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How will work change in the future? COVID, the catalyst for change

how will work change in the future

How will work change in the future? COVID, the catalyst for change

How will work change in the future? The post-COVID office and flexible workforce will drive lasting changes in the workplace that businesses need to prepare for.


The world is full of examples of innovators who sensed a need for change in their environment and used it as a catalyst for lasting improvement. Those visionaries took their teams through adversity and invented a new future. We believe that in the years to come we will see that the year that everyone would rather forget, 2020, was the year that lasting change was enacted in our lives and businesses.

In Australia, the most obvious manifestation of these changes will be the move to remote and hybrid ways of working. We have seen workforces successfully move to a remote working model, but we believe that the real lasting changes from this transformation are yet to come. Specifically, we believe that:

Remote working solutions will need to adapt to better fit a hybrid working future or flexible workforce

So exactly how will work change in the future? Today’s completely remote workforce will move to a hybrid model where employees once again seek the enhanced collaboration and social-bonding benefits of the office. Solutions that have worked fine for the fully remote workforce (e.g. desktop-based video conferencing) will need to be augmented with solutions that provide collaboration between mixed groups of remote and onsite team members.

post-COVID office
SMART technology & advanced booking systems have recently been combined with great effect to manage flexible workforces over multiple on-site and remote locations.

We’ve all been part of a meeting where collaboration has suffered and failed due to team members participating online and in person, or the person working from home wasn’t invited in the first place. These scenarios will become the norm in the post-COVID office, and SMART solutions will be a necessity as it is unlikely teams will ever fully co-locate again.

On-site working solutions required for a safe and compliant post-COVID world. 

The return of workforces to offices will require active solutions to balance staff sense of safety (is this building safe for me?), building practical usage limits (lift throughput, floor and meeting roaming occupancy etc.) and employers’ legal obligations (am I fulfilling my legal obligations) in an effective manner. 

Our team has significant experience in SMART office solutions, which started with SMART Desks a number of years ago. Due to COVID the team saw a need for a SMART Space solution – JourneyHub was born. JourneyHub is a SMART Space solution that allows landlords and employers to manage their office space safely and efficiently through IoT sensors, AI/ML and IT integration capabilities.  

Suburban and metro business adapting to a hybrid working future.  

One of the few positives of COVID has been the new life that has been breathed back into local high streets and community areas. Hundreds of thousands of people who traditionally spend their days in the CBD are working from home, potentially juggling childcare, and education responsibilities. This trend of flexible working and increased activity in suburban areas will provide opportunities for local businesses to flex to growing customer demand.

A good example is neighbourhood gyms, who are poised to benefit with the permanency of flexible working, resulting in increased demand for daytime classes and gym space. This will need to be balanced by addressing anxiousness relating to over-crowding by real-time updates and allocation of their equipment to their neighbourly customers who are using their newfound work flexibility to fit in a gym session between video meetings. 

To make this type of solution work, it requires clever integration of sensors to measure usage, CRM systems to keep track of customers, AI/ML modelling to predict usage and mobile applications to inform customers when the ‘coast is clear’. Unico’s SMART Space solutions are well suited to bridge the gap between innovative business ideas and technology allowing businesses to capture new customers.


Is your business grappling with the question “How will work change in the future?” If you wonder what the post-COVID office might look like and think that IT transformations can help you reach your goals, we might be the people to help you.

Get in touch below.


Mark Hannon

Head of Telco Sales and Pre-Sales

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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

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 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