The Smart Office 2021: Emerging trends and technologies

In 2020 even the less tech-savvy companies had to adapt to new technologies in order to stay in the game, as video conferences and home offices became the new norm. These new and unexpected challenges have forced companies to look towards new and more creative methods of problem solving in the new year. 

In 2021, companies will have to employ even more technical advances in order to achieve an office space that is not only smart, but is able to cope with the sometimes instant changes in rules and regulations, in order to maintain a productive and safe work environment. 

The 5G network 

More than ever, the 2021 company needs reliable internet connectivity and an increase in bandwidth to operate successfully. Whether you’re working from home or from the office, the ability to carry out seamless conference calls and online presentations will continue to be a vital part of internal communication as well as customer relations.

5G is on the horizon and is expected to be a major upgrade from the current 4G signal, cutting down on downloading time from minutes to seconds. Forbes predicts that this will be a game changer regarding the technological potential for creativity in online meetings. New online meeting technologies, such as augmented or virtual reality, will be possible, as there will be little to no lag.

Internet of Things 

Twenty-twenty was marked by a steep increase in the development and utilization of IoT. A poll by Vodafone shows that 84% of the companies asked, believed IoT to be a key aspect in maintaining their businesses during the pandemic. 

For most people, IoT has already touched their personal lives with gadgets such as smartwatches and smartphones. These devices have the capacity to generate data and insights that benefit both the customer and the producer.

In the same way, IoT can be used in the business world as they can record and transfer data, which allow companies to monitor important processes and use this information to boost productivity and make informed changes to their business strategies. 

Vodafone argues that IoT is no longer just about saving the business money, but is able to change the way they think, as well as the way they operate. In this way, IoT allows companies to ‘future-proof’ their business model, making them more flexible and resilient. The IoT market is predicted to grow in value to $520 billion in 2021, which is more than a 100% rise from 2017. 

Smart office 2021

Cyber security

On another note, the past year has also seen a steep rise in cyber attacks. Forbes reports a 600% rise in attacks on cloud servers in the first quarter of 2020 alone. As more people are working from home, and therefore no longer working on the same secure network, companies will have to invest more in upgrading their strategies in dealing with cyber attacks. 

Flexible work spaces 

The home office or flexible work spaces will continue to be a reality for the foreseeable future, with major companies, such as Google, extending their work-from-home policy to June 2021. 

According to Forrester’s predictions, some companies will choose to give up corporate office spaces completely, and have their employees work from home permanently. However, Forrester suggests that 80% of companies will return to the office with extensive return-to-work strategies, to ensure their employees the best working conditions moving forward. 

These strategies will include IoT applications such as smart lighting and sensor enabled space utilization. Activities in the office will be monitored in high traffic areas in order to ensure the safety of the workers, and cleaning and social distancing will continue to be a priority.

Smart Office 2021

Indoor navigation  

When workers return to the office buildings ‘work bubbles’ of ten to thirty people can be an effective way to ensure social distancing, and minimise the chances of a major company-wide outbreak. The logistics of social distancing can be managed effectively by utilising smart office initiatives such as indoor navigation technology. This technology allows companies to allocate separate areas to the individual work bubbles, as well as tracking data about the amount of people present in the building, and which desks and meeting rooms are in use.  

With MapsIndoors all of the office’s needs with regards to managing a secure work environment will be connected in one place, as it is able to be integrated into almost any third-party data systems. Thereby, it is easy to collect all data in one place, making employee safety management and the tracking of exposure simple and accessible.  

If you want to know more about how indoor navigation technology can help your business through the ever-changing circumstances of 2021, download our guide: “How to Adapt Your Office to 2020 Challenges”

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