Work is no longer ‘the place we go to‘ in the morning, it is the activities we do and the social interactions we have.

New generations expect to be able to work and collaborate from anywhere, inside and outside the ‘office building’. And they count on technology to help them do that.

According to Forbes, Millennials – the generation born between 1980 and 2000 – will make up approximately 50% of the (US) workforce by 2020, and they will account for 75% of the workforce in 2025. Having grown up with mobile devices and social networks, they are connected with technology as no generation has been before: 53% of Millennials would rather lose their sense of smell than their technology.

When it comes to work ethics, their priorities and expectations are also different from previous generations. Millennials measure productivity by the work they’ve done, not the time spent in the office. And 45% will choose a workplace with more flexibility over one with higher pay. Because of Millennials’ influence on their elders, their task-oriented, less formal approach to work also spreads to the rest of the workforce.

What does this mean for you?

Time to rethink the work environment

Organizations and workplace managers should embrace the digital and collaborative nature of today’s world and the new opportunities it brings. Or fail to attract top talent and lose their competitive edge.

Take Julie, 26. Transitioning from college to career, she soon got frustrated with the rigid 9-to-5 work schedules and butt-in-seat culture at her first employer. It was time for a change. Now, she works for a company that enables smart working and gives her the freedom to work from anywhere. When she wants to meet with people face-to-face, she goes to the office.

Upon entering the building, she can check the display kiosk at the entrance to book a free meeting space on the spot. The display gets its information from real-time occupancy sensors in the building, so the information on the floor plan is always current. After the meeting she does not waste time to find an available seat. Her mobile app can help her locate the optimal seat in the open working space or concentration room to do focused work.

To share work in progress with teams around the world, she uses web conferencing. As some of the team members are living in very different time zones, it is convenient that she can share documents and do collaborative brainstorms using virtual desktop sharing tools and document sharing tools, even from home.

During her working day Julie has no difficulty finding the right type of space, as the office layout has been adjusted to accommodate all types of activities, and takes into account preferences of 4 generations working under one roof. Indoor conditions (temperature, humidity, CO2 and noise levels) are measured by sensors too, enabling Julie’s workplace manager to improve workplace comfort, as well as saving energy. Sensors also provide usage data to service providers, so that cleaning or maintenance work is done when and where it matters most.

Julie’s workplace is designed for the purpose-driven millennial workforce, leveraging the opportunities provided by technology and the Internet of Things. It’s definitely an example worth following, but the question is: where to start?

Start with the end in mind

Technology is a means to an end. Before anything else, think through your objectives. What insights and outcomes are you looking for? Where will you generate the most value? Once you are clear on that, you can start looking at the most appropriate technology tools to capture the relevant data and put it to use. Consider the types of interactions you want to enable and the output to end users, workplace managers and service providers.

It’s not just sensor data, either. You can use other tools like indoor positioning to enable new user scenarios. And don’t underestimate the value of existing data in your buildings (IWMS, HR, Finance, etc.) when integrated with IoT big data.

Some of the most popular IoT scenarios in the work environment are in the areas of improved space occupancy, employee well-being, energy management and user experience (instant user feedback).

Before deploying technology, do the reality check: talk with experts who have in-depth experience of best industry practices and can assess potential benefits.

At MCS we work collaboratively with businesses to guide them from sensor to value. If you would like to know more about the possibilities, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a chat or a demo. We’d love to hear from you.