It seems like there’s a way to make everything high-tech these days. Employees no longer expect their office to be a place they simply come to work — they expect their office environment to also be a smart place for them to work, driven by office automation. Today, you’d have a hard time finding anyone who actually wants to spend their time maintaining office systems. Office automation software has solved this issue for many organizations, who use basic office automation systems including information storage, data exchange and data management. These categories extend not only to technical systems in an office, but also to people management, building access and other internal systems.
Automated processes and software should be used to create a flow that fits your own office, not force a different kind of workflow on your employees. They should also help you define your own access controls and to streamline approval processes, all from the cloud. Defining this workflow can get difficult as software allows more businesses to become flexible with their office time; some businesses may want a smartphone access control system to allow employees to come and go, while others might need digital video software for easy connections with remote workers.
For a comprehensive guide on workplace operations, you can download the Office Operations guide, provided by Unlocked — the magazine for the smart office.
"Technology has brought the concept of work outside of the office. What this means is that work isn't somewhere you go — it's something you do. All of this is enabled through the adoption and implementation of new technology platforms. For me, a smart office is a physical and technological platform that allows you to work anywhere.”
Madhusudan Thakur, the Regional Vice President of Regus South Asia
In many fast-paced industries, office automation is not a new concept, but rather an old necessity requiring constant research and adaptation. But with the rise in demand for flexible workspace and unique office design, the need for automation has spread far and wide to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Modern businesses are expected to operate and perform faster than ever before, highlighting the need to eliminate waste and streamline processes that are time-intensive or involve manual labor.
What is Office Automation?
Simply put, office automation is a tool or technology that makes a process more efficient and less labor-intensive. From data storage and management to security, office maintenance, payroll, and much more, automation technology can save time, money, and resources for a business trying to expand and compete on a larger scale.
Office automation should offer your employees both flexibility and reliability in supporting their daily tasks. For example, for most companies data entry and inventory logs are tedious things to maintain, but with automation software and data analysis tools, these tasks are vastly simplified. Automation software can also be applied to marketing and social media, project management, customer support, and more.
While there are many choices in business automation software, we’ve organized the highest-rated companies in several essential tasks that most companies need. In this guide we highlight tools that address the biggest categories of business management:
- Employee Management
- Facility Management
Receipts and Reimbursement: Expensify
Forcing your employees to collect countless receipts on business trips and meetings, turn in a stack of paper to the finance team upon their return, and wait for their reimbursements to clear is cumbersome and time-consuming. To avoid the pileup of paper, Expensify improves the way employees report expenses by allowing them to do it while they're away, directly from their phones. Instead of keeping track of receipts for days or weeks on end, authorized users can simply log in and scan receipts to the app, easy as that. Expensify automates the way expenses are approved, while also streamlining a way for you to export information to your accounting package and apply these expenses to your budget.
- Unlimited Receipt Scanning
- Credit Card Import
- Corporate Card Reconciliation
- Next-Day Reimbursement
- Multi-Level Approval Workflows
- Receipt Integrations
- Mileage Tracking
- PCI-Compliant Security
$5 - $9 per user per month
File Storage: Nexenta
As your business grows, so will the number of digital files you accumulate, which can overwhelm your office computers and hard drives. Storing these files safely is important because your employees, customers, and partners will need to access and share information among themselves. To make this process easier, consider using Nexenta, which is an open-source file storage platform. The service is flexible and allows you to structure file storage in ways that fit your needs while simplifying the management of these files. Nexenta protects your files from both damage and unauthorized access.
- Lower TCO
- Virtual Workloads
- Backup & Archive
- Containerized Environments
- Flash for Any Workload
- Bare Metal Deployment
- Virtualized Private Cloud
- Multi and Public Cloud
- Contact sales
File Sharing: Ipswitch
Sometimes you’ll have to share the files your organization is storing, and you’ll have to do so securely, reliably, and with the knowledge that your information, which often includes sensitive customer data, will be handled with care. Ipswitch is a software development company, and their high-performance managed file transfer solution helps businesses interact.
Ipswitch is notable because it scales - whether or not you’re an enterprise, or someone using the technology for person-to-person file exchanges, you don’t have to worry about moving around sensitive data or stepping on compliance policies. Not to mention - the process will allow you to be way more visible and take control of how your files move around.
- Network Monitoring
- Managed File Transfer
- FTP Server
- FTP client
- Contact sales or find a reseller
File Backup: Seafile
Make sure you never lose a file again. Seafile constantly backs up your information to the cloud with a syncing tool that’s reliable, automated and works in the background. Seafile boasts a reliable syncing algorithm that will support your systems in a robust way. Not only will you be backing up your data in real time, but library snapshots and histories will allow you to easily recover and enable anything you may have lost.
- Cross-Platform File Syncing
- Mobile File Access
- Seafile Drive client
- Knowledge Management
- File Versioning and Snapshot
- File locking
- Online editing and co-authoring
- Audit Log
- File Sharing and Permission Control
- Security and Encryption
- User Management and Single Sign-On
- Backup and Data Recovery
Single Sign-On: Okta
Single sign-on involves using one set of credentials, such as a username and password, to access multiple applications. Okta is one of the leading platforms for growing companies to streamline how employees access internal systems. Okta allows employees to use one username and password to log into every software application they need at work.
- Single Sign-On
- Multi-Factor Authentication
- Lifecycle Management
- Universal Directory
- API Access Management
- Advanced Server Access
- Multi-factor Authentication
- B2B Integration
- Lifecycle Management
- User Management
- Single Sign-on FREE TRIAL
- SSO $2 per user, per month
- Adaptive SSO
- $5 per user, per month
- MFA $3 per user, per month
- Adaptive MFA $6 per user, per month
- Universal Directory $2 per user, per month
- Lifecycle Management $4 per user, per month
- Advanced Lifecycle Management $6 per user, per month
- API Access Management $2 per user, per month
- Advanced Server Access $15 per user, per month
- Access Gateway $3 per user, per month
Access Management: Kisi
As your business scales, you’ll be hiring more employees and that means more people coming in and out of the office daily. On the other hand, when employees leave, you're going to want to revoke that access seamlessly.
Kisi provides a smart access control system that allows businesses to remotely grant and revoke access to employees as needed. Not only does this remove the headache of constantly printing ID cards to allow people into the building, but Kisi gives you more flexibility by allowing you to implement restrictions on access and flexible work hours, schedule the doors to remain unlocked during business hours, and fully automate the access to every space within your workplace. Users can unlock doors with the phone, smartwatch, or simply with the gesture of their hand (leaving their phone in their pocket), making it an exciting experience for both employees and visitors. It's an office manager's best friend.
- Extensive Integrations
- Flexibility of Permissions
- All-in-One Solution
- Kisi Reader Pro (KPRO) $699
- Kisi Controller Pro (KCP) $899
- For Software, ask for a Quote
Visitor Management: Envoy
Envoy is an all-in-one visitor management system that allows businesses to register visitors, manage deliveries, and book rooms seamlessly. Receptionists and office managers can focus on real workplace culture and experience while the Envoy system handles the tedious tasks that slow down operations. Learn more here.
- Enhance Security
- Meet Compliance Requirements
- Make A Great Impression
- Boost Efficiency
- Support Enterprise Needs
- Basic: Free (limited features)
- Standard $99 per location/month
- Premium $299 per location/month
- Enterprise Custom
Visitor Management: Ring
Your home isn’t the only space where you can expect to host guests—businesses are constantly bringing in visitors for various reasons. When the doorbell rings, the security issue is that you never know who’s on the other side.
Ring lets you see the other side of your door with wide-angled HD video, smart motion detection, and cloud recording. Kisi, mentioned above, integrates with Ring and allows you to not only view who’s at the door, but give them immediate access with a smartphone access control system.
Membership Management: SpaceOS
SpaceOS helps agile workspaces by creating a custom member management platform. This platform allows everyone in the building to connect through a tailor-made messaging app, meeting room booking systems, printing services, accounting and billing dashboards, etc… SpaceOS has the resources to transform a traditional business into a smart office.
- Commercial Real Estate
- Integration with Kisi access control
- Get in touch
Service: Managed by Q
There is nothing more distracting than coming to work every day and sitting in a messy office, or looking at those dirty dishes piled in the sink. Cleaning the office can be expensive and cumbersome when the process isn’t streamlined and employees have to work around logistical cleaning issues.
Managed by Q wants to solve your company’s cleaning crisis with regular cleaning sessions that keep your space neat and organized. With an automated process, you no longer have to worry about booking a cleaning staff to come help keep the office neat. If you'd rather keep the service in-house, we interviewed Managed by Q and created a comprehensive office cleaning and maintenance checklist.
- EMPLOYEE HELPDESK
- SPACE PROFILE
- SERVICES MARKETPLACE
- Standard $149/mo
- Premium Custom
Membership Management: Wild Apricot
Clear and easy-to-use tool powered by Personify. This tool is very comprehensive and incorporates a web builder, online payment solutions and an excellent membership management software. Very popular within clubs and associations, it can be used also by fitness clubs, small companies and non-profits.
Room Scheduling: Robin
Have you ever wanted to have a meeting in the conference after balancing your coffee, laptop and notebook in hand just to realize that a co-worker is posted up in there? Well, Robin solves this problem, and other scheduling issues. It helps you book meeting room and hot desk reservations, provides real-time analytics and offers tablets that display the conference room's schedule for the foreseeable future. We spoke with Robin about what makes a great conference room, you can check out the article here.
- Room display
- Status Board
- Workplace analytics
- Mobile apps
- Basic $240 / space / year
- Pro $300 / space / year
- $36 / desk / year
- Premier Contact us
Security Cameras: Cisco Meraki
Cisco Meraki is a cloud camera system that uses the power of AI and facial recognition to boost the security of any office. Meraki cameras are consistently the highest rated in the industry for their quality hardware and powerful security management dashboard. It is also fully integrated with access control platforms as well.
- Wireless LAN
- Security / SD-WAN
- Mobility Management
- Smart Cameras
- Wireless WAN
- Contact Sales
Notes and Workflows: Notion
Notion is a cloud publishing platform that allows teams to create, edit and publish online workspaces. From meeting notes style guides and blog articles, to internal wikis and resources, Notion is a cloud-based platform where team members can plan and collaborate on a wide variety of tasks and projects.
- Desktop Apps
- Mobile Apps
- Web Clipper
- Personal $4 per month
- Team $8 per member per month
- Enterprise Contact Sales
Workflow management: Process Street
Process Street is no-code workflow software. This cloud-based solution allows teams like Salesforce, Drift, and Envoy to manage their processes and playbooks by turning their recurring tasks into actionable checklists and automated workflows.
Teams can create templates, run checklists, assign tasks, approve work, track progress, and connect their processes to over 2,000 apps from any device in any location. This makes collaborating with team members, getting work done, and focusing on the tasks that matter, easy.
- Easily document procedures in templates
- Access over 1,000 free, industry-focused pre-made templates
- Connect to 2,000+ apps, tools, and platforms via Zapier, Webhooks, or API integration
- Collect and share structured data with form fields
- Collaborate with dynamic due dates and task and role assignments
- Reduce bottlenecks with approval tasks
- Create one process instead of many with conditional logic
- Track and report on progress with the dashboard and reporting API
- Basic: $12.50 per user, per month
- Standard: $25 per user, per month
- Custom: Contact us for details
Office Pantry: Boxed
Get your office supplies and pantry supplies all in one place at an affordable price. Boxed can supply your office with all the snacks and fresh produce that employees need to stay productive throughout the day. With automated shipping and quantity control, Boxed streamlines a multitude of administrative tasks.
- Premium Products For Home, Work, and Life
- Easy Recipes for Family Meals
- Pure Protection That Works
- Contact Sales
Task Management: Trello
Trello is a cloud-based project management tool that allows employees to make boards, lists, and cards to organize and prioritize projects. This tool helps to hold team members accountable for their tasks, set deadlines and easily give feedback and take notes on group projects.
- Work with any team
- Information at a glance
- Built-In Workflow Automation With Butler
- Business Class $9.99
- Enterprise $20.83
The company that pioneered the development of e-signature technology, DocuSign makes e-contract signing a breeze. With more than 400,000 paying customers and hundreds of millions of users worldwide, hiring managers can simplify admin processes by using this software.
- Electronic Signature
- Contract Lifecycle Management
- Document Generation and Negotiation
- Agreement Analytics
- Personal $10 per user
- Standard $25 per user, per month
- Business Pro $40 per user, per month
- Sandbox Account FREE
- Basic API $50 per month
- Intermediate API $300 per month
- Advanced API
- $480 per month
- Real Estate Starter $10 per month
- DocuSign for REALTORS® $20 per user, per month
Workable is an online recruiting software that allows hiring managers to create interview processes that are more efficient. With calendar integrations, automated assessment tests and help making high-quality job ads, Workable can lead to faster and better quality hires within a company.
- 200+ free and premium job boards
- 700+ job description templates
- Branded careers pages
- Automated passive candidate outreach
- Mobile-friendly application forms
- Top-rated mobile app (iOS / Android)
- Interview kits and scorecards
- 40+ third-party integrations, including background checks and assessment
- Email and calendar sync
- Offer letters with e-signatures
- Award-winning phone, email and chat support
- $99 per job per month
Using an automated tool to help manage different shifts, yearly planning, employee communication, time clocks and payrolls will take a load off your office admins plate.
Planday manages all of this for businesses, and helps them gain significant advantages by tracking trends, staff costs and optimizing their time using the resources they already have available.
- WORK SCHEDULE
- SHIFT PLANNER
- SHIFT WORK CALENDAR
- TIMECLOCK APP
- STARTER $2 Per user / month
- PLUS $4 Per user / month
Having efficient onboarding processes for new employees is a constant process. CertSpring helps managers quickly build training that's tailored to their industry and specific business needs. You can create badges, certificate programs and other content to bring new employees up to speed as quickly as possible, improving both productivity and the hiring experience.
- Asynchronous Learning
- Built-In Course Authoring
- Certification Management
- Mobile Learning
- Training Companies
- Synchronous Learning
- Blended Learning
- Built-in LMS
- Learner Portal
- Cost not specified
While you might not be able to automate every aspect of your office, automating some of your most time-consuming tasks with office automation software will help to streamline your workplace, allowing for more innovation and growth on the part of your employees.
If you’re interested in learning how Kisi can help automate your office then you can request a demo.