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Designing Smart Workplaces in the Middle East is about Giving Users what they Expect

By: Morten Illum, ‎EMEA Vice President at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

Recent research by Google supports a point I have been discussing with customers for many months now; there is no real difference between the user experience and the employee experience any more.

What that means is, if you expect to schedule your Sunday with your mobile phone calendar, upload photos to cloud storage and connect with people using applications, you will expect to do pretty much the same thing on Monday, when you arrive at the office.

In 2018, many of us don’t feel efficient unless we’re able to access applications on demand, and this applies to our work as much as our personal lives. Given we spend as much time in our offices as we do at home, we have to consider how the workplace can become better equipped to meet our daily expectations.

Designing the workplace to better incorporate technology is not about being futuristic. It’s about meeting the minimum requirements that users now have. A business that does not consider how to improve its workplace design to suit our daily habits risks alienating its employees, and ultimately decreasing productivity, losing talent, or both.

Maximising efficiency of space
So how do we go about creating a better workspace? It starts with considering how to make everything more efficient. More efficient tech, more efficient space, more efficient people.

A win-win solution for the business and employee would be if building designers and technology companies collaborated on the designing of new, or redevelopment of, existing buildings.

Working together to create a digital plan of each space, as well as the kind of structural, technical plans traditionally drawn up by those in the industry, could increase the chances of these spaces meeting the needs of its occupants. This could be as simple as re-arranging the furniture to give teams more of a chance to interact, with screens, docking stations and charge points to keep people productive with whatever device they are carrying.

The point is, if these different viewpoints and experiences come together to create ‘smart’ workplaces, the people who work here will also be able to collaborate more – spending less time trying to find cables and connections, and more time getting the job done.

The tech platform to improve productivity
With this design in place, it’s then time to address the technology that can get the best from your workforce. Is it a VR booth or a robot assistant? No. The smart office is about getting the basics right.

Access to a secure, reliable and fast Wi-Fi connection is essential for most job roles and industries now, especially for those who are office-based or working remotely. But if the future workplace is not just connected, but smart, it can become much more personalised for the workers who use it. Having user credentials that are recognised across any location or device, for example, removes the unnecessary task of repeated logins, which over the course of days, weeks and years is an enormous time saver.

Better connection, improved communication
From here, we can start to push the boundaries using IoT. Controlling the heating of a room to your liking using your smartphone, or turning on the coffee machine remotely, are just two examples of a quicker, more personal working environment using technology. This is not only possible, but pretty affordable. And if you want to control a broader range of equipment, we are also seeing plug in multi-sensors entering the market, which use machine learning to identify the signals being sent by any number of electronic devices.

Very quickly, you could be setting up an office with hundreds of devices interlinked, allowing you to better understand how those devices are being used, and create new offerings for your employees. It might sound futuristic, but steps like this are relatively simple and I think, near-term.

As a supplier of business connectivity, our energies are focused on managing, and securing, the explosion of traffic that will come from the digital workplace. For you, the business owner, and the employee, your task is to remove barriers to mobile-friendly working, and gradually create the kind of smart, digital environment that people really want to work in.

-Ends-a

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