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Industry Voice: Make your office smarter: a how-to guide

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Industry Voice: Make your office smarter: a how-to guide

We're still not at the point where robots are wandering the halls or our coffee is brewed upon a command sent from a cell phone, but for modern-day workers, the office is about to get a whole lot smarter.

We're still not at the point where robots are wandering the halls or our coffee is brewed upon a command sent from a cell phone, but for modern-day workers, the office is about to get a whole lot smarter.

Get smart

Most of us already have a smartphone or some sort of connected device in our lives, or we will in the future if the arrival of wearable devices is anything to judge by. In fact, some offices are already using things like Internet connected printers and IP phone systems that allow people to video chat with coworkers. For those that are, bravo! You're well on your way, but there's still more that can be done to turn a regular office into a smart one.

First off, focus on having the right tech for your team. When shopping for new equipment for your office, keep your employees' needs in mind, as well as their likes and dislikes. Are they PC-aficionados, or Mac loyalists? In the past, Microsoft ruled office environments, but now with the availability of virtual desktops and cloud applications, the hardware used by a team doesn't matter. What matters instead is that they're connected, comfortable, and productive. The cloud can help with the rest.

Once you've got most of the important hardware, you can also look at extra niceties like having a smart coffee table for your employees to sit around while engaged in discussion. These tables may be a bit more expensive when compared to other necessary equipment in your office, but they serve a multitude of purposes, especially if you have a design or graphically-minded crew. For those who need the full screen of the coffee table but would prefer to mount it on the wall for presentations, Smart TVs or devices like Google's Chromecast will help make presentations and meetings more interactive and engaging.

What else?

Before you start picking out cloud apps, don't forget you also need to focus on the little things as well. Try installing innovative devices like Spotter, a multipurpose sensor that can detect and alert you when a package is dropped off at your business' door. No more missed package notices from the Post Office or worrying about packages being delivered when you're out. Just send off a quick message to your team or jog down to the office to pick it up yourself.

While you're purchasing Spotter, don't forget to order a couple of Pivot's Power Genius strips or VixPlugs. Both of these power strips allow you to remotely control any electronic device that's plugged into the strip through an app on your smart phone. You can double check to make sure computers are shut down and the coffee pot is turned off, and by conserving electricity you can make sure that your office is not just smart, but green too.

Get connected

After you've equipped your office with the right technology (i.e., Wi-fi printers, desktops, power strips, etc.), the most important thing about being smart, is also being connected. Your employees have to work together as a team and they have to have access to the tools they need. Your job is to provide a way for the entire office to function smoothly. In addition to providing a strong Wi-Fi connection inside the office, you'll want to look around for cloud apps that will foster creativity and encourage your employees to work together as a team.

For collaboration software, you might want to check out apps like MindMeister, a brainstorming app built with team collaboration in mind, or project management software like Mijura that was built specifically for teams. There's also Google Apps for Business in case you need to provide email and document sharing software to your employees. Thanks to the cloud, all of these tools and more are available with low monthly costs, and some even come with free trials, making your decision to smarten up your office your brightest one yet!

The aforementioned cloud apps are great for not only making your office smarter, but also in allowing your employees to sync up with the mother ship even when they're away on business or vacation. After all, what good would a smart office be if it couldn't be accessed remotely? The best part about having a smart office that each employee can instantaneously connect back to is finding new, exciting apps like dozeo. an online meeting software where employees can meet, take notes, view presentations, and even share in a laugh or two. Who said being smart couldn't be fun as well? The best part is anyone with an Internet connection can join with a few clicks, and the meeting can get started from anywhere at any time. Just don't forget to let your attendees know about the meeting beforehand with dozeo's handy notification system!

The goal of a smart office is not just to bring IoT technology into the office in a way that saves money and frees workers from tasks that can impact productivity, but to also focus on connecting your human workers. In our already-connected world, the smart office is well on its way to becoming a reality and thanks to the cloud, it could already be here for you.

  • Jennifer Hutchison is a Content Specialist at InfoStreet

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