Workplace optimisation will help tackle tomorrow’s big risks

Workplace optimisation will help tackle tomorrow’s big risks

What we’ve learned in 2020 about smarter building use won’t be forgotten, writes Phil Campbell, European sales director of Quanika

One of the positive outcomes from 2020, and all its stresses, is that questions around workspace optimisation have risen up the corporate agenda. There is a new awareness that buildings need to be used as efficiently as possible, whether they are part of complex, multi-site enterprises or smaller, more local operations.

In a telling report, JLL and Unwork predict that a number long term trends, coming together, are set to transform the way premises are used, trends including increases in computing power, the spread of IoT devices, ever more effective connectivity and the availability of vast amounts of data. The report paints a picture of a new digital ecosystem and, among other things, predicts that workplaces will increasingly need to provide previously unanticipated value.  

Pressure to reduce property costs is a given, but there are many less obvious reasons why businesses need to optimise their workplaces – less obvious, but equally important. These include enabling innovation, attracting talent, improving employee wellbeing and benefiting from the many intangibles that flow from creating an enhanced workplace experience.

Integrated systems are now an important tool to enable these improvements.

The rise of agile working

Another trend accelerated over the last year is the rise of agile working spaces: environments that offer flexible spaces are becoming increasingly popular because they are designed for new ways of working, while also reducing space costs.

All this make it more important than ever to manage facilities efficiently. It’s recognised that when processes don’t run smoothly – when visitors have trouble finding parking spaces, when employees struggle to book meeting rooms or when contract staff can’t access networks - that impacts employee morale and productivity as well as the visitor experience.

The answer? By encompassing advanced visitor management capabilities, security and building occupancy solutions can now drive new efficiencies and tangible competitive advantage.

Yes, implementing agile working spaces requires a shift in mindset, but the step is a clear and logical one. The technology is now available that can capture and analyse data from multiple systems and devices to provide an overview of workspace usage and, importantly, a deeper understanding of workforce behaviour down to team level.

Futureproof platforms

Access control and video data, desk, lighting, and network sensors can all be integrated into futureproof platforms that will allow organisations to track how different departments and teams use space not just each year or month but day-by-day.  And it’s this aggregated data and business intelligence that will help plan fit outs with the right mix of desks and spaces, giving the ability to track efficiency, to make small incremental adjustments or quickly adapt to new operational demands.

Today’s business landscape is changing rapidly, and in almost every part of the economy we are seeing major challenges and disruptions.

Each business faces its own sector-specific pressures: retailers, most obviously, adapting to the challenges of e-commerce, oil giants facing hefty carbon taxes, the education sector shifting to e-learning, healthcare providers treating increasingly aging populations as well as dealing with major public health crises. And, above all this, organisations are being hit by wave after wave powerful global economic and technological forces, from the shift towards greater sustainability to the rise of artificial intelligence.

But all this disruption doesn’t have to be bad news. Along with all these challenges come very real opportunities.

An opportunity to eliminate silos

Tech savvy organisations know that to evolve and adapt they need to eliminate disparate systems and silos of information, to give them improved insights and decision-making power and to let them better manage staff and facilities.

Just a few years ago it would have been impractical and unaffordable for many businesses to integrate security systems beyond access control, surveillance and intruder, but today they can use the next gen software platforms that make it far more straightforward to connect with an array of security and life safety systems as well as back-office systems and prevalent databases.

And analysis from Data Bridge Market Research released in June backs this up, forecasting the systems integration market to rise an  estimated value of USD 58.73 billion in 2018 to USD 90.82 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 5.6% in the forecast period of 2019-2026.

Enhanced protection and streamlined operations

Even a minimal level of integration, such as pulling together access control and surveillance, makes security and safety operations simpler to operate from a single interface and offers clear advantages and a practical way forward for even for the most complex, multi-location organisation.

But going beyond this, today organisations can benefit from easy, off-the-shelf integration with dozens of building management systems – from elevator controls, fire detection and parking management to asset tracking – and streamline identity management by exchanging data with Microsoft’s Active Directory and other popular databases.

An easy-to-use, centralised system can reduce the burden of ensuring enterprise security from all angles and eliminate the need to deal with repetitive challenges, such as managing and responding to alarms and processing and analysing data from disparate systems.

Integrated solutions also offer remote access capabilities which allow security managers to maintain oversight away from the control room. Single or multiple facilities can be monitored from any location.

Benefits of end-to-end solutions

Assimilating alarms from multiple systems also gives operators improved ability to visually verify notifications and automatically capture events using video. And streamlined reporting gives managers the required intelligence to implement changes quickly. Adopting the latest AI technology will also act as a force multiplier, and integrated solution will increase operational efficiency by allowing security teams to detect, verify and respond quickly and effectively with easy coordination and streamlined processes. 

Next gen software that comes with off-the-shelf integrations is also helping tackle industry specific challenges. In the hospitality sector, for example, forward-thinking hotels can now integrate their front of house and back of house operations using Oracle's OPERA to not only improve efficiency – reducing pressure on busy reception desks by automating aspects of check in and housekeeping, for example – but they can offer guests a significantly enhanced experience, with hassle-free arrivals and departures, and more efficient room service. That gives them a competitive advantage.

Sector specific advantages

In healthcare settings, it’s now much easier to divert medical teams and reallocate resources from hospital to hospital, with integrated systems that allow floating staff to work flexibly wherever they are needed. We’re seeing a growing number of examples of this in action, and seeing how the resulting efficiency is helping healthcare providers manage times of peak demand more efficiently. Ultimately, these solutions make life less stressful for individual medical workers too, making it easier for them to access the right facilities and associated IT systems and networks, even when the location is unfamiliar to them, and cutting down on the effort it takes to get where they are needed.

In sectors from retail, finance and logistics, to manufacturing, integrators and technology vendors are delivering ever more capable, more flexible solutions. And they are making them applicable to for every type of medium-to-large business, from those that operate standalone large buildings and campuses to those with complex, dispersed, and multi-site estates.

Today, scalable, flexible, and futureproof solutions can be adapted to meet new requirements and changing priorities – new functions added for example - with minimal expense and disruption. And today it is faster than ever for engineers to develop new integrations using the latest architectures and APIs. This has reduced the time it takes to satisfy customers’ requests for new integrations from months to weeks.  This means that organisations can move as quickly as they need to by upgrading and scaling systems, to pivot operations and stay fully in control.

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