How innovation helped me be more efficient with my Christmas shopping

I received an unexpected call the day before Christmas. When I hung up, the guest list for my Christmas dinner now included four more names. My first thought was ‘Wonderful, the more the merrier!’. But very quickly it was followed by ‘Oh wait, that means I need to buy more food, and very fast.’ Which is why on one of the busiest days of the year I plunged into the shopping frenzy to cater for the extra guests.

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At that moment I still hadn’t grasped the similarity between finding a suitable parking spot on Christmas eve and finding a free workstation on a busy day in the office. More on that later.

During that time of year you would expect to join a long queue at your local butchers, but trying to drive through the traffic heading towards town on the 24th of December was something else. Once I had finally reached the city centre, I joined the queue to enter the multi-storey car park (one in, one out). My prospects weren’t looking good. However I was blessed with an early Christmas gift: the operator of the car park were using innovative technologies to help the hundreds of last minute shoppers like me finding an available parking space more easily. The lights above each parking space showed by their colour (red or green) whether the parking spot was free or not.

This customer-friendly innovation ensured that instead of spending ages driving around looking for a suitable place, I could see in the blink of an eye where the empty spaces were. A quick Google search shows that parking during the holiday season is not the only time this solution would be welcomed. Drivers in London spend an average of 15 minutes looking for a suitable parking spot.

Wouldn’t it be useful if the operator of an office building installed the very same system? In many buildings where The New World of Work is the norm and nobody has their own fixed desks anymore, employees can spend a lot of time trying to find a free workspace. This impacts productivity and exercises a negative influence on customer satisfaction with the availability of facilities.

By using the right technology, placed at the entrance of the lift or the building itself, and using red and green colour coding on a screen to indicate where the available workspaces are in the office, it would help prevent wasting time and frustrations amongst your workforce. A number of organisations already use sensor technology to direct their employees to available desks when they enter a building. And at the same time, as an extra service, making it easy for them to find a colleague they need to work with that day, indicating a workspace which is close to them.

And what about my Christmas dinner? The food tasted wonderful and there was plenty for everyone! But most importantly, the four unexpected guests enjoyed the festivities as much as everybody else.

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