How Smart Buildings can Positively Influence the Workplace
Smart environments and the smart cities they will make up are the future for urban living, offering improved efficiency and quality of life improvements for the population. Yet their true value lies in the role that they play in improving health and well-being, doing more than making a morning coffee run easier or finding an open parking spot.
Smart Buildings at a Glance
Smart buildings are built on connectivity and efficiency, all systems integrated and working together to streamline whatever is on the network. Automation in these environments is common as systems can be set to regulate certain processes or monitor activities. This is done through the Internet of Things (IoT).
Smart buildings collect data through systems and allow managers to make informed decisions on facilities and systems that directly impact their employees well-being.
Data Collection in Buildings
Collection of data in buildings serves many purposes, but in the case of smart environments it is to make efficient adjustments of systems and processes within the environment to the benefit of the employees and managers. This data is collected and analyzed, with trends or issues extracted from the information.
The collection and storing of data inside these smart environments allow them to learn and grow from their own information, adjusting room temperatures and energy usage while managers can optimize their space based on the data collected.
Advantages to Digital Twins
Digital twins offer digital reflections of the physical world, with data pooled from all connected systems and facilities in the building. In a world prioritizing environmentally friendly solutions and health, optimizing indoor spaces for health and wellness is no doubt at the forefront of employer’s minds.
Digital twins give real-time information on a building’s use and how areas are being used as a result, this collection of information means that constant adjustments to a buildings facilities and maintenance can be made to ensure efficient operations and improvements.
Smart facilities benefit from integration of digital twins or smart facilities as they can regulate their own outputs based on levels set by facility managers. Smart facilities primary function is to ensure consistent, safe outputs while measuring and collecting data on the processes that are occurring within the building.
For example, if a heating system is integrated into a digital twin, not only can it regulate maintenance or output levels but also it can signal to the facilities manager where an issue is located should it arise. Functionalities such as this allow for more efficient maintenance alongside the ability to detect problem areas sooner.
Security and safety are paramount to our day-to-day lives, increasingly so following the pandemic. Security systems as they stand can only benefit from smart integration, minimizing if not negating the chance for human error and compromising a secure system.
Much like heating and other systems, self-regulation of a security system can improve the functionality and safety of a building, particularly following the pandemic. Integration of sensors for temperature, occupancy, and entry scans can protect occupants and employees from sickness.
Health Benefits of Smart Buildings
Health in the workplace is an often-overlooked topic but stands to benefit all those who incorporate it into their building facilities and priorities. Smart systems lend themselves to improving health in several ways, using predictive maintenance coupled with self-regulating outputs they can maintain an optimal environment for health with ease.
Smart buildings maintaining a stable environment for health is the first step in creating a more inviting and safe office for all employees, as those who may have once wished to remain at home for work can be assured that their health and safety is a priority at the office as well.
Ventilation and HVAC are critical components to a buildings overall influence on health. We focus so heavily on conserving the outside air that the air we breathe indoors has taken a backseat and become increasingly stale and stuffy to the detriment of our well-being.
Effective air flow control with good air quality has been shown to increase cognitive function and physical health, as good HVAC systems will filter out any particles in the air and harmful bacteria. Smart ventilation will set systems to a predetermined level and ensure that systems are always running, and should they dip in performance, facilities managers will be informed.
Impacts on Health
Overall health impacts of smart buildings and their integrated facilities range from improved physical health, due to better air flow, temperature control, and lighting, to better mental health as a result of physical well-being and a positive, healthy environment.
By limiting lighting and heat outputs while simultaneously ensuring the HVAC system is functioning as it should, the possibility of an office space harboring that stuffed, humid air that plagues so many buildings is mitigated.
Smart Buildings Shaping the Workplace
Integration of smart systems and the formation of a smart building as a result will begin to shape not only the health of the occupants but also their day-to-day activities and how business operations may be conducted as a result.
Streamlining of business processes using smart buildings can reshape work to be more efficient and productive, manufacturing is one industry that can stand to benefit from smart buildings and smart systems.
Implementation of smart systems in manufacturing highlights where operational inefficiencies lie, and from monitoring of machinery or outputs in certain areas the smart building capabilities of data collection and analytics would display areas that require innovation or change to better suit the business’s needs.
Efficiency in business processes and the systems that make up a business can vastly improve productivity in the workplace. Should an employee want to reserve a meeting room, print documents, or locate supplies, the smart systems and IWMS are available to quickly and efficiently display what is needed, rather than wandering around the office in search of what they need.
In terms of hybrid/flex work, reserving of desks and leisure spaces and seeing who may or may not be at their desk allows for quick and easy transitions between workspaces and finding colleagues should there be a need to.
Management can view the use of rooms, technology, and resources to make judgement calls on investing in extra tech and see if areas are not being used and can be renovated into a more adaptable, used space. Advantages such as this over time would undoubtedly change how our offices look and operate following data analytics to see just how efficient the workplace runs and in what ways it can be optimized.
Smart environments and smart buildings offer many advantages and capabilities to the workplace. Integration of IWMS systems and their connectivity show facilities managers where in the building. The advantages to smart environments and what they can do to not only improve a business but shape how the business operates within the smart building are only just beginning to surface as they become increasingly more popular and researched.