What is a smart locker system? …and why does every office need smart lockers?

Apr 14, 2022 3:08:22 PM | Team Vecos | 7 minute read

 

As the pandemic accelerated the shift to more flexible ways of working, like hybrid and dynamic, the relevance of smart lockers is greater than ever. A smart locker system can increase the flexible use of a dynamic workplace and decrease facilities management time and wastage. At Vecos, we enable over 1.4 million daily smart locker users, working with organizations such as EY, Deloitte, Microsoft, and Qualcomm. Our latest article explains what a smart locker system is, why any modern office really needs one and the benefits versus traditional office lockers.

 

 

Dynamic offices require new workplace technology

The world of work is evolving fast across the globe. Some trendsetting organizations have already moved to a fully hybrid and dynamic reality. Others are undertaking the development in phases. The more cautious are observing the trends and calculating their next move. No matter what type of organization you are, the global standards in workplace technology are changing, to support the ‘new normal’ of dynamic and hybrid working.


In a more flexible workplace - with people mixing days in the office with days working at home - established ways of using space, and the provision of office furniture and facilities, need to be re-evaluated. The idea is that when people are based at the office, they are free to collaborate, connect and work in the way that suits them best and supports productivity. So, the outcome of an evaluation will quickly highlight that rows of fixed desks, under-desk storage and manual facilities, make less sense and are not really fit for purpose.

“We are witnessing the birth of new global standards in workplace technology in response to major global shifts in how we work – it’s all about providing smart, seamless, scalable and secure workplace facilities. The demand for smart locker systems is sky-rocketing – they’re simply better for the user, manager and the business” Bram Kuipers, Vecos CEO

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The changing rules of the ‘workplace locker’ game

People need to move through a dynamic workplace effortlessly and seamlessly, choosing the location in which they will work, based on the type of work they need to do. In this context, space to work individually and with others is less fixed. And when people are freed from a fixed desk, they need a new style of personal storage not bound to a specific location.
Temporary storage, available on-demand, that is self-service and easy to use, starts to make tons of practical sense. On the softer side, it also provides a more personal space within the shared dynamic space. With this combination of practical and emotional benefits, flexible storage becomes critical to employee productivity and wellbeing.


If the workplace locker strategy is set-up and managed correctly, it can quickly become an enabler for the dynamic workplace. However, if office lockers do not keep up with the pace of change of workstyles, it can cause significant barriers for productivity and flow.

Welcome to the world of smart lockers and the smart locker system.

So, how does a smart locker system work?

Smart locker systems are a combination of hardware (normally an electronic locking mechanism) and software (the operating terminal, management application and user app). The electronic lock is connected to an operating terminal, which is then connected through IoT to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform.

The software platform is the most critical component of a successful smart locker system. It’s where a business defines the criteria under which lockers can be used, automates employee records, and integrates with all the other workplace IoT and IT systems in the workplace digital ecosystem. Leading smart locker platforms are designed to be multi-tenant, secure by design and instantly scalable. Exactly the things you need in times of change.

The smart locker system can be configured for employee-lockers, team-, post & collection-, changing room-, static or day lockers. So, the set-up can be fully customized to the need, as well as be re-configured simply and efficiently as needs change.

 

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An intuitive hassle-free user experience
From a user perspective the experience will be seamless; the technology should work in the background and be integrated with other systems to provide one user interface (this can be a smart phone app). So, they can easily book, unlock, use, and release a flex day locker, find their way, book a meeting room and so much more. All on the go, with a few simple clicks.

Empowers facility management teams
Intelligent infrastructure such as smart locker systems not only empower employees to choose where they want to work and find and use convenient storage throughout the day, but they also provide rich insights and data to aid decision-making for facilities management and real estate teams. The SaaS platform is where all the locker day2day management takes place.

The platform interface enables facilities management teams to manage lockers remotely, to set configurations and rules on how lockers can be used and to get real-time usage data and insights. You can also use a smart locker system to manage, control and optimize locker facilities with the goal to improve the employee experience whilst decreasing the total cost of ownership.

Why are traditional lockers no longer the gold standard?

Did you know that 40% of traditional office lockers go unused? … Interestingly, many organizations have no idea they are wasting too much space and costs, as it is such a big task to manually track and optimize their usage.

There are many limitations that come with choosing traditional key or pin-code lockers. For the user they are often less flexible and more fixed in location. The regular loss of keys and pin-codes is disruptive, the experience is ‘old-skool’ and does not keep in-step with a smart building experience. For facilities managers, many of the same frustrations apply, just on a much larger scale.


• Traditional lockers make locker management a nightmare! 
With the management of traditional workplace lockers, keys are often issued to employees, and manual records are kept logging who has what key(s) – like spreadsheets, sign in/out sheets or other tracking systems. Security is of course paramount, but there are obvious limitations to what’s feasible when keys go missing or people ‘pass over keys’, ‘try and replace lost keys’ and/or ‘swap or share lockers’ without informing FM.

Security can become a real issue, as does managing movers/leavers/joiners, implementing health and safety protocols given COVID-19, and reporting and solving any issues. The manual nature of allocating & managing traditional lockers, also makes it very hard to identify unused lockers, people ‘camping out’ in lockers or people claiming multiple lockers unnecessarily.

In contrast, smart lockers or digital lockers are all connected to the central ‘smart locker system’ so cloud-based records are constantly being generated of several points of data – down to the individual locker occupancy rates or user profiles and usage. With a smart locker system, you can even nudge people (via text messages) to release their locker if it’s not needed – which FM will know based on a ‘not used for XX time’ protocol.

• Traditional lockers do not make the management of ‘change’ easy
With traditional lockers, managing change is time intensive at best and a nightmare ‘jigsaw puzzle’ at worst. Manual systems make the management of leavers and joiners a ‘task’, but imagine the time needed to manage wholesale change such as introducing new COVID-19 cleaning protocols or accommodating new hybrid work schedules for a big workforce.

On the other hand, smart lockers make it easy to manage changes. In the case of employee turnover, there is no panic to rekey a lock - the locker can simply be deactivated from access by the former employee within seconds. Furthermore, smart lockers provide full oversight and full access by the employer. So, there is no longer a need to cut open locks on an employee locker. This saves time and money for the employer.

• Traditional lockers do not provide the security and data of a smart system
The smart locker system keeps several data points to create an audit trail. Staff can be held accountable for loss and/or upkeep of their locker, automatically. Streamlined processes and better inventory control is simplified with smart lockers, which can result in less waste and loss of both productivity and goods. Some of the largest banks in the world work with the smart locker system, as they trust in the technology, knowing it has passed the toughest of data security audits (the Vecos system, for example, is ISO27001 certified).

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What’s the business case for smart lockers versus traditional lockers?

The smart locker system has been designed to adapt and scale as needed, with no end of life. It requires a higher initial investment compared to traditional key or pincode locks, but the return on this investment is typically realized within two to eight months from implementation. The business case already stacks up, but keep reading to see five key areas in which organizations get payback from a smart locker management system:

- Less facility management time needed
The time FM spends on locker managements drops significantly by around three hours per 100 lockers per week.

- Higher employee productivity results
Employees gain one more hour of productivity per 100 lockers per week. This is because they are not spending time looking for available storage or traveling across the building to retrieve their belongings, nor is there wasted time from lost keys or pincodes.

- Fewer physical lockers needed when used dynamically
Smart locker systems require up to 40 percent fewer physical lockers. The management process is streamlined to eradicate poor locker behavior and optimize efficiency in usage.

- Floorspace is optimized with less lockers needed
Less lockers means less furniture on the floorspace. FM can achieve up to 40 percent more floorspace by optimizing their locker management system.

- Energy costs are reduced as no batteries are required
Smart lockers do not require batteries so FMs aren’t required to individually maintain each locker. This can save up to 80 percent in energy costs.

Why does the modern office need a smart locker system?

There are some key features of the smart locker system, that either support the modern dynamic office, or even help take the office experience to the next level. Here’s a quick run-down of the top-10. If you’re interested to read more, check out: Top 10 Features that can Make or Break your Workplace Storage

  1. A more efficient locker strategy – less lockers, less floorspace, more dynamic usage

  2. Smart lockers are designed to be on-demand, self-service and hassle-free

  3. FM’s save up to 90% management time via remote and automated management

  4. It’s a cloud-based, SaaS solution – secure, adaptable, scalable, and always ‘on’ and always up to date

  5. It’s more sustainable– you can do a lot more, with less

  6. Data analytics and reporting is made easy and actionable via the management software

  7. Guaranteed seamless Integration with any existing digital ecosystem or 3rd party applications

  8. Smart lockers are are secure by design and ISO27001 certified

  9. Multilingual interface options support global protocols and inclusion programs

  10. Benefit from remote monitoring, diagnostics & repair

The ‘standard’ locker of the future will be a smart locker. So why not join the frontrunners, today.

If you’re determined to get one step ahead and want to be inspired by the frontrunners adopting new workplace technologies to improve the dynamic experience, you might want to read some case studies.

Microsoft
Located within the complex of Europe’s third busiest airport, Amsterdam Schiphol, Microsoft’s Dutch headquarters, The Outlook, offers an open, tech-enabled workplace for both staff and customers that’s a short a walk from the departure lounge.

Microsoft used technology
to empower its people and give them control over their immediate environment - through the33e4rfe Mapiq workplace app and integrated Vecos smart locker system.

Microsoft predicted the split for locker usage would be the large majority for employees and a smaller number for visitors. After analyzing the data over a few months from the smart locker system, Microsoft adjusted this split to better reflect the usage of the lockers.

Deloitte
Deloitte has created an innovative smart building in its new London headquarters which takes a scientific approach to understanding and enhancing employee experience. The office is located within its existing campus at New Street Square.

The Vecos smart locker system gathers data which is then fed back into a data lake that is used to get detailed analysis on how to improve the workplace. The insights provided by the system so far have helped Deloitte reduce on-floor storage by 60 percent. This reduction was largely due to the firm’s commitment to reducing dependency on paper and introducing smart lockers that have automated business rules. In effect, Deloitte reduced five drawers of storage per person to just one simply by responding to the data insights.

Looking ahead

As we look to the future, it’s clear that the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for many existing and emerging employee expectations – from flexible working to seamless digital experiences. On a global scale, a smart locker system is a critical part of the technology stack, that will enable high-performance dynamic workplaces to thrive. Indeed, every modern office really should have one.

Want to be future ready?

Hybrid working is here to stay. Dynamic storage gives your people the freedom to work anywhere, easily. Contact us to find out more about smart locker technology, and the role it plays in flexible workplace success.

Want to be future ready?