People are the most important asset for organizations. Without great employees, a company doesn’t stand a chance against its competitors. The knowledge of the processes and systems within the organization, experience in the field, as well as client relationships bring value that simply can’t be replaced.
But even the most hardworking and brightest employees can’t bring in the right results if the environment in the office isn’t stimulating. Poorly designed workplaces, outdated technology, and inflexible working practices can greatly affect the employees. Not only it demotivates them but also decreases their productivity, creativity, and the quality of work.
This is especially important for millennials. The current generation refuses to work for organizations that are stuck in the past. When choosing a job, flexibility is the primary asset, and two in five millennials would quit their jobs over poor workplace technology. 7 in 10 of them are willing to try the top-notch technologies in the workplaces, and more than 70% believe they will be working in smart offices in the next five years.
72% of millennials expect to work in smart offices
Smart Working puts an end to wasteful working practices by exploiting digital technologies and combining them into a united system. It creates a connected and safe workplace that engages employees through emerging collaboration, promotes environmental ethic, and stimulates widespread innovation. The industry promises to be worth $43.31 Billion by 2020, and many startups are tapping into this opportunity, coming up with innovative solutions in several aspects of Smart Working.
From smart buildings to smart canteens
Smart buildings and offices are something that we used to see in movies, but they are finally turning into reality. Technology that we have nowadays allows us to build sustainable and cost-efficient office spaces and creates an enhanced user experience for office workers.
“What if, when you come into the office, you no longer have to adjust the temperature, turn on the lighting, a printer, or even a coffee machine? You walk in, and all the systems and servers around you have already been adapted for you. Smart office is all of the different components of the office working together.”
Pedro Esteves, CTO of Porter, adds that Smart office is the one ready for highly mobile and remote workers.
“More and more millennials are traveling the world and working simultaneously. Offices need to be ready to suit the needs of digital nomads, and the process of booking office space has to be easy and agile. We should be able to fly to a different city and access the office space there at any time of the day.”
This is where Porter comes in. Porter is a smart system that transforms your smartphone into a new digital keychain, replacing all your keys and keycards.
“With Porter, office space managers can maintain control of their doors, create and manage keys through the dashboard, and get notified in real-time when individuals access their space. We help offices and co-working spaces get rid of one of their main pain points, and provide highly mobile and remote workers with an innovative solution.”
Leonardo points out that the world is now mentally ready to replace physical keys with the digital alternative.
“For any startup to succeed, you need to have the right product at the right time. While other companies have tried to open doors with smartphones in 2000-2005, people weren’t mentally there. Now, we all have smartphones. We use them to check our bank accounts, chat with our friends and do business. It would only be logical to also use them to open doors with.”
Although we talk a lot about the future of buildings and offices, we rarely discuss the future of canteens. Jake Manning, CEO of Mahlzeit from our Smart City & Living 2017 class, says that “smart canteen” is a term that hasn’t been invented yet and it is something his team is working on.
“We see a workplace as a habitat, and canteen is a part of that habitat. Lunch is a very important connection point during the day where employees from different departments come together. Smart workplaces need to have smart canteens, and that is what we are working on with Mahlzeit.”
Jake explains that large organizations must have an internal canteen by law. During the peak times, between 12-2pm, employees rush to canteens to get food but have to wait to be served. Mahlzeit helps catering operators and facility managers to optimize crowd flows and get insights into the needs and wants of their customers. At the same time, it helps customers save time in queues.
“Through our app, users can see the best times to visit the canteen to reduce their waiting time. They can also view the menu plan and filter out the food by their dietary requirements and allergies. Catering operators can use this data to learn about their customers and provide better meal options.”
Mahlzeit is also contributing to more sustainable canteens.
“To help canteens save food and support the zero food waste movement, we communicate daily deals through our application. People can come and pick up meals that need to be eaten today for half price.”
Tools for people
Although new technologies are central to Smart Working, people who will be using these innovative solutions should not be forgotten. Startup onh. is focussing on developing smart and tailored tools for people behind the scenes.
Chen Greenfeld, the MarCom Lead for onh., says their company helps everyday people perform their jobs better. With the Startupbootcamp Smart City & Living 2017 program, onh. is working on the acceleration of their platform called Visitt.
“Visitt is a maintenance supervision platform. We provide facility owners with a tool to make sure that their subcontractors or employees are doing the job exactly to their standards.”
onh. at Selection Days
Chen explains that facility management companies normally use big software CRMs that are designed for the higher level of maintenance, and not for the people that are doing the job in the field.
“With our tool, the field inspector can arrive at the site and use our application to check through all of the assets and report issues. We use this data to generate insights and analyze trends. The information is immediately synced with the management side, which means the manager sees exactly what and how the inspector did, and how long it took him.”
Chen doubts that we will ever reach a totally smart future of working.
“I am not sure we will ever reach a point where we can say, that’s it, now we are smart. Technology is constantly reaching new heights, so there will always be something we will aspire to. For us, it is important to keep developing tools that are innovative and powerful, but also simple and intuitive.”