The Workplace Automation Buildout

Property owners looking for a competitive edge in a challenging market are turning to workplace automation to attract workforce companies and their employees back to the office. Over the next five years, significant bandwidth requirements will be necessary to keep up with new technologies and their growing data demands.

What is Workplace Automation?

Automation is the process of using network-connected hardware and software to automate workflows. Most automation technologies fall into one of two broad categories.

Building automation uses sensors and automatic controls to adjust and control building-wide systems such as HVAC systems, lighting, security access, and cameras. The most common examples include smoke detectors, alarms, and sprinkler systems. A building is deemed “smart” when these systems connect into a single IT-managed network infrastructure, typically using Power over Ethernet (PoE) to power and connect Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices.

Workplace automation uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to replace redundant tasks such as:

● Employee scheduling

● Equipment maintenance

● Inventory

● Shipping/Tracking

● Building access

● Alarm systems

● Accepting payments

● Security

RPA is ideal for handling these repetitive tasks in business complexes and high-rise buildings with numerous tenants and many employees. Smaller companies can use RPA to create a self-serve format for employees and customers performing repetitive administrative tasks. In both scenarios, the efficiency gained can lower operational costs for the tenant and property owner.

What Are the Benefits of Automation in the Workplace?

Workplace automation can help companies cut costs while minimizing errors and streamlining company processes, allowing employees to work more efficiently and comfortably. For example::

Automation streamlines communications between team members, employees, contractors, and vendors and can shorten project design, approval, and construction schedules. Eliminating repetitive tasks such as updating inventories, documents, and schedules can reduce employee stress levels while improving focus and creativity levels. As a result, employee accountability and productivity increases, which provides a superior final product for the customer or end-user.

Automation Infrastructure

Unfortunately, when many of the existing commercial properties were built, there was no cabling provision for today’s technologies, such as wireless networks, building automation, or the IoT (Internet of Things). As a result, most cabling solutions used either “raceways” located in the concrete slab, conduits hidden within walls, or a system of suspended “cable trays” hidden above the ceiling assembly.

As tenant technology requirements changed, facilities teams or contractors would perform selective demolitions to the appropriate system to implement and create cabling access points. After installing the new cabling runs, the affected finishes get patched or repaired before turning the space back over to the employees and customers. This process repeats for every new tech upgrade or reconfiguration project across the lifespan of the building. At scale, this is not sustainable.

The Cabling Infrastructure Buildout

To support these new technologies, commercial property owners, facilities teams, and IT administrators must have a cabling infrastructure system that is flexible and adaptable. The ideal system would support cabling for today’s in-person work environment and the flexibility to support future network needs and new technologies.

A modular and flexible cabling infrastructure system can reduce future construction costs by relocating the power and data cabling into an accessible raised access flooring system. Instead of opening walls, floors, and ceilings to perform the next technology upgrade, teams remove the floor finish (usually carpet tiles) to complete the needed work quickly. Cabling upgrades can now take days instead of weeks or months, reducing the inconvenience to employees and customers.

Proactive planning today can ensure that whatever technologies a tenant needs for their business:

● Internet

● Video

● Audio

● Artificial Intelligence (AI)

● Augmented Reality (AR)

Virtual Reality (VR)

● Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Any commercial space can now have a flexible cabling infrastructure an access flooring in-place, ready to provide a superior work environment by increasing productivity and employee comfort for prospective companies and tenants.