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Automation. Its just one of those buzz words that almost sounds as if it was tailor made for today’s hyper connected world of internet blog posts and twitter feeds. From home automation systems to food and beverage processing and even heavy duty manufacturing, it just seems to be everywhere.

But what exactly does automation have to do with office interiors? and can it really make a substantial difference to modern workspaces?

Well, according to the Webster dictionary, Automation is defined as, ‘the technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically’. This provides us with a clue regarding the real world implications of this technology and how it can help us do more with the workspaces we create.

To truly understand the implications of this technology, we have to look at how workplaces have evolved over the last 2 decades in response to changing work cultures. Reduced vertical hierarchies, changing demographics, increased adoption of digital devices and a more collaborative approach have led interior designers and architects to create spaces that take these changes into consideration.

As a result, today’s offices are a combination of individual desk areas, open collaborative spaces as well as dedicated quiet areas where employees can concentrate without distractions. This is where automation enters the picture, in response to a need for managing this eclectic mix of different spaces, each unique in its own way, each with its specific energy requirements. A 20 person conference room has a different energy requirement than a private cubicle, both in terms of frequency of use as well as the amount of energy needd.

Interior Designers & Contractors must look at everything from automated Lighting and HVAC systems that can make a massive impact on overall energy consumption to creating complex networking systems that provide security as well as fast, easy access. They must take security and emergency systems into account using video feeds and automated locks that ensure the right people have access to certain parts of the same building. This approach is also factored in when it comes to the organisation’s insurance purposes.

But perhaps, more importantly, it is crucial to always begin with the way the organisation actually works, designing these systems based on actual needs and behaviour. We must think of the employees day-to-day experience from their first cup of tea in the morning to that late night meeting right before they leave for the day.

While we may have just skimmed the surface in this specific post, it is fairly obvious that automation will continue to play an increasingly important role in workplaces now and in the future.