Smart devices are already some of our most valuable work tools, and as more of our daily tasks become more connected, the Internet of things and smart offices are growing rapidly.
Connected applications are being used to improve workflow and communication in modern office design. If you want to keep your workspace adaptable and able to keep up with the fast pace of technology, then connected features will give you that edge.
The usefulness of the internet of things in workspaces is not just in being able to control devices with a smartphone or a web interface, but the ability to create chain events. Events can be created by grouping devices with a smart hub, such as Smartthings or the Philips Hue bridge, or an online system like IFTTT.
A simple example of a chain event, is if one has a door sensor on an office door, one could program the lights to come on when the door is opened in the morning. You’ll see that many of the advantages of office automation are due to these chain events, including everything from task management to thermostats and lighting. Here, we discuss the benefits (and some of the challenges) of IoT technology in office design.
Increase work output with better technology
Connecting team members across your company enhances accuracy and productivity. Communication becomes quicker and more efficient as different departments are able to reach other and answer questions within moments. Connected workstations and devices offer flexibility and collaboration for all kinds of meetings with coworkers and clients, as well as quicker data analysis. The more automated your workspace, the fewer mistakes will arise in tedious tasks, such as data entry.
Since many smart devices primary function is to make life/work more comfortable and more convenient, this alone affects employee productivity. There is a strong relationship between perceived comfort and productivity,
Location and presence monitors
One of the best features that the internet of things offers is the ability to monitor presence and location. Presence can be monitored through a series of monitors such as door sensors, motion sensors, and window sensors. In addition, many internet of things hubs allow you to monitor smartphone locations, so that you can see if your employees are in the office and trigger certain actions, such as turning the lights on or off and locking the main door.
The use of sensors can help provide insights into how the building is used, such as what areas are being used most, if certain areas become congested at certain times, and the general flow of foot traffic. Monitoring occupancy reveals patterns that make it easier to adjust your layout and spaces in ways that’ll maximize their value.
Better security and smart locks
It used to be that every employee needed an rfid card or set of keys to get into a secure office building. This meant that every new hire needed to have their own personalized id card and that the employer needed to remember to deactivate the specific id card for every new fire.
With smart locks, one can simply grant access to an employee’s email account and then have them use a bluetooth enabled app to communicate with the smart lock. For instance, August smart locks allow employers to grant easy access and also monitor when the lock was opened and who opened it.
In addition to smart locks, internet connected sensors allow for all sorts of general security. In addition, some hubs such as smartthings allow one to subscribe to security services such as scout, to enable security. With a smart security, you lose the risk of keys being duplicated, lost, or having to replace locks every time an employee leaves.
One way you can end employee feuds over the thermostat is by handing over the control to a smart device. An interesting and cost saving benefit of the internet of things age is the ability to set the thermostat temperature based on certain events. Popular thermostats that allow integrations are Nest Thermostat, Ecobee and Honeywell Wifi enabled thermostats.
One of the most interesting uses of smart heating and cooling was by Italian architect, Carlo Ratti. He designed a system that uses sensors to monitor the location of employees, which then triggers heating, lighting, or cooling. The building management system (BMS) can tell the lights to switch off if a room is empty, and heat meeting rooms just before they are due to be occupied. Now that’s a smart office!
One important benefit is the ability to control lights through smart hubs such as Philips Hue. Hue integrates with Smartthings and other hubs so that you can set up routines or triggers to controls when and where your lights come on. So for instance, if your office is empty, you can have your hue lights turn off so that you’re not lighting an empty office.
Challenges of IoT in the office
There’s definitely a learning curve with operating multiple connected devices. Challenges could arise with team members not knowing how to effectively use the technology or additional costs in IT staff to help.
Before investing and implementing any smart technology in your office design, make sure it’s filling a need. Unnecessary applications can potentially slow down your workflow if the need wasn’t there in the first place.
This really is only the beginning of IoT technology being used to smarten office design. As the technology advances, we expect many applications will save money by freeing workers from tasks that take up a lot of their time. What kind of smart technology are you looking forward to in your office?