Oct 22, 2019 in Viewpoint

Privacy and the smart office: is Big Brother watching you?

Smart offices support employees in the new way of working perfectly. Autonomy increases and as a result, the productivity rate goes up. But also collaboration and knowledge sharing improve, because technology helps colleagues find each other in the office, by sharing their location. However, smart technology sometimes sparks the privacy debate. Employees wonder if their boss knows where they are, and what happens to their data? Our CEO Sander Schutte and CTO Jasper Schuurmans sat down together with presenter Martine Hauwert in the radio show Let’s Talk Business to discuss the illusions around privacy and the smart office. Listen here to the first part in Dutch.

Esmeé van Vliet
by Esmeé van Vliet
Podcast privacy and the smart office
Our CEO Sander Schutte and CTO Jasper Schuurmans sat down together with presenter Martine Hauwert in the radio show Let’s Talk Business to discuss the illusions around privacy and the smart office

Anonymous data

There are roughly two ways to use data in the smart office. You can use data anonymously, to get more insight into the occupancy levels of the building. This helps facility managers adjust the needs of employees to space. As Jasper explains in the podcast, some companies struggle with the occupancy of meeting rooms. Most meeting rooms are always booked, but in reality, they are often empty. With a sensor, you can collect data to measure if someone is actually in the meeting room. And with the Mapiq app, you can then see which meeting rooms are no-shows, so employees can hop-in for a quick ad hoc meeting!

Personal data

However, there is also the personal data. We use this data to help employees find each other within the office, to stimulate collaboration. This is the kind of data, employees sometimes fear. This data can be collected by WiFi or iBeacons, and with it, we can determine your location. We can only do this if you allow it. You can opt-in or opt-out anytime. But just to be clear, we don’t see who’s exactly behind which desk, how long you’ve taken a lunch break or if you’re on the toilet.

The challenge for employers

As Jasper states in the podcast, transparency is really important. Employees need to know that their data isn’t being sold to third parties, and it isn’t used to check in on them. Data can help them work better by seeing which meeting rooms are available, where there is a place to work, and what suggestions are for the perfect workplace. And yeah, we find it pretty cool you can see where colleagues are at, so you don’t have to call, skype or send a Slack message. Don’t you?

More about Mapiq? Listen here to the story behind Mapiq, the trends in the world of smart offices and the events about the future of work, along with our collaboration with Vecos, Avex and Ahrend. More about the smart office ecosystem Sander mentions, you can read in our whitepaper.

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