We have covered the idea of a smart workplace a few times on EID (for example here and here, but it seems there is always a new innovation around the corner that is far enough advanced to be worth revisiting the topic. The next example in this series is The Edge, Deloitte’s Amsterdam headquarters.
It knows where you live. It knows what car you drive. It knows who you’re meeting with today and how much sugar you take in your coffee. (At least it will, after the next software update.) This is the Edge, and it’s quite possibly the smartest office space ever constructed.
What I like most about The Edge is that it combines many of the design approaches that we have covered before and adds a few additional wrinkles.
My personal favorite is the use of customized spaces. Instead of having an assigned cubicle, employees check in with a smart badge and can select spaces that fit the needs of the work they have to do. The system is smart enough to check your calendar, review your personal preferences, and select something appropriate. For example, you might need a huddle room that has two chairs at a small table (like a café), a whiteboard, a closable door, and a coffee machine. Or you might need a treadmill desk with a large screen on the facing wall.
Since employees don’t have an assigned space, there are lockers to store personal belongings. Low-tech, but pretty useful. And it shows they have thought the situation through.
There are some varieties of workspaces to promote creativity and/or collaboration. The building has balcony seats that overlook a garden. It has serendipity spaces (cafes, bars, lounges) where you can bump into someone by chance or perhaps join a conversation into which you can inject some fresh ideas.
The Edge also integrates analytics to make it smarter. Each employee’s badge, smartphone, and integrated beacons are linked to offices (to set features like climate control), parking (no security, no tickets, no payments), laptop docks (so all of your needed applications are preloaded), and more. They are also linked to the fitness center so that the treadmill can automatically load your favorite running program.
The analytics can mine the data to find trends that enable them to add new services or improve the existing ones. Continuous improvement is important so that it can keep up with new trends as they emerge in workplace design or technology.
They also do a good job integrating ecological features. The outside walls are covered in solar panels. There are lots of windows to leverage natural lighting. The motion detectors in the rooms tell the janitorial service which rooms have been used so they don’t clean the ones that haven’t.
Is this a place you would like to work? Or is it too much? Too flexible for our natural instinct to prefer routines? To invasive on personal information?
Image Credit: Raimond Wouda