after several months of working remotely will want to feel a sense of control and a sense of wellbeing when re-entering the work environment.

Companies are now considering a host of new technologies to help manage this process. Two of these, workplace apps and visitor management systems, are featured in two new vendor reports from WORKTECH Academy, which are published this week.


The WORKTECH Guide to Workplace Apps looks at the development of mobile applications and their introduction to the workplace. It considers the benefits of implementing an office app, gives detailed descriptions of 15 major providers and analyses the features of each solution. Workplace apps with the potential to personalise the office experience are now rising up the corporate agenda.

The WORKTECH Guide to Visitor Management, provides an overview of the most prominent providers of visitor management systems in the industry today and describes key features. It describes how the race for talent and the safety considerations of Covid-19 have put greater emphasis on creating the right impression and on managing people inside the building.

These latest WORKTECH Guides are part of a series of industry research reports focused on critical areas of the smart workplace. The WORKTECH Guide to Utilisation Technology was published in September 2020; two further WORKTECH Guides focusing on Workplace Innovation and Resource Management will be published in early 2021.


Together, the five Guides will profile more than 100 different vendors and products operating in the smart office sphere. The market for new technologies can be complex and bewildering for businesses and corporate landlords to negotiate – each WORKTECH Guide provides an accessible and non-technical overview of the subject area and provides analysis of key solutions on the market.

Transforming the workplace

Elsewhere in the world of workplace technology, things are moving fast as company resistance to investment in new systems and solutions dissolves amid the shake-up of the pandemic. The BBC reports that technology giant Microsoft has filed a patent for a system to monitor employees’ body language and facial expressions during work meetings, and give the events a ‘quality score’.

Details of the patent suggests that the sensor-driven system could be deployed in real-world meetings or online virtual get-togethers. In principle, it could give business leaders an insight into patterns of collaboration and interaction inside their organisation, but critics say it raises concerns over privacy at work and is effectively an employee-surveillance tool, according to the BBC.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that virtual reality (VR), once the preserve of gamers, has been seized on by the financial sector as a way of enlivening home working for lonely traders or isolated executives and replicating real-world sales, networking or training events.

‘VR was once the preserve of gamers – now it has been seized on to enliven home working…’

With 90 per cent of employees at some of the world’s biggest financial firms now working at home due to a second peak in coronavirus infections, more and more companies are experimenting with VR, among them Fidelity International, UBS and Deloitte.

Recreating the feeling of human interaction is what has provided impetus for the VR push. At a time when financial executives are combating so-called Zoom fatigue, brought on by a daily barrage of video conferences, meetings and messaging, the advantage of wearing a VR headset is that it allows the user to see and interact with others in the same digital room.

Clearly, technology solutions that were not part of the workplace just a few months ago are now set to speed its transformation.

In our WORKTECH Wednesday Briefings, we reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors while WORKTECH’s professional conference series continues through our virtual platform during the pandemic. This edition is posted 2 December 2020.
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