Monday, September 24, 2018Canada's Leading Online Business Magazine

Fit for the Future

Six Ways to Make Your Workplace Smarter

1. Devices Designed for Collaboration

When you’re standing at the front of the boardroom, the pressure is on. In 2017, there is no time or reason for the added stress of technical issues. A smart workplace has technology that makes your work simpler. This includes fully integrated audio and video conferencing in collaboration spaces that is set up for today’s BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) requirements.

Today’s conference rooms are best equipped with simplified collaboration systems for easy operation, for example, tools like Crestron’s Mercury or the Polycom Trio allow presentations, conference calls and project collaboration to become a breeze. Systems like this allow integration of key web-based collaboration software, such as Skype for Business, GoToMeeting, WebEx, BlueJeans and many more. Additionally, these systems have an add-on that allow for the management of meeting room schedules, enabling companies to collect valuable information on room and asset usage.

If your office might prefer a touchscreen option, the long-awaited Microsoft Surface Hub is a great all-in-one collaboration tool. The Surface Hub allows users to create and brainstorm with others, both in person and via remote access. It allows full integration of Office 365, Skype for Business and any other program your team might typically use on any other device. In addition to this, the Surface Hub is equipped with the ability to track engagement and user interaction, so you can monitor the success of your seminars.

2. Modularity for Sustainability

Today’s smart businesses are comfortable with change. That doesn’t just mean the people. These days, almost an entire office setup can be composed of infrastructure that is ready to move, grow and change with you – in a manner that saves your business time and money.

Here’s a challenge: Imagine better data cabling. Traditionally, data cabling is fed through the walls during the construction phase of a new office build or renovation. When the company is ready to make an edit to their space, cables are cut, abandoned or torn out. So, what does better data cabling look like? It looks a lot like a solution called RapidNet, a pre-terminated modular cabling system using zonal distribution called “consolidation points.” Consolidation points allow for increased flexibility to your data or fibre cabling system, without compromising performance.

The perfect companion to a flexible data cabling system? Modular walls. Modular walls allow your space to change with your teams. Creating, removing and adjusting new desk spaces or boardrooms become simple tasks that don’t negatively impact your business operations or your bottom line. While modular walls aren’t an essential piece to a flexible cabling system, they certainly help complete the future-friendly package.

3. Keep Private Conversations Private

Chances are, your company spends a pretty penny on cyber security to ensure confidential information remains that way. In fact, analysis by the Ponemon Institute showed companies spend 17.4 million dollars on cyber security. The repercussions of a data leak can be astronomical. Yet, day after day, companies are giving away confidential information without even realizing it. How is that you ask? Day-to-day voice conversations. A closed-door meeting does not equal closed ears on the other side.

There’s a very simple solution to this problem — sound masking. Sound masking raises the noise level where the ears are. With sound masking, you and your team may be aware that there are other conversations around you, but they will be rendered unintelligible. Systems such as Spectra iNet successfully limit the distance of sound travel down to twelve feet from twenty-four, using pink noise. Unlike white noise, pink noise uses a range of different sounds to ensure both speech privacy and comfort.

4. Prepare for the Worst

Employee and patron safety is a top priority for every organization. Smart companies are prepared for the worst with Mass Notification and Emergency Communications (MNEC) systems. These systems allow users to customize messages that reach every corner of a space, from the washroom to the parking garage and everywhere in between. Custom messages are delivered across multiple platforms, allowing real-time directions to be communicated clearly and effectively. These alerts, sent via digital signage, text, email, phone, intercom, strobe lights and sirens, work simultaneously to move individuals away from areas of danger and into safe zones.

The bonus feature of an MNEC system is that the converged single platform solution also delivers sound masking, music and paging, so it can still be used daily and not just for emergencies.

5. Harness the Power of PoE

Power Over Ethernet (PoE) is the energy of present and future smart buildings. With the use of PoE devices, electrical outlets and power are no longer a concern. In addition to cabling, PoE capability now includes a range of devices such as security cameras, thin clients, mobile clients and lighting.

In addition to saving power, PoE lighting systems come with programming capabilities, allowing for data collection. Using occupancy sensors, information on room-usage can be compiled and used to make decisions regarding the most efficient use of space and in-turn, appropriate office configurations. For example, why heat or cool a room with nobody in it? PoE data allows organizations to allocate their HVAC expenses in a much more efficient manner. Why clean a desk space that hasn’t been used in a week? Companies can cut down on cleaning and maintenance costs by only allocating resources to spaces that have been used. Following these same patterns, companies can make more long-term decisions about their physical office set-up. Is your data indicating that there are always 50 empty workstations, but boardrooms are always a hot commodity? Rearrange the set-up accordingly.

6. Partner with an Integrator

The final missing piece of the smart workplace puzzle, is to hire an IP integrator to deliver your vision. Traditionally, a company may partner with several vendors to cover the scope of their audio-visual, cabling, sound masking, MNEC and PoE lighting infrastructure. An integrator, such as national-firm PCC Integrate, works with organizations on design, procurement, installation and support of a smart building project. This ensures the company vision is delivered with insight and expertise regarding best practices, resulting in the best possible outcome.

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