The comforts of home are usually confined to the home, or so the common wisdom goes. After all, how could anyone expect to take the conveniences of a smart home with them – – unless, of course, they work in a smart office. The idea of a connected building is not new, but Honeywell has taken it to the next level. Digital Trends was invited to its Atlanta headquarters for a firsthand look at the future of the smart office and the implications it has not only for employees, but also for the way offices interact with the world around them.
You might know Honeywell as the company behind the Honeywell Lyric T5, one of the most popular smart thermostats on the market. What you probably don’t know is that Honeywell no longer focuses on smart home technology. In 2018, Honeywell spun its smart home production off into a separate company called Resideo. Now, Honeywell focuses on larger-scale connected buildings such as smart offices, airports, warehouses, and much more.
Gone are the days of keycards. Now you need only hold your phone (with the right app open) to a door panel. With a soft beep, the lock clicks open and grants entry. That app is the idea behind Vector, the app at the cornerstone of Honeywell’s connected office facility.
The Vector app is where the magic happens. It acts as a way for employees to move through the building, reserve meeting rooms, leave feedback, and request changes –p all from a single place. More importantly, Vector streamlines the workflow so employees spend less time dealing with minutia. The effect is improved morale and efficiency during the workday and an overall increase in employee satisfaction.
In a busy office, an empty conference room is a rare commodity. The Vector app shows employees exactly what conference rooms are available and allows them to reserve the room for the required amount of time with just a few taps on their phone.
No two buildings are laid out the same. The Honeywell Vector app also provides employees with a navigation system that makes it easy to make your way between areas, including an estimate of how many seconds it will take to reach the destination while walking. Another interesting feature is the heat map built into the Vector app. In offices with an open floor plan, finding an empty computer can be difficult. Sensors installed underneath desks show which spots are occupied, so employees don’t have to spend time wandering around looking for an empty workspace.
One of the most impressive features of the Vector app is employees’ ability to request a temperature increase or decrease. This is restricted to a specific temperature range (usually between 68 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit), but a change of even a few degrees can make a big difference. Employees can rate rooms based on their comfort, which ties into the next feature.
The Vector app allows employees to rate office spaces based on their conditions. Problems like poor lighting, broken chairs, and even missing technical components can all be left as part of a review. The information then finds its way to the facilities manager, who can repair the issue and improve the quality of the overall office area.
The goal of the Honeywell Vector app is to change the way the average employee approaches work.
The goal of the Honeywell Vector app is to change the way the average employee approaches work. The feedback, navigation, and temperature control features lessen the divide between the employee and management. The app makes the workplace feel more convenient and inviting.
The algorithms that power the Vector app aren’t limited to just employee input. Multiple systems track occupancy and other factors to optimize utility use. During my tour, the system reported energy savings of $42,000 for this year alone. It worked to make the space greener while improving Honeywell’s bottom line.
Honeywell is not the same company it once was. The employee base is now 63% software engineers. The company’s website declares that “the future is what we make it,” and its implementation of big ideas backs up that philosophy. Connected offices and connected cities lay the groundwork for what could become a future straight out of science fiction — a data-driven world where the benefits of technology go far beyond smart thermostats. And from what Honeywell told me, this iteration of smart offices is just the beginning.
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