Apple's unveiling of the iPhone in 2007 revolutionised the role of mobile phones and since then users have become dependent on their devices to manage everything from shopping and social media to business and banking. As such, it's now estimated that smartphone users interact with their devices nearly 3,000 times a day as they navigate multiple apps whilst remaining permanently available for calls and texts. With two-thirds of people running out of battery before 5pm the expectation and need to be connected 24/7 has created a new challenge for employers - simply keeping their teams powered-up.

12 years on from the iPhone launch and Apple's announcements continue to shape our expectations of connectivity. As of September 2019, all iPhones manufactured will have wireless charging capability, and one billion devices with wireless charging capability are expected to be in circulation by the end of 2019. This development goes beyond market-changing; if we know anything from Apple announcements, it's that they have a huge influence on consumer habits, too. For employers, this development presents a unique opportunity to get ahead of the curve.

By enabling the always-on habits of their staff with connectivity and power, businesses can boost engagement, productivity and efficiency, and also future proof their organisation for the changing habits of consumers and employers.

With one of the world's leading smart tech manufacturers recognising that power is the foundation to connectivity, it won't be long before others follow suit to meet demand and prevent loyal consumers being priced out of the latest innovations. Within a week of Apple's 2019 announcement, Huawei unveiled fast wireless supercharging and improved reverse wireless charging to its Mate30 series, showing a full commitment to wireless technology.

flexible offering

With the rise of flexible working, office spaces are transforming and employees are shunning the traditional confines of their desks - opting to move freely from desk to meeting room to break-out area. The rise of the third place - social spaces that bridge the gap between the traditional home and work environments - highlights that this preference for fluid, co-working space is here to stay. A recent report found that 71% of workers described feeling more creative since joining a coworking space, and 62% said their work had improved.

Because of this on-the-move, co-working culture, employees are snacking on power to stay connected, however, sustaining this access to power can be a pain point. To accommodate this demand there is an opportunity for employers to make power - the critical foundation to connectivity - as convenient and accessible as possible in as many spaces as possible.

By embracing smart technology such as wireless power, employers also see a spike in employee engagement and staff retention. Traditionally engagement was boosted through benefits and perks such as company cars, but today's workforce have different priorities - they simply want to work in an environment where they feel valued and stimulated. Smart workplaces that can predict employees' every need can engender loyalty and mean that employees feel personally and virtually connected to the business.

Smart wireless charging drives engagement by acting as a trigger point for seamless and personalised experiences like meeting booking, hot-desk check-in which automatically enables facilities and will kick-start a meeting, conference call or work session without the need to manually login and load apps.

Such smart technology will not only help employers to retain talent, but will also help with recruitment. Studies show that over 87% of employees who don't feel engaged at work are looking for a job elsewhere, and businesses can take advantage of smart technology to make their environments more attractive to potential employees.

A 360° view of how the workspace functions

Another aspect of the workplace experience which smart technology is revolutionising is building efficiency. Your average office building is running at a noticeably low 30-40% capacity. The increase in remote and flexible working is undoubtedly impacting how much - or how little - commercial properties are being used.

As part of an IoT connected technology stack, smart tech can give companies a clear picture of what spaces are being used and when, allowing them to make informed decisions on space utilisation, reducing wastage and cost per square foot. With smart wireless charging, multiple digital charge-points throughout an office - in meeting rooms or on desks - enable employees to check in and out as they move, giving employers the data to make smarter, more efficient decisions. Facilities managers can see real-time reports on which rooms and desks are available and can direct staff towards under-utilised facilities via push notifications and virtual wayfinding.

Businesses will also benefit from invaluable insights on employee behaviour; smart technologies capture data which enables employers to understand their staff and their experiences at work. When it comes to smart wireless charging, charging spots connect via WiFi to the Internet of Things and they are managed remotely at scale. Employee behaviour data, including charging sessions, hyper-location and insight on dwell time are then provided through a dashboard in the cloud platform. Such robust information will transform the employee experience and enable a data-driven culture based on fact rather than assumption, and this new level of business intelligence will be key to driving efficiency.

An efficient solution

Through embracing smart workplaces, businesses will see an improvement in productivity too. Integrated IoT management platforms give businesses full control of their network, allowing them to see real-time updates on connectivity. In the case of wireless charging, employers can manage individual smart charging spots remotely including connectivity and power delivered.

Real-time alerts inform on diagnostics detected, with many issues resolved over-the-air using remote tools for debugging and diagnostics management. This type of cloud-based platform reduces operational and maintenance costs and prevents faults from hindering the productivity of employees.

The new norm

Smartphone advancements are now such that people can make video calls from mountain summits, navigate the route from (almost) any two points in the world and find the solution to any question at the tip of their fingers. The onus is on organisations to recognise that their employees are going to walk into the office every month, every year, with greater expectations for connectivity. Employers that embrace this technological evolution and enable a fully connected workforce, will have the opportunity to shape the world around their needs and demands; increasing productivity and making the working day as seamless as possible.