It is said that we are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, where technology fuses the physical, digital and even biological.  Connectivity, Internet of Things (IoT) and a plethora of data are increasingly impacting on how individuals interact with their environment both at home and at work.  However, office buildings are the one area of the contemporary life where the interface between assets and consumer-focused technology is lagging.  Whilst legacy ways of working might currently be acceptable in the office, this situation is likely to change as Millennials join the workforce, bringing different expectations and values with respect to data and connectivity.

Office workers might be entitled to ask why their user experience of office work is less seamless and less user-friendly than other parts of their lives.  Why, when it is possible to adjust the temperature at home via an app, should it be necessary to call the FM helpdesk to do the same at the office?

Digital blind-spots in the office environment not only limit the employee experience, but also the opportunities for office owners and managers to optimise building performance using data and predictive analytics, with significant implications for the bottom-line.  In the same way that logistics companies use data to optimise the operation of their supply chain and distribution centres, office managers should also be able to have and use the data that they need to extract optimum performance and full value from their office space.

The forthcoming BCO report, Enabling the Digital Workspace, is one in a series of publications tracking the impact of technology on the built environment (including the Internet of Things 2014 and Virtual Reality and 3-D Printing 2017). The study sets out to explore how digital solutions could be introduced into the office to enhance the workplace experience.  It examines what solutions are available,  considers how base-build and fit-out components of the digital workplace interact and whether current specifications and working practices are holding back the ability to deliver valuable functionality into office buildings. 

Ultimately office buildings only exist to enable people to work effectively, whether collaboratively or as individuals.  Digital functionality that enables the workplace to be used more effectively or make people more effective and productive has a clear place in the continuing evolution of the office. 

Smart buildings will be prime office buildings that are at the top tier of the asset class, offering greater capital protection to investors and developers, improving employee health and wellbeing and fostering greater productivity.  Successfully navigating the plethora of innovations, and how to implement them, will determine success.

Access the BCO research page and download reports to read more on the future of workplace. Become a member, join the debate and help to shape the future of the industry