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How Smart Office Buildings Help Modern Knowledge Workers Succeed

For knowledge workers, autonomy and innovation are key.

Architects, engineers, accountants, lawyers, editors: What do they all have in common? These professions are known as “knowledge workers,” meaning their main capital is their knowledge of their particular subject or profession. The term was originally coined by educator and author Peter Drucker, who in 1999 wrote “The most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st century is similarly to increase the productivity of knowledge work and knowledge workers.”

Over two decades later, Drucker’s words ring true; there are over one billion knowledge workers globally, and their success hinges on Drucker’s principles: Knowledge workers require autonomy, innovation, continuous learning, and continuous teaching. Smart office buildings are ideal workspaces for these professionals; in this article, we’ll explore how smart office buildings make knowledge workers more productive.

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What are smart office buildings?

Smart office buildings provide autonomy

Smart office buildings minimize distractions

Smart office buildings prioritize safety & wellness

Get smart

What are smart office buildings?

Smart office buildings are workplaces that utilize modern technology to create an intelligent digital environment running parallel to the physical office space. Incorporating cloud computing, AI, augmented reality, and the Internet of Things are just a few ways to create these spaces, with the end goals being to reduce operational costs and improve worker productivity. Smart office buildings can be designed that way from the ground up or retrofitted to incorporate newer technology.

Most businesses would benefit from smart office buildings, but knowledge workers are especially well suited for this kind of environment. Smart office buildings allow employees to focus on their work while making day-to-day activities more intuitive and easier to navigate.

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Smart office buildings provide autonomy

Going back to Drucker’s principles about knowledge workers, you’ll notice autonomy is a high priority. Knowledge workers prefer to determine their own schedules and prioritize tasks as they see fit, rather than needing constant check-ins and micromanagement from superiors (who are likely also knowledge workers). In a post-pandemic world, this also means being able to work remotely as needed while still being welcome in the physical office.

Smart office buildings encourage the kind of self-guidance knowledge workers desire by automating processes and intuitively assisting each employee in their preferred work style. Take the Edge, an Amsterdam office space called “the smartest building in the world.” At the Edge, about 2,500 workers share 1,000 desks — and it’s somehow not chaotic at all. The building has 28,000 sensors working together, and an app first directs workers to available parking spots and then to desks that are customized for their preferences.

Technology like that at the Edge and other smart office buildings allows knowledge workers to manage themselves. That kind of environment is exactly what they need to thrive; the smarter the building, the easier it is to self-manage.

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Smart office buildings minimize distractions

According to Drucker, “The first requirement in tackling knowledge work is to find out what

the task is so as to make it possible to concentrate knowledge workers on the task and to eliminate everything else — at least as far as it can possibly be eliminated.”

Think about how often core tasks are interrupted by other aspects of the job: scheduling, meeting with clients, rearranging inflexible workspaces to best suit your needs. Even poor lighting can be a distraction; according to Corporate Wellness Magazine, “Reduced exposure to natural light at work may cause fatigue, moodiness, headaches, and even sleep disturbances. These not only compromise productivity but also lead to long-term health problems including depression and cognitive decline.”

Beyond comfort and scheduling, smart offices can handle things like predictive maintenance, data monitoring and analysis, AR tutorials, and more. By using AI and machine learning to turn your office building into an intelligent digital workspace, you’re setting knowledge workers up for success by keeping unnecessary diversions to a minimum.

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Smart office buildings prioritize safety & wellness

When it comes to employee wellness, better lighting is just the tip of the iceberg. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s still raging around the world, health and safety initiatives have become more serious priorities in shared workspaces. Smart office buildings facilitate wellness in many ways, from reminding knowledge workers to take breaks to assigning optimal seating arrangements that encourage social distancing. Considering that smart buildings that prioritize employee well-being can improve productivity by 37%, it’s not hard to see why smart building upgrades are a worthwhile investment for building managers and business owners, particularly those who employ knowledge workers.

According to a recent survey of 1,000 knowledge workers, 65% believe employee mental health and wellness in the office are shared responsibilities of the worker and company. Considering the knowledge workers are contributing heavily to the Great Resignation and are in high demand right now, business owners who want to attract and retain high-value talent need to keep wellness in mind in order to remain competitive.

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Get smart

In addition to increasing worker productivity, smart office buildings also contribute to higher tenant satisfaction and enhanced property value. Fortunately, it’s not necessary to strip everything down to the studs in order to create this sort of intelligent workspace. By partnering with the right computer vision enterprise platform, you can modernize your existing building in a way that promotes productivity while also delivering ROI.

If you’re not sure where to get started, Resonai can help! Vera, our proprietary smart building platform, can transform any space into an intelligent, intuitive digital ecosystem. Better yet, it doesn’t require external hardware or sensors, and Vera also allows building managers to simplify IoT systems with a single app. If you’re ready to boost your knowledge workers’ productivity and help them on the path to success, get in touch to set up a free demo!

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