The Internet of Things (IoT) has improved workplace service delivery by increasing the efficiency of processes, and consequently, the productivity of employees.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, IoT-enabled connectivity has become more important to maintain business strategy continuity.
IoT and the Future of Work
Modern offices already have several smart elements such as motion sensor lighting and access control systems. We barely give them a second thought but they offer immense benefits to companies.
Smart workplaces are supported by IoT-enabled sensors, beacons, and other technologies to reduce costs, save energy, and increase productivity. They also have a beneficial effect on employee wellness.
IoT can enable seamless data transfer over the Web between connected devices, machine-to-machine communications (M2M), tracking of employee activity via wearables, and enabling integrated building automation systems.
Thus, IoT can augment the physical workplace to create an innovative and connected digital workplace.
IoT Benefits in Workplace Service Delivery
IoT-enabled smart office initiatives can transform the modern office in several ways:
1. Operational Efficiency
IoT-enabled sensors are an important element of a smart workplace. They can monitor employee activity, collect data on usage patterns, and enable us to generate actionable insights.
Intelligent infrastructure systems can combine historical energy usage data on the cloud and data from sensors to fine-tune the settings of commercial LED lighting and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems.
It prevents wastage of energy and boosts employee productivity by keeping people comfortable and focused.
IoT-enabled sensors can also monitor the temperature of different parts of the office throughout the day, track outside weather, and real-time occupancy levels to proactively adjust the temperature of the space.
Smart parking systems use sensors and microcontrollers to determine parking slot availability and adjust lighting accordingly.
2. Space Optimisation
Scheduling meeting rooms and desk space in a timely manner can be done with IoT-enabled devices and predictive analytics.
Occupancy sensors can provide information on average space utilization over a time span, which can be used to implement the concept of hot desking. Based on seat utilization data, the same physical workspaces can be used by several people throughout the day as per their needs.
Remote monitoring and booking of desk space and meeting rooms can boost employee productivity. Virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa can be used to schedule meetings, send reminders, and automate related tasks.
Smart kiosks outside meeting rooms can be used to capture the efficiency of meetings by soliciting feedback from attendees.
Cafeteria seating can also be optimized using data gleaned from IoT devices to prevent crowding or people wasting time waiting in line.
3. Workplace Sanitisation
Hygiene has become doubly important due to the pandemic and it is critical for employee safety. IoT-powered systems can optimize the sanitization schedules of high-traffic areas like washrooms, lifts, and corridors by collecting data on occupancy and usage.
High-touch points like desks, door handles, or lift buttons can be sanitised based on the intensity of usage and in a timely manner.
Integrated systems can combine data from various sensors and smart cameras to raise cleaning alerts to the facilities management team based on a threshold number of usages instead of relying on a time-based sanitisation schedule.
4. Employee Safety
It has become important to monitor the health and vital signs of employees to not only avoid injury but also prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Smart wearables provide real-time data on various health parameters like body temperatures, SpO2, and heart rate.
Also, thermal imaging camera technology that uses infrared radiation can be used to monitor people for high body temperature and raise appropriate alerts on, say, a mobile app used by the facility manager.
A trend called Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is encouraging employees to bring personal IoT-enabled wearables and other devices. Data security is ensured with the use of access control systems.
Data from these devices can be used for contact tracing in case of a breakout of COVID-19 infection at the workplace.
Sensor data can also be used to track overcrowding in lifts or common areas and predictive analytics used to manage capacity in these areas to enforce social distancing.
Service delivery in smart workplaces of the future will focus on enhancing the employee experience and fostering an open, flexible, and collaborative environment. IoT-enabled systems will reduce friction between functions and departments by integrating them and enabling seamless data transfer between systems.