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When it comes to working in an office, there are certain situations that will be familiar to many people across the globe that result in your working environment being negatively affected and can end up reducing your productivity. Whether it’s too hot on a summer afternoon, too dim on a winter's morning or too loud to hear yourself think, it can be extremely off putting.
Thankfully for employees of Deloitte in the Netherlands they no longer have to worry about these trivial annoyances, thanks to working in the smartest office building in the world, called “The Edge”. This building, which also received the highest sustainability score ever awarded by BREEAM of 98.4%, is self-sustainable as well as beautiful and could well provide us with an insight to how our own environments will develop in the future.
Photographer: Ronald Tilleman
OVG Real Estate, the building’s developers in partnership with PLP Architecture, have incorporated a mix of Internet of Things and Building Automation applications to create the most connected office space in the world, providing a personalised experience for those lucky enough to spend their days doing business there.
So what makes this Amsterdam building so “smart” and environmentally friendly?
Well, The Edge runs on renewable energy harvested through solar panels on the outside of the structure, flushes toilets and irrigates gardens through collected rain water and even heats and cools itself with a revolutionary aquifer thermal energy storage system. They even provide free car charging points for employees (again using solar power) and have created a friendly habitat for local birds, bats and bees to thrive.
Photographer: Ronald Tilleman
Now onto the connected, smart aspects of the building. The central hub of this connectivity is via a specifically developed smartphone app, which uses the workers daily schedule to figure out what kind of workspace each person will need for that day, be it a sitting desk, a standing desk, a meeting room, or a quiet concentration room. No person has an assigned seat — the concept is called "hot desking."
You may think that this would result in a number of issues around personal preference. If you sit in a different seat every day then the environment will be different and off-putting? Well not quite, that smartphone app that we mentioned earlier also allows each worker to control the lighting level and room temperature of their workspace!
Even finding a parking space is made simple, yet secure. Arriving at the car park, a camera analyses the workers license plate to verify their identity. Once the gate raises they are then guided via the app to an available parking space.
The developers also took employee breaks into consideration, by including a number of coffee bars which have espresso machines that actually remember how the workers take their coffee! Now that is impressive!
There is even a robot security guard that patrols during the evenings and is able to identify intruders through its camera and alert security in the case of a false alarm.
These features are just the tip of the iceberg. Words cannot do this smart building justice; I would recommend watching Bloomberg’s video at the top of this page to really bring it to life. It absolutely blew me away and I really hope that this new way of working is the direction that more businesses will be heading in the near future.
For more information I would suggest reading the Bloomberg feature article here.