Smart Offices? The Coolest Tech in Offices Around the World

Hanna Mansson
Hanna Mansson|

We all know that technology is making our lives easier and more efficient and nowhere is this more visible, or valuable, than in the workplace.

Smart offices are springing up everywhere from Amsterdam to Abu Dhabi, significantly improving the work environment for millions of workers and the green environment for the whole planet. Here we take a look at some of the coolest tech in use in offices around the world.

Smart lighting

Currently commercial buildings account for around 40% of the world’s electricity consumption. That’s a whole lot of wasted energy.

Smart Offices - Lighting

By embedding sensors in walls, ceilings and even the lights things like light, motion, temperature, humidity and infrared can all be recorded and synced up to a buildings management system so that workers can control them. This is exactly what’s happening at The Edge in Amsterdam, which has been dubbed ‘The Smartest Building in the World’. Here, workers can control everything from the lights to the room temperature via an app on their smartphone. 

Smart heating

Temperature is a big thing in offices. Too hot and it’s difficult to concentrate, too cold and workers can’t think about anything else. Technology now exists where workers can pre-set their optimum ambient room temperature (again, using a smart phone app), which will then follow them around the office – automatically adjusting the climate to meet personal preference using sensors. 

Smart Offices: Control your own heating from a phone or ipad

Image: Carlo Ratti Associati

This is exactly what the employees of Carlo Ratti Associates get to experience every day in the company’s Agnelli Foundation headquarters in Torino, Italy. Best of all, when the room’s empty it automatically enters a stand-by mode, cutting electricity usage much like a computer does when not in use.

Smart desks

Back in London, building consultant Arup has been experimenting with smart desk technology by embedding sensors in desks, allowing workers to control things like lighting and heating. The information gathered can also be used to measure occupancy with a view to making the best use of space. At The Edge in Amsterdam, everyone is assigned a hot-desk daily based on occupancy levels, with whole sections of the building shutdown when unoccupied to reduce energy wastage.

Smart Offices: The Human Hamster wheel standing desk

Image credit: Robb Godshaw

And what about developments to the desks themselves? Well, the human hamster wheel might be just two designers (Goddshaw and Doenlan) having fun, but standing desks really could be the future – research by the Mayo Clinic suggests that spending more of your day standing reduces the risks of obesity, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.

Smart printing

Forget printer-jams and blotchy print-outs. 3D printing has arrived and the implications for the office are quite incredible.

Smart Offices: 3D printing

Image: Carbon 3D/Youtube

In theory this device allows workers to produce almost anything they could need on the same day – for example, printing components to build a working prototype to demo to a client – negating the need for shipping, packaging and courier services. Taking this one step further, earlier this year Dubai unveiled the world’s first 3D-printed office building, constructed using an industrial 3D printer.

Do you own or work in a smart office? Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.


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