Automation, innovation, sustainability and humanization are the four basic mantras behind the technologically integrated new age offices that are focused on Smart working.
The connected smart devices, wireless technology and their attendant applications, use of the cloud for storage and sharing of data etc., have all revolutionised the look and functioning of work spaces worldwide. The intelligent/connected offices, as they are called, are gaining popularity worldwide, as it is beneficial to both the employer and the employees. Apart from providing diverse workplace opportunities, energy savings, these futuristic offices also increase efficiency and wellness of the employees.
´Smart offices are designed keeping in mind the concept of multi-comfort for the user, defined as a sense of wellbeing of the five senses - eyes (visual comfort), ears (acoustic comfort), nose (indoor air quality), skin (thermal comfort) and brain (social comfort). All these parameters affect the wellbeing and productivity of the employees´ states Venkat Subramanian, Managing Director- Gyproc Business, Saint-Gobain India.
Seconds Sumit Joshi, Marketing Head, Philips Lighting India: ´Smart offices enable employees to undertake tedious office tasks more efficiently, promote efficient use of available resources and ensure sustainability through the use of eco-friendly processes. In case of lighting, network based devices are used for handling power management and to reduce the overall consumption.´ In 2014 Philips launched the world´s first complete Power over Ethernet connected lighting system that provides employees Smartphone control of their office lighting. Many more such innovations are happening in the industry, which is growing steadily.
According to a survey conducted by the Markets and Markets.com in 2014, the global building automation and controls market (including lighting control, security and access control, and HVAC control) covering residential, commercial and institutional is expected to reach $55.48 billion by 2020 growing at a CAGR of 9.04 percent between 2014 and 2020. Among all the products, the security and access controls have the major market share followed by HVAC controls. The leading players in this segment are Honeywell, Siemens, Johnson Controls, Schneider , Philips, United Technologies, Legrand, Control 14, Bosch, Tyco and Lutron.
To keep pace with these new age offices, everything from interior design, office equipments, furniture, to security, electrical metering etc., are gaining a fresh look. ´Energy saving products, advanced air-conditioning equipments, ergonomically designed furniture , space saving features, higher levels of safety and security are the elements in demandö reveals Sunil Devnani Director - Marketing, Innofitt Systems.
Design and development
Implementing these smart systems should ideally begin at the planning and design phase with the involvement of all the related experts - from design to technology solution providers opine industry professionals. ´Office automation should be planned from design stage for getting maximum benefit´ avers Thanik B, Director, Business Development and Strategy- Eco Buildings, Schneider Electric India ´For instance, when lighting systems are incorporated at the design stage, lighting controls can be seamlessly integrated with IBMS (Integrated Building Management Systems) for controlling and monitoring both HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) and lighting from one BMS (Building Management Systems) screen. Also same Cat5/6 cable can be used for lighting control, VDI (Variax Digital Interface) and other building services, thus optimising the cost´ he adds.
Similarly working as a team, right from the start yields the best results opined many professionals. ´Generally it is a chain of people with whom we work like the architect, electrical consultants, who have the necessary knowledge about automation and understand the client´s needs. We work closely discussing the requirements, current trends, possible solutions and arrive at an optimum solution based on various factors´ says Sameer Saxena , Vice President - Sales & Marketing, Legrand India. Concurs Subramanian: ´We engage with architects and clients right from early project stage providing them inputs through software simulations and benchmarking with international building standards on the right design and right materials to be used´.
Architect Jay Shah, Director, Access Architects also stresses the need for early intervention: ´Ideally, the concept of smart offices should be included from the concept development phase, as many issues can affect the overhead costs. For example, the façade that is used on a building exterior can affect the amount of air-conditioning used in an office, which is directly proportional to its overhead costs. The building may have to be designed, keeping in mind the sun´s rays through the year and its effect. These external design solutions pay a critical role in the success of making an office smart´
Even acoustics design should be considered at the design stage says Subramanian explaining the reasons behind: ´Any good acoustic design looks at three basic principles - intelligent layout (separating noise producing areas from noise sensitive areas) sound insulation (ensuring minimal sound transmission between rooms) and sound absorption ( interior materials should absorb excess sound to improve communication and reduce noise related distraction.)´
He however adds that in case of existing spaces, solutions can be given through proper acoustic retrofit treatments after analysing the problem. Even in other areas automation can be introduced in existing buildings, more so with wireless technology gaining ground.
Concerns and Challenges
However, all is not glittery with the smart offices. There are some concerns and challenges - the possibility of unauthorised access, unwillingness of the employees to adapt to new systems and huge financial investments.
Initial high investment is a major deterrant says Naveen Borkar, Design Manager, Interface Flor India: ´The initial investment is high and the return on investment takes considerable time. In addition unavailability of local expertise to operate and maintain the systems is another problem´ No doubt there are challenges ahead but the offices are definitely marching towards an unprecedented degree of sophistication and intelligence.
Director- Marketing, Innofitt Systems
Smart offices comprise of automation (reduced involvement of humans, particularly non value adding activities), employee-centric (in terms of comfort, health, convenience), above two points leading to quantum leap in terms of employee and visitor experience.
Joint Managing Director, Square Foot
Clients are now demanding ´fun´ flooring as against earlier preferences for marble/ stone tiles. Carpets are also becoming a thing of the past with many going for heterogeneous vinyl flooring which can imitate the look of wooden flooring or a green turf, which are also sound absorbent, easy to clean and their smooth surface supports walking.
Artificial turf (grass), with no water requirement and zero maintenance, is the latest trend in office exteriors used for landscaping and near parking lots.
Energy edit Thanik B,
Director- Business Development and Strategy- Eco Buildings, Schneider Electric India
There is a clear trend of LED lamps and control solution for LED lamps being used in smart offices for energy efficiency. Wireless ZigBee solutions are being used more in existing offices.
Sound solution Venkat Subramanian,
Managing Director- Gyproc Business, Saint-Gobain India.
Wall or partition design in smart offices should have minimal sound transmission between rooms to ensure privacy and to act as a passive fire protection barrier, both of which can be achieved with lightweight drywall systems. Offices are moving towards sound absorbing ceilings, as they due to their large surface area, can also improve the acoustic comfort.
Access apps Shyam Motwani,
Executive Vice President and Business Head, Godrej Locking Solutions & Systems An online access control system equipped with RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology, integrated with a time and attendance system is one of the foremost solutions used in Smart offices in India today. In addition, fingerprint and/or digital keypad solutions, RFID-based door locks for restricted access, access control systems compatible with points of sale such as vending machines, door controls, boom barriers and tripods are also in demand. Largely, IT/ITES offices opt for access-control systems, banks for mechanical locking solutions and alarm systems, while other marketing and related services go for combinations of digital and mechanical security systems.
Market meet Sameer Saxena,
Vice President - Sales & Marketing, Legrand India
We believe in one to one marketing strategy where we first get to know the customers´ requirements and then offer tailor-made optimum solution. It is more of a professional partnership.
Biophilic bond Naveen Borkar,
Design Manager, Interface Flor India
The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace survey commissioned by Interface has revealed that employees who work in environments with natural elements are more productive, more creative and have a higher level of well-being. The beauty of biophilic design is that it can be applied both in a large scale as well as in small scales with minimal changes in the existing office environments, like just adding indoor plants, or changing the location of work desks so they face the windows etc.
Director, Vishwa Safety Glass
Today glass internal partitions are in demand as they are significant space savers. While an aluminium and fabric partition will need at least 75 mm space between tables, glass partitions require only 8mm. This space reduction multiplies over many workstations and can lead to overall savings in rentals, electricity and air-conditioning.
Marketing Head, Philips Lighting India
The ´Internet of Things´ is the reigning trend today in lighting. LED lighting with its customisable nature has led to the emergence of connected lighting like sensors, wireless networks and LED lighting being managed as a whole lighting solution, at the touch of a handheld device.
Uli Gwinner,Chief Executive Officer, Steelcase Asia Pacific
Of the various aspects considered while designing furniture, privacy would top the list, followed by the needs of a palette of posture (standing height, sitting height, lounge seating etc) and palette of place (areas of the office that supports the type of work being done).
Director , Spacewood Office Solutions.
Today smart and automated offices demand compact yet ergonomic workspaces. Furniture has evolved to meet these demands through usage of better materials, multi-utility partition screens, efficient wire management, combination storages, etc. There is an increased usage of environment friendly wood based raw materials which have very low /negligible formaldehyde emission and wood species coming from sustainable source.
Director, Access Architects
The building automation systems along with the lighting requirements and in accordance with the climate control data analysis, can help to design a smart office better. For this Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the best tool which helps to design more efficiently, as it combines all the data fed into it, along with the design by the architect to give you the exact model of how the building will be after construction. Any kind of clashes, design discrepancies or faults will come to light in the design development phase itself.
Smart Parking System
Tinynode SA, the Swiss company specialising in wireless vehicle detection systems for outdoor car parking, has recently introduced new features of A4 and B4 sensors . These new sensors provide a simple, cost-effective and reliable way for detecting if a parking lot is free or occupied, offering data reliability exceeding 98 percent. Installed above or flush with the ground, Tinynode´s sensors rely on a patented, lowest-power, multi-hop, self-configuring radio communication protocol enabling a number of applications for street level, multi-storey and time-limited parking lots, electric vehicle recharge stations etc. The users´ experience can be further enhanced by smoothly integrating Tinynode´s solutions with panels, displays, mobile apps, and mobile payment systems. Already deployed successfully in smart parking projects across Europe, Tinynode´s sensors are easy to install and maintain, with batteries lasting up to 10 years.
(For more information : visit www.tinynode.com)
Global studies on workplaces conducted by two different companies, Steelcase and Interface reveal some interesting facts and figures. Here are the highlights :
Steelcase Study (Conducted in 2007 and 2014 )
- 59 percent of workers mentioned noise as the main bothersome element.
- Thermal discomfort was third bothersome element among European white collars with 43 percent complaining about temperature.
- 36 percent complained about not having enough control over lighting and 29 percent of them said they do not have enough daylight.
- 45 percent employees world over are suffering from acute neck pain called ´text neck´ due to posture problems caused by their ´texting´ practices at work.
Interface survey (The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace 2015)
- Employees working environments with natural elements report 15 per cent increase in well-being, 6 per cent increase in productivity and 15 per cent increase in creativity.
- Office design was important to workers with 33 per cent saying that it would unequivocally affect their decision whether or not to work somewhere. In India the percentage was 67, more than double the global average.
- Alarmingly, in India 49 percent of workers (above global average of 47 per cent) reported having no natural light.
- While choosing features for ideal office, natural light topped the list.
- According to Indian workers the ideal biophilic office would include: natural light (50 per cent) plants indoors (20 per cent) neutral colours (18 per cent) outdoor garden (16 per cent) and lake view (15 per cent.)
- Over one third of global workers (39 per cent) said they would feel most productive at their own desk in a solitary office, while 36 per cent said they would feel most productive in an open plan office.
- Indian workers bucked the trend with 46 per cent feeling most productive in an open plan office, compared with 29 per cent opting for a solitary space.
- On an average 28 per cent of office workers had no quiet space to work. India had significantly lower numbers with 13 per cent unable to find a quiet space.
- Flexible working came in as a surprisingly low choice, with just 11 per cent of global workers and 12 per cent of Indian workers opting for it.
Uli Gwinner, Chief Executive Officer, Steelcase Asia Pacific discusses the vital aspects that impact the office workers behaviour
Noise has always been present in the workplace. However, with open plan offices, increasing density of workstations, mobile phones conversations, ôleakingö has increased dramatically. Studies have shown that a very noisy environment can decrease the work effectiveness by 20 percent. In our own survey, 59 percent mentioned noise as the main bothersome element. The sound intensity level can be brought to less than 45dB, considered ideal by most professionals by : insulating the building with sound reflecting external shell and sound absorbing internal partitions; adapting the space planning philosophy which guarantees a right balance between individual and team work ; and encouraging people to speak with low voice, discrete phone rings, use meeting spaces when conversing with others etc.
Thermal comfort is the third main bothersome element. For an optimum thermal comfort throughout the seasons, the ideal temperature is 21¦ with variations of 2-3¦. The minimum acceptable humidity within a work environment during winter is 30 percent and in summer, a 40 to 60 percent humidity ratio will be comfortable. The air speed should not exceed 0.2 metres / second.
Colours also impact human behaviour. Warm colours tend to stimulate, while cool colours generally soothe. Vibrant reds and oranges are great in places occupied for temporary periods; calm and soft colours on large surfaces will relax and remove stress. Likewise, choosing bright colours for chairs and panels will encourage and stimulate their users. A good formula is : 75 percent warm hues and 25 percent cool hues, or vice versa.
Most office lighting systems primarily support paper-based work which means that computers create some physical challenges with constant eyes adjusting between the screen, the white paper and the desk. In our survey 36 percent of workers complained about not having enough control over lighting and 29 percent said that they did not have enough daylight. These issues can cause stress, headaches resulting in productivity loss. A quality lighting should have the right balance between ambient, task and accent lighting. Following are the right illumination for the tasks listed: meeting: 300 lux, reading/writing: 500 lux, PC work: 200 to 300 lux, in between: 200 lux.
Project: Westfield Sydney Headquarters, Sydney, Australia
Lighting Solution Provider: Philips Lighting
Background: The corporate headquarters of Westfield, the world´s largest retail property group was designed to minimise the use of natural resources and provide a more productive and comfortable workspace . The client wanted to reduce the energy requirement for lighting as well as enhance the working environment by maximizing natural light where possible.
Solution: Usage of Philips Dynalite specified Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) technology, as it increases energy savings, simple to install/maintain, provides maximum flexibility and is easy to modify. The DALI lighting control system monitors and controls lighting within the office. Energy costs are lowered through daylight harvesting and with dimming controls and occupancy sensors. Each luminaire in the building is individually addressable providing flexibility in control and monitoring. Lights can easily be grouped and regrouped into different control areas without reconfiguring any fixed control wiring.
The entire system centrally monitored through the Building Management System (BMS), allows for the automatic identification of failed lamps and ballasts. The dimming luminaires installed around office perimeters, enables automatic adjustment of artificial lighting to balance with natural light levels.
The lighting control system is interfaced through a Philips Dynalite DDNI-BACnet switching device to the BMS. After hours, the BMS assumes control over the lighting, HVAC and security systems and switches off the lighting after a preset time. Dynalite DPN eight-button user interface panels installed near the lift areas allows staff to activate lighting when needed. The DPN panels also installed in the boardroom allows the selection of preset lighting scenes such as ´conference´, ´presentation´ and ´meeting´. A Philips Dynalite DTK622/RS232 AMX interface controls the audio-visual systems and allows supervision of the lighting through the AMX controls. The entire lighting system is managed through Philips Dynalite´s Mapview software, which is accessed through a head-end computer in the security area, from where all lighting systems are monitored and managed.
Benefits: The cutting-edge lighting solution not only helped Westfield to achieve both a 5-star NABERS Energy rating and a 6-star Green Star rating, but has created a new benchmark for energy savings, occupancy comfort and flexibility. Together with other energy-efficient building designs included in this project, the lighting control system has helped reduce energy consumption by 30 per cent.
Monitor Stand from Innofitt
This table monitor stand with user adjustable settings for height, angle, distance and cable management for neat wiring, saves on table space and ensures maximum flexibility and user comfort. Compatible with all VESA Standard Monitors (75 mm & 100 mm) this single monitor stand is priced at Rs.2033
PIR Motion Sensor from Legrand
Operating on Passive Infrared (PIR) technology, this outdoor motion sensor detects movement from the radiation that occurs by difference in ambient and human body heat when a human being is in motion. It comes with 360O movements and adjustable installation pattern
Orion from Godrej Interio
Orion cabin furniture solution with an executive desk, a side and overhead units, a tack-board, a credenza and an interaction table is a perfect fit for a senior executive office in corporates with space constraints. Inspired by the Orion constellation, from where it borrows its trapezoidal lines, Orion´s prize starts from `39,000 excluding taxes.
Knock N Lock from Godrej Locking solutions
This access system based on the Knock Code technology, uses a series of mechanical knocks that transfer encrypted information to open the lock through any solid surface of the door. Its other features include time scheduling, audit trails, remote addition and deletion of access.
Quantum Vue from Loutron Electronics
Quantum Vue Facility Management Software tool empowers one to manage one´s building functions from any tablet, PC or Smartphone. One can control and monitor area lighting scenes and zones, rename areas, scenes and shade groups, enable/disable day lighting, control and monitor shades, view energy and power usage graphs and run custom reports to compare energy consumption across areas and time periods, adjust daylight harvesting settings etc.
Media:scape Hoodie from Steelcase
Inspired by sound proof technology, media:scape Hoodie provides enough privacy for focused work - whether it is one-on-one interaction, an intensive task, taking a call or simply relaxing. It offers an inspired way to shape space and create visual and physical boundaries .
Signature from Vishwa Safety
Signature, the latest in the Vishwa Spanlam range of mounted partitions for workstations , is made of unique writable glass where one can pick any image and have it printed giving it a personalised touch.
Innofitt Systems, Mumbai
Tel: 022-6627 6677
Legrand India Mumbai
Schneider Electric India, Gurgaon
Classic Floorings & Interiors
(Square Foot) Mumbai
Tel: 022-4047 6211
Saint Gobain India, Mumbai
Tel: 1800 103 7897 (Customer Care)
Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems,
Mumbai, Tel: 09820349494
Vishwa Safety Glass, Bengaluru
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org /
InterfaceFlor India, Bengaluru
Steelcase Asia Pacific Mumbai
Tel: 022-6121 3500
Philips Lighting India, Gurgaon
Tel: 1800 102 2929
Spacewood Office Solutions, Nagpur.
Tel: 07104 - 236737
Godrej Interio Mumbai
Lutron Electronics Gurgaon
Tel: 0124 439 0130
Access Architects Mumbai