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The Evolving Role of AI in Office Management

“Artificial intelligence” might still sound like something from a sci-fi movie, but it’s actually just a term used to describe a variety of tools and processes in which computers “learn” from data inputs and adjust their “behavior” accordingly.

The use of artificially intelligent tools is becoming more common in all industries, and office administration is no exception.

Of course, we’re a long way off from computers being able to replace the work that humans do in the front office, as we discussed in our post Tech vs. People in the Office Lobby. However, your office administrators and office managers can use new AI tools to make their jobs easier and more effective.

Here are a few ways that AI is evolving to help manage offices.

Scheduling Office Meetings

If your front desk administrator takes on executive assistance roles or is in charge of occasionally leading teams related to the office or building, they may be able to leverage the power of artificially intelligent scheduling apps.

It can be surprisingly time-consuming to settle on appointment times, especially if you’re trying to schedule them for more than one person.

We’ve written about best practices for meeting scheduling in our post Best Practices for Efficient Meetings. Workplace leaders can prevent scheduling headaches by keeping meetings on a regular schedule and at times that don’t interrupt employees’ workflow. However, there will always be instances where impromptu meetings are necessary.

The apps Calendly or Doodle can analyze the availability and preferences of all meeting participants to intelligently suggest ideal meeting times.

Calendly lets the organizer input their availability, and invited participants select their ideal meeting times. Doodle can also scan for ideal times using people’s calendars, or use a poll feature to ask participants about which times they’d prefer to meet.

These features make the meeting scheduling process much clearer and easier for everyone involved. These apps can also automatically convert time zones to eliminate timing confusion.

Answering Customer Requests

If your front desk staff plays a role in fielding calls from customers in addition to their other office tasks, artificial intelligent apps might play a role in limiting the interruptions that come up during the day.

For example, AI chat features have become increasingly common on websites. These bots can recognize and answer common questions, direct people to FAQs and help documents, and get a better idea of what questions the customer has so the right person can help with the issue.

Similarly, phone answering services may use AI to help answer common questions and route calls with no need to interrupt the live receptionist.

Reducing Office Energy Use

Smart thermostats that allow users to schedule temperature changes and control the temperature remotely are becoming increasingly common.

But offices can take it a step further with smart HVAC systems built to handle larger areas. As this Link Labs article explains, “smart HVAC systems ‘learn’ where and how much heat or air to bring to each section of the building.”

These systems may have smart controls on individual air vents and on compressors, which then work with smart thermostats to efficiently heat or cool rooms. These systems can efficiently handle rooms with uneven temperature zones (e.g., stove or fireplace) or with humidity levels that result in “latent heat” — air movement instead of the more energy-draining temperature change.

Smart office equipment can also help save energy, using AI to reduce their energy reduction when the office isn’t in use.

Smart printers may also use AI to recognize attempts at hacks, which has the potential to save lots of energy and paper. (As this article mentions, past hacks have included “getting printers to spew out thousands of print jobs” and denial-of-service attacks.)

Read more about how the internet of things is affecting the office: The Future of the Office is Online

Stocking Office Supplies and Refreshments

Larger offices may benefit from a supply management system that uses intelligent features to help manage inventory.

Keeping better track of office supplies can reduce expenses by cutting down on duplicate or other unnecessary purchases. Asset management programs can also remind your staff to make sure that equipment maintenance happens on schedule, which can extend the life of your equipment.

Smart asset supply management programs can also let office administrators know when certain supplies are running low, or analyze trends in how supplies are used to help office managers save money and get more insights into employee behavior.

Asset management systems or supply management systems may also be able to automate the process of re-ordering the supplies you need to make the process much easier than doing it manually.

For more on asset management and maintenance management, check out our post 5 Essential Tools for Facilities Managers.

Issuing Employee Office Access

Smart access control may have AI features that keep the office safer and make things like key tracking much easier for employees.

Because these systems are fully digital and connected to the internet, they can be programmed to do things like alert your office manager when people try to gain access with expired credentials, or try to gain entry to the office during off-hours.

Access control systems may also use AI features to revoke or add access to outgoing or incoming employees automatically as part of their onboarding or offboarding process.

Read more on office access control systems here: How to Evaluate Office Door Lock Options

Checking in Office Visitors

There’s nothing like the warm, friendly touch that a live receptionist’s greeting adds to a lobby.

However, an automated check-in app like The Receptionist for iPad can guide visitors through an automated check-in process and even connect them directly to the person they came to visit — all through a touchscreen tablet.

Visitors can also check in with their smartphones without the need to touch a shared tablet or clipboard or even come within six feet of the receptionist in the lobby. This can make everyone feel safer and more comfortable in the COVID-19 era.

We’re a long way off from computers being able to replace the work that humans do in the front office, but AI tools can make admin work easier. Click To Tweet

Allowing visitors to check themselves in with a visitor check-in app can also eliminate tedious data transcription work, and can even make it easier for receptionists to move throughout the office during the day instead of staying tethered to their desks.

If you’re interested in trying a visitor management app at your office, check out the reviews for The Receptionist. And if you’d like to try The Receptionist, check out our features or request a custom demo.

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