Smart working: can building intelligence offer a route out of crisis?

As companies struggle with a welter of post-pandemic priorities, data-driven smart buildings can provide a platform for the future of work, according to a new report from Schneider Electric and UnWork

Smart buildings which leverage cutting-edge technologies such as the Internet of Things, Big Data and intelligent software will enable companies to withstand major shocks to the workplace system, such as the coronavirus pandemic, in a more dynamic and agile way.

That is the key message of a new report, Smart Working: Smart Buildings and Future of Work, launched this summer by global energy management and automation specialist Schneider Electric in partnership with consulting firm UnWork.

Model for outcomes

Schneider and UnWork looked at the latest advances in smart building intelligence, jointly developing a new outcome-oriented model to assess how smart a building truly is. The model, entitled Activ8, has eight components:

Insightful: Smart buildings provide actionable insights into how a building is operating.

Sustainable: Smart buildings enable facilities managers to easily monitor and control the performance of the buildings against their sustainability strategies.

Flexible: Smart buildings are better able to accommodate agile, dynamic models of work.

Experiential: Office users have greater control over their environment and can tailor comfort levels to their personal preference using their mobile devices.

Healthy: Smart buildings monitor health-related factors like CO2 levels, VoC (volatile organic compounds), noise levels and humidity.

Productive: Smart buildings facilitate more effective use of space to prompt better engagement from staff, in turn boosting their productivity.

Efficient: Smart buildings meet the needs of their stakeholders in a hyper-efficient way and transform a company’s real estate into an enabler of business growth.

Resilient: In a smart building, all systems are flexible enough to react in near-real time to the complex set of conditions, ensuring resilience to threats.

The advantages offered by smart buildings are especially relevant in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic as organisations look to provide more flexibility and wellbeing for their employees while maintaining business efficiencies and reducing their carbon footprint.

The Smart Working report goes on to look at the steps needed to specify, procure and commission a smart building effectively. As it observes: ‘The experience of building users is personalised to their individual preferences; and real-time data is captured on the performance of the building and its work spaces – essential in the post-pandemic world in which we now exist.’

Smart Working: Smart Buildings and Future of Work, a report from Schneider Electric and UnWork, is published by WORKTECH Academy. You can access the report here.

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