Smarter living: from the office to home

Do you remember a world before technology? No computers. No internet. No mobiles. The dark ages. Article by Stuart Craig

Perhaps that was all too long ago to cast your mind back. How about the era when your office used only the most basic technology – low level lighting controls and clumsy presentation connectivity, or booking a meeting room was highly manual where you had to pencil into the calendar at reception. Perhaps you’re still feeling the pang of these headaches? Well, it’s on the way out.

The ‘office of the future’ is now very much in the present. The technology is available, easily integrated, and increasingly, becoming a demanded and expected utility. What we’d hoped for in the past has become a reality – today’s technology is far more advanced, capable of delivering rich sound and vivid images throughout any environment, with unparalleled quality and convenience.

Smart technology is having a huge impact. In order to compete in the modern workplace arena, companies are fast evolving their technology systems to not only impress clients, but also to lure in quality employees, increase productivity, enhance remote and in-person collaboration as well as create cross-department working relationships.

Importantly, it’s becoming increasingly understood that the businesses of tomorrow will not be purely defined by the issues they solve and products they develop, but by their workplace culture. Millennials are now becoming much more ingrained within businesses – whether they are the business owners, staff members or even the targeted consumers.

For many of them, workplace culture is the most important part of a business.

In office spaces, we’re seeing the types of smartphone touchscreens we use in our personal lives incorporated into walls, podiums and boards, to make information and tools easier to access, understand and utilise. From the integrated booking of a meeting room, initiating the presentation, tuning sound to the correct volume, gauging the right room temperature, getting that conference call readily dialled in or preparing to record and stream the meeting – it’s an efficient environment, all controlled from a single panel. It means more time for the actual meeting, and less time getting the meeting started.

John O’Mahony, partner at Deloitte Access Economics, has recently said that the characteristics of the businesses of tomorrow will be about how they’re run and how they’re led. He says that business metrics will extend to defining success in terms of the engagement of the employees. O’Mahony says Deloitte research shows that two of the top three reasons people want to stay at their employer include: the sense of teamwork they experience, and the working relationships with their fellow employees.

Gilbert + Tobin, a Sydney-based law firm, are one such example of a business that is a big supporter of change and innovation, and have recognised the need to break away from traditional office environments, in order to be successful in the future. The business recently relocated to Barangaroo and invested in a tailored Crestron solution to help create a non-conventional, collaborative and future-proof workplace environment.

The staff immediately adopted the new technology throughout the building – from booking meeting rooms via an easy-to-use application to wirelessly displaying content and presentations on screens via a one-touch panel. The requirement for tech support for meeting room and boardroom set up has reduced dramatically. Further, management has access to insights at their fingertips on utilisation rates of rooms. If only a few people on average are using a boardroom infrequently, the space can be changed and better maximized into something more useful such as creating several huddle spaces.

The technology revolution is increasingly starting to follow us home from the office. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has spoken of his experimentation with the smart home, with the announcement of Jarvis. Following 100 hours of work in 2016, Mr Zuckerberg built a simple AI, dubbed Jarvis, to run his home. He can talk to Jarvis on his phone and computer, which can control his home, including lights, temperature, appliances, music and security

Jarvis learns his tastes and patterns, new words and concepts over time, and Crestron’s processors and control provides the platform for Mark Zuckerberg’s AI to work.

Whether it’s Jarvis, or other voice command technology available such as Apple’s Siri or Amazon Alexa, such audio-based systems are certainly the way of the future. They are beginning to grow in popularity, with millennials set as the early adopters.

Amazon Alexa connects with home automation systems allowing you to manage light, blinds, temperature, audio and visual screens all via the sound of your voice. Late last year, Wynn Las Vegas fitted close to 5,000 rooms with Amazon Alexa speakers, enabling guests to control lights, room temperature, drapery and the television. The luxe hotel also embraces Crestron technology, which integrates with Amazon Alexa, helping to ensure all in-suite technology is seamlessly controlled.

Once such technology is firmly integrated into homes, there will quickly become an expectation for such voice- activated assistants to also move into office spaces.

Businesses need to seriously plan out how they can transform their office environments in ways that propel better collaboration, communication and interaction among employees, and make investments in the smart technology that’s becoming expected by the younger generations entering the workforce, and becoming ever-present in homes. New innovations are rapidly coming to the fore, and businesses need to stay ahead of the pulse in order to attract and retain

staff, as well as constantly drive staff motivation and challenge new thinking.

Stuart Craig, CEO, Crestron, Asia Pacific

Business First is a peer-to-peer magazine: written by CEOs and other high level executives, with interviews with some of the country’s best leaders.

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