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Impact Of Smart Workplaces On Enhanced Employee Productivity

Most of us spend eight to ten hours in our workplace every day. These are also our most productive. Considering this fact, employers, developers and investors are now focusing on making work hours the most resourceful. Most organisations spend about 90 per cent of their operating capital on the well-being of their employees. Even a change of two per cent to that capital can cause a major impact on the organisations’ overall performance.

So, what do organisations expect from their employees? The answer is simple. To be the most productive while in office! Hence, employees’ health and well-being take priority with the management. An ideal workspace comprises three key aspects: environment of the workplace, which includes lighting, sound, interiors, thermal comfort level and so on; optimised experience for each employee and economics of creating the ideal workspace.

Sukanto Aich, senior director, Philips Lighting India, emphasises the importance of lighting in creating the much-needed conducive workplace environment. He says, “Lighting today is more than just Illumination. While the right light with the best-in-class LED system is the base today, a connected lighting system can enable companies to benefit from space optimisation, HVAC integration and cleaning schedule optimisation, and enhance overall employee productivity. All this links to a much larger impact on brand equity.

“It is extremely important for organisations today to focus on scalability and build that into their lighting system, be it a completely new office or a retrofit. Today, new technologies like POE and Zigbee are enabling offices to achieve these values beyond illumination very effectively. Edge building in Amsterdam is a live example.”

Working under smart lights can bring about a huge impact in increasing productivity. This change can be brought by converting existing fixtures into energy-efficient ones. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard, established by US Green Building Council, provides globally-recognised certifications for new commercial building projects.

Green Building Council has an upcoming norm on smart workplaces that discusses how comfortable an employee might feel there. It is not just about going green but rather how much real value can be created. For example, our energy levels are dependent on the cycle of the Sun. Hence, we feel dizzy every afternoon. Using smart lighting, we can find ways in which lighting can help increase energy in our system when we are exposed to sunlight every morning, or help us be more alert in the afternoon. This would help reduce employees’ coffee intake as well.

Explaining the impact of colour and temperature at workplace, Aich adds, “In tropical countries like India, we mostly use bright white light, while in European countries like the UK, workplaces are lit by slightly yellow light. There is a certain frequency of blue light. Similarly, there are more light frequencies that make us feel energised and refreshed. As the role of technology increases in designing workspaces, individual needs are at the centrefold of the same. It goes beyond light to elements such as air-conditioners. Creating a customised environment is aimed at bringing about maximum productivity.”

Girish Babu, country manager, India and SAARC, Siemon India, shares his insight on infrastructure and connectivity at the workplace, “In a workplace, environment brings about a great impact. In creating IoT-dominant workspaces of today, we are replacing the entire high voltage connectivity part with low voltage. This also has an effect on security. Newer products are much safer than previously-used ones.”

Srinivas Khandavilli, program director, Smart Buildings, Intel, says, “A smart building is an amalgamation of various elements such as parking, lighting, utilising water and energy effectively, and so on. There are many sub-systems within that which need to be considered. But, before dwelling into the idea, a business needs to have clarity on why they need a smart building?

“The base level is energy savings. Next is predictive maintenance. There are many assets in a building; for instance, we rely heavily on the UPS. But, there are instances when the UPS fails. Installing an IoT solution could help predict the UPS breakdown and fix the problem in time. More studies say that if the employees are happy, they love to work in that building. Things like wireless projections can make things exciting. All of this only makes sense if it brings in business benefit.”

Khandavilli adds, “MSMEs particularly need to look for readymade solutions. Getting the right system integrators might be a challenge.”

Aich elaborates, “Getting two smart solutions that do not communicate with each other is useless. For example, if my light does not talk to my air-conditioner, energy-saving efforts will not be effective. Now, we work in hot seats in offices, constantly changing our work area. With data being available on the efficiency of the occupied area, one may be able to optimise the actual seating area.”

Babu adds, “There is a lot of energy conversion that happens. An effective solution might be the one that can optimise that.”

Khandavilli shares, “Many BPOs have implemented tracking devices to keep an eye on what applications their employees are accessing on company laptops.

“Then, the level of CO2 in a building dramatically impacts productivity. If it is high, people feel dizzy. One needs to consider the freshness in the air to keep employees working at an optimum level. The old convention that said one should be able to work under any circumstances is not really practical. The thought is simple. If you are going to spend eight hours of your day somewhere, would you want them to be creative or mundane?”

According to Aich, we no longer live in the time and age where one can track whether people are contributing or not. Now, it is important to know how to make the concept seamless. One should be able to work remotely and in a flexible manner.

Babu explains that, in these times of remote workplaces, there are solutions to record and track productivity despite being physically away from the workplace. That is the best way to measure achievement instead of being tied by time.

—Nidhi Arora, executive editor, EFY

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