November 2017

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New Research Identifies What Really Matters in the Modern Workplace

This report is not really about technology; it’s about people.
James McHale

James McHale,
Managing Director,

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The latest report from Memoori cuts through the rhetoric to identify what really matters in our increasingly smart commercial buildings. As office owners, designers and tenants struggle through the sea of new concepts and technologies flooding the smart buildings market; our new report gets to the core of the issue – what really matters is people.

“This report is not really about technology; it’s about people. It’s our attempt to take a step back from the technology and consider the WHY instead of the HOW. An examination of our belief that the Internet of Things can help us create more human and productive work environments.”

However, as the title ‘The Future Workplace: Smart Office Design in the Internet of Things Era’ suggests, the report is full of analysis of technological solutions but only in that it deciphers how technology can help people. In the workplace context, that means supporting productivity, for the benefit of the worker and the enterprise.

Theories of “technologies to enhance buildings” rather than “buildings to enhance people” have become all too common in the smart buildings market. However by shifting the focus onto people, we not only filter the useful technologies from those that apply technology for the sake of technology; we also better identify scenarios where we may not need technology at all, and even where excessive technology may be detrimental to the objectives of the building.

Furthermore, this change may be the trigger needed to bring together and reignite the fragmented smart buildings sector, according to the report:

“The relatively recent shift of focus from ‘making better buildings’ to ‘making better buildings for occupants,’ may bring more unification within the industry, driven by a greater demand for the increased value of smart buildings. Flooding a building with technology is no longer enough; vendors must take a step back and ask how best to serve occupants before planning their product offering.”

The concept can be summarized by the idea that buildings should be designed to serve an objective. Therefore building technology should be applied to serve the same objective as that building. If the building is a school – the objective is to help students learn, or help teachers teach; if it is a hospital – it should aid patient healing, which may well be by supporting the work of doctors and nurses; and in the context of the report, for office buildings, design and technology should focus on enterprise profitability, which is in large part, down to worker productivity.


This has always been the case to a certain degree. However, in recent years there has been a convergence of new scientific and design concepts related to the ideal workplace, one that maximizes productivity by creating the ideal environment for workers.

These converging ideas acknowledge that each worker has individual preferences and each type of work has its own needs. The overwhelming answer to creating the ideal workplace is flexibility, and to achieve that the workplace needs to give control to the worker. “These business and scientific theories have converged at the same time as the emergence of smart buildings and the Internet of things. Intelligent technologies are enabling unprecedented optimization of the workplace by giving greater control to the individual worker,” explains the report that goes into depth on specific solutions such as layout, lighting and environmental controls.

Control is not just a matter of allowing individuals to create the perfect environment to suit their productivity needs at any given time, however. The report describes how control itself gives the occupant the perception that their environment has been designed for their specific requirements.

“According to HVAC specialist Richard Dawson, about 90% of non-secured office thermostats are placebo controls, and this practice dates back to the 1960s. These placebo controls for large HVAC systems do nothing, except make you think you are adjusting the temperature. In some cases, the system even includes white noise generators to make you think that the temperature controls are working, when in fact the heating and cooling systems are controlled elsewhere.”

This is just one of many examples in the report that demonstrates the surprising and complex nature of office design. Only by understanding all these new perspectives can companies hope to navigate the evolution of the workplace in the Internet of things era.

At 110 pages with 16 charts & tables & ONLY $1,500 USD for a single user license, The Future Workplaces report filters out all the important conclusions, supported by facts, to demonstrate how the Internet of Things is reshaping the office environment to increase workforce productivity.

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