Meet the Minds – Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the SMARTEST of them all – By Michelle van Weverwijk

12CU – Meet the Minds Nr 5

This month, we are putting smart office technologies to the test. I took a look at one of the biggest international Smart Office jams. RBC Waterpark place in Toronto. I wanted to know whether being “so smart” lead to actual ROI for RBC or not. Why? Well, I have always been the kind of person only to take tools seriously when I have seen their positive results in practice.

Image by Iconics UK Ltd.

WE ARE GOING ON A TRIP

The last couple of months offered the perfect opportunity to conduct my little experiment. I spend time visiting old friends in Ottawa Canada, and while I was there, I heard rumours about this “smartest building of them all” in Toronto. Now, with smart office technologies, everything (OBVIOUSLY) sounds smart, but the question whether it is remains somewhere up in the air. So, I turned to great uncle Google to find the address and visit them. Before my visit, I came up with my list of smart-jam checkpoints.

I based the list on what I thought to be the ultimate trilogy of smart office technology.

  1. Increased productivity
  2. Saving money (can you blame me, We’re talking business after all)
  3. Lessening environmental footprints ( yes, I am one of those hipsters)

RBC WATERPARK PLACE | TORONTO, CANADA

Picture by SkyriseCities

Allow me to bring you along during that moment visiting RBC Waterpark place: I opened the door, and while stepping inside, I had to blink at least twice to take it all in. Grand, white, spacious, glass… so much glass and people seemed, well, happy.

Still, what I went inside to see was not only the interior but especially someone to talk to about the results of the project. Finally, I found a Facility Manager willing to sit down with me. He explained that RBC built this Smart Office to enhance employee satisfaction and productivity. I can only think of one word to describe this office: uber-connected. The office directs employees to the quickest elevator; It adjusts the height of your desk soon as you sit down. The building even recognises the number of people sitting in a meeting room and adjusts the room temperature accordingly. For me, to see all integrated technologies work together as one vast technological eco-system blew my mind. I took some time to talk to the people working there to check off my smart-jam check-points before going back to “reality”.

Flabbergasted as I was, I sat down for a coffee nearby to sort through my thoughts. It honestly felt like I had just spent an hour inside a chapter of my favourite science fiction story. Believe me; I’m just a simple (wo)man trying to make my way in the Smart Office universe managing 12CU’s marketing. I know that our team is working on similar tools I saw at RBC. As a consequence, I understand it would seem weird for me to feel this surprised but I honestly was. I guess I am just more like an ordinary Harry, uncertain of how all these smart technologies come together and transform a building and its users.

I managed to get over the initial shock and started looking over the answers of the employees RBC gave when it dawned on me. Instead of feeling overwhelmed the people at RBC felt relieved. They felt more productive, check. Facility indicated they saved money in space and electricity, check. The Co2 output had even decreased significantly over the last year, so yes even environmental friendliness, CHECK.

Funny enough seeing these answers reminded me of conversations I had with 12CU about their product and the future when I became part of the 12CU team nine months ago. I mentioned it once before in another Meet-the-Minds article, but the gist of it was that smart office technologies are all about people. Additionally, it is not something for the future. It is something we need today. As Star Wars writers put it so adequately:

“In time, the suffering of your people will persuade you to see our point of view.’ Obviously, the quote is just a joke. But Star Wars does make a point. Why not take a lesson from RBC and use tools like ours to improve the workplace of your employees?

Authors note

When I found myself on a plane to take me home, I held a better understanding of the company I am proud to work for. At 12CU the future is just so clear: show everyone that smart office technologies are not intimidating. No, 12CU works to keep smart office technologies simple to simplify the lives of clients and illustrate that transformation can start today. RBC showed me that the mandate held by 12CU is realistic. Working towards becoming a smart office is just a matter of doing so. Our lives, our worlds and the way we work are all influenced by today’s digitalisation. It seems almost ridiculous to protest the integration of technologies to have a building serve us. Doesn’t it just sound like a logical next step? Or is that just me? Anyways I’ll leave you all to answer these questions for yourselves.

Because (1) I cannot help my nerdy nature and (2) I was still looking to end this blog post funnily, I’ll round it up with one last Star Wars reference:  ‘You can’t stop the change, any more than you can prevent the suns from setting.’ So let’s see how we can make change exciting working together.