The circumstances of the past year and a half have presented significant challenges to the workforce, but thankfully there is a strong glimmer of hope on the horizon. As more and more companies are able to allow staff members to return to their regular office spaces, it’s encouraging to know that smart office technologies stand ready to simplify work life, and make it healthier to engage in as well.
Hands-Free Room Automation
While concerns about COVID-19 are nowhere near the level they were in the previous year, many (including clients and staff members) have become more aware of virus and germ transmission, especially in public places. One way to ease any residual concerns is for organizations to take advantage of hands-free automated tools for meeting rooms and other common office spaces.
Wherever public space is provided – whether it’s a lecture hall, conference room, meeting room, or council chambers – people benefit from using hands-free smart tools, such as automatic illumination for whenever someone walks into a room, automatic temperature adjustment, as well as automatic light configuration needed for certain settings, whether one needs bright light for a training session or dimmer lighting for a client meeting.
Imagine smart cameras that are fully capable of
- Auto-counting the number of occupants in the room
- Auto-focusing on a meeting speaker
- Switching focus automatically from an audience member to the presenter
- Retaining focus on the presenter even if they walk around the meeting room
- Inconspicuous beamforming mics that allow participants to hear and be heard with high-quality sound
These types of technologies are made available through the use of the latest AI, which includes tools for motion sensing and natural language understanding. In essence, what was up until recently, offered primarily for home use in the form of security cameras and voice recognition devices, has now become mainstream in corporate, government, and educational spaces.
Smart Facial Recognition
More and more organizations are using facial recognition tools that can perform such actions as detecting and recording each meeting or conference attendee, as well as granting access to restricted areas and buildings. Facial recognition tools can also perform health and safety monitoring such as temperature checks prior to granting access to enclosed areas or areas where sickness may be a serious concern such as certain hospital wards. While temperature checks came into prominence because of COVID-19, some organizations may decide to keep using such a useful tool even in the upcoming post-COVID era, since early detection of illness can do much to reduce productivity losses and work days lost to illness.
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
Prior to COVID-19, some companies balked at the idea of allowing staff members to use their own personal devices for work-related tasks. While it does change how corporate, government, and educational IT personnel monitor vital software and data, especially in the past year, the very use of BYODs allowed many companies to remain afloat. Today, companies are much more open to the use of BYODs and their use will likely remain popular in professional circles. Not only do employee-owned devices allow staff to work anytime and from anywhere, they also greatly cut down the transmission of illness that frequently occurred with the community use of computer equipment.
It was already noted that hands-free automation, the use of BYODs, and smart facial recognition can reduce illness, which in turn can help reduce sick days and productivity loss. Hands-free room automation tools can also help reduce other costs such as the heating, cooling, and electricity costs associated with keeping meeting and conference rooms comfortable. Facial recognition tools may also help to reduce personnel costs as they are able to take the place of employees whose primary job responsibilities centered around monitoring access to specific areas.