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What is SMART Workplace Technology? And how can it help businesses return to the office in the new COVID-19 normal

SMART workplace technology has played a major role in the PropTech industry for decades, but what is SMART technology? And how can it help businesses return to the office in the new COVID-19 normal.

What is SMART workplace technology? And how can it help businesses return to the office in the new COVID-19 normal.

SMART workplace technology has played a major role in the PropTech industry for decades, but what is SMART technology? And how can it help businesses return to the office in the new COVID-19 normal.


SMART technology and SMART workplaces have played a major role in the PropTech industry for decades and have gone through many transitions and evolutions over the years. A range of solutions exist on the market that are primarily focused on workforce management, workplace traffic management, analytics and access control. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a range of SMART technology options being adopted into a range of workplaces by both tenants and building owners.

So what is SMART technology?

SMART technology means “Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology”. This technology is used to provide cognitive awareness to objects, by making use of advanced technologies like internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine leaning and big data.

This workplace technology makes use of smart devices like sensors to collate, adapt and convey information about objects and environment, making the monitoring process seamless and self-governed.

SMART technology has recently been combined with new hardware capabilities such as thermal imaging technology to help identify COVID-19 symptoms.

SMART technology lays the foundations for what we like to call a ‘SMART workplace’ which can be defined as:

A digital transformation driven solution encapsulating products and systems, connecting employees and their work environments. A SMART Workplace is geared towards improving collaboration, increasing productivity for workforces and providing employee wellness and safety, thereby helping organisations to make effective and optimal utilisation of human capital and physical resources.

But how can a SMART Workplace help your business in the new COVID-19 normal?

1) Temperature scanning & safety gear detection:

Thermal imaging camera technology has been used across a variety of industries to help identify abnormally high temperatures that pose a health or transmission risk. However, the advent of COVID-19 has driven its widespread adoption in new areas such as retail and real estate. Most approved medical devices utilise infrared radiation to accurately measure temperatures. Placing cameras at designated entry points across a workplace means pedestrians can be monitored for unsafe temperatures that could pose health risks. This information can then be directly sent to users or staff via a mobile app, who will then enact internal safety procedures. Add in AI-enabled mask detection capability and you can systematically help prevent health threats, mitigating the risk of workplace outbreaks.

2) Workplace data & traffic management:

As additional safety procedures are implemented at scale across larger workplaces, the challenges of managing the capacity of people from the lobby, to the lift and into the office become increasingly apparent. Social distancing protocols mandate set lift capacities and other safety precautions that cause major lift delays in larger workplaces during peak periods. Consequently, it is essential that organisations maximise building capacity to make commuting as efficient as possible. By integrating sensor data, analytics and a mobile application, landlords and tenants can easily gather accurate insights on occupancy and utilisation. These are be used to safely manage lift capacity, track overcrowding and identify areas prone to overcrowding that pose health risks. Detailed data and reporting are essential for larger organisations looking to ensure staff can safely return to the office at scale and formulate a key component of a workplace traffic management plan. 

3) Social distancing management:

Some organisations will require social distancing protocols to be implemented and upheld throughout the workplace. Live reporting on usage and occupancy of space can help safely manage density across the workplace.

SMART occupancy sensors are IoT devices that can detect someone’s presence and location in real-time. Installing sensors across leased and communal areas allows management to determine with pinpoint accuracy how many people are occupying a specific space. This data can then be used to determine if individuals are within space capacity limits in areas such as lifts, common areas, meeting rooms or even individual desks. Combine this data with an integrated mobile app and you can enable real-time proximity alerts that notify staff when they have breached pre-set social distancing protocols or are at risk of overcrowding.

4) Mobile ID scanning and touchless technology:

High transmission risks within traditional work environments has resulted in the need for touchless alternatives to buttons and handles, as well as the reduced human interaction where possible. Hardware such as touchless buttons and mobile ID scanners can support a ‘frictionless’ journey throughout an entire building. By taking this one step further and integrating facial recognition or mobile authentication, physical interactions can be removed at selected access points. Add in a web application for guests or visitors and you can manage sanitary access control across an entire building.

5) Usage based cleaning:

Bathrooms, kitchens, desks and other high-touch areas pose a significant infection risk that can be greatly reduced through cleaning based on usage rather than schedule. ‘SMART’ occupancy sensors can register usage instances and alert tenants when cleaning or sanitation is required after a set amount of usage instances.


Are you considering utilising SMART workplace technology yourself or for your clients?

Unico develops and integrates a range of SMART workplace solutions and SMART technology for Australian businesses, building owners and developers.

If you would like to find out more get in touch with me today.


Evan-Harridge

Evan Harridge

Director of Innovation