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Debunking the differences between an intelligent workplace and smarter workspace

(Image credit: Image Credit: Firma V / Shutterstock)

The modern workplace is changing. ‘Work’ is no longer just a physical location where you arrive at nine and leave at five. Work is a thing you do, no matter whether you do it in an office, a coffee shop or in your pyjamas at home. As the way we work evolves, the technology and solutions which we use to do our jobs also need to develop in order to cater to the norms and values of a modern workforce.

Businesses must therefore not only enhance their physical workplace to improve productivity across their office, but also create smarter workspaces for employees to continue interacting outside of their main location. Attracting and retaining talent in today’s workforce demands greater flexibility within the working environment. No longer are employees confined to static office space and they now need the right tools to connect and carry out smart, productive work without limits from anywhere. 

‘Intelligent workplace’ and ‘smarter workspace’ may seem like two terms which can be used interchangeably. In reality, these are two separate concepts - both of which can benefit businesses and align them with modern work trends. It is crucial that as our world becomes more connected, the areas within which we work are able to keep up. 

Two concepts = a wealth of benefits

In order to fully harness the advantages of both concepts, organisations must first recognise their fundamental differences. A ‘workplace’ is a fixed, physical location - often this means the office space where employees go to work. On the other hand, a ‘workspace’ is where employees do work - whether that be in the office, at home or during a commute.

An intelligent workplace is one which embraces new innovation and has its finger on the pulse of new technology trends - a workplace which enables, not inhibits, productivity and communication. Within a successfully intelligent workplace, the business needs are assessed and new solutions are carefully selected, tested and implemented with minimal disruption to the employee experience. The technology used is scalable and can grow alongside your company, whilst replacing or enhancing legacy systems to unlock a smarter approach to on-site working.

Employees have the solutions in place to do their jobs in the most efficient and productive way possible. Not only does ensuring your workplace is intelligent streamline your processes, it boosts employee engagement. 71 per cent of employees expect their workplaces to use the same level of technology that they use at home. As our personal lives become more digitalised, so too must our workplaces. 

A smarter workspace is an increasingly prevalent concept which takes the idea of an ‘intelligent workspace’ and moves it outside of the walls of your office. For example, employees should have the ability to begin a report together in the office and then seamlessly continue to collaborate on the task while heading to an off-site meeting. By utilising the right technology and solutions, secured with a VPN, employees can have the capabilities to work anywhere and still be as productive as if they were in the workplace. Ultimately, a smarter workspace allows remote working and collaboration without the boundaries of physical location. 

Connecting workplaces and workspaces

When creating an intelligent workplace, communication is key. If the right collaboration and communication solutions aren’t in place, your employees won’t be able to utilise intelligent technology to its full potential. Collaboration is vital if your business is to achieve its goals. 86 per cent of employees blame a lack of effective communication for workplace failures. If the introduction of an intelligent workplace and smarter workspaces is going to be successful, the two must connect and work seamlessly together in order to minimise disruption and drive efficiency for employees.

There are a range of ways to achieve this and it is often useful to experiment with a number of different solutions to see which works best for your workforce. Cloud collaboration services can link together a number of communication tools for a more holistic way of working, alleviating some of the age-old frustrations often associated with workplace communication. Unifying your communication tools removes the stress of arranging those complicated remote conference calls where everyone is using a different service. As well as phone conferencing, video can be used to make remote meetings feel as face-to-face as possible.

Looking further into the future, fast innovation championed by industry players such as Microsoft and Cisco are presenting the huge potential of emerging Artificial Intelligence for creating ‘virtual’ spaces which go beyond existing communication tools and further break down physical barriers for collaboration - with participants seemingly in the same room. Developments in this field are taking place rapidly across the Unified Communications sector and will provide the degree of innovation needed to enable the frictionless connection of modern workplaces and workspaces as we move towards smarter and more convenient working environments.

Intelligent workplaces and smarter workspaces come together to create a company culture of collaboration and communication. While both of these concepts can work separately, the benefits are more easily felt when implemented alongside each other. By introducing the best productivity-boosting tech and solutions to encourage team working, companies can strike the perfect balance and  ensure that their workforce can operate to their full potential, regardless of where they are.

Andrew Pearce, Managing Director, EMEA, Arkadin