The Internet of Things (IoT) is already actively changing the manufacturing, consumer products, and infrastructure sectors, but what about our everyday work spaces? What is the role of IoT in the office? And, what approach should we take to leverage this technology so that it helps us work better and live better?
As with all the new tech developments we’re facing at the moment, IoT presents many options, but no roadmap. It’s part of what’s being called “digitization” – a general term for the process of connecting physical business assets to the digital realm via data collection and analytics.
IoT in the Workplace – Two Main Areas of Impact
As far as workspaces are concerned, there are two main areas for IoT adoption. The first is office management. IoT is a very powerful tool for managing complex systems, and even systems of systems. In fact, the needs of most work environments – lighting, temperature management, space usage, office equipment maintenance etc. – is pretty basic stuff when compared to some of the complex work that IoT is already doing in the industrial sector, for example.
The second area where IoT can be significant in offices is a much more open-ended affair, and depends on the company and its goals. This is where IoT gets interesting. It’s clear that the implementation of IoT in a hospital will offer something very different to IoT in a law firm or design agency.
This is where human creativity becomes central. Companies can choose how to use IoT from basic optimization that will help employees save time and effort on menial tasks to creating a more meaningful digital culture.
A Powerful Tool for Better Office Spaces
If you’re asking yourself more practical questions about how IoT will actually affect office management, here are a few general examples:
- Office utilities are managed using predictive maintenance to prevent downtime of any equipment
- Energy is saved due to the IoT network activating lighting, air-conditioning and other appliances based upon employee presence
- Workspaces can be shared, scheduled and equipped automatically via a company-wide dashboard
- Colleague locations and the location of devices and other assets can be pinpointed
- Navigation in large office facilities is made easy, with shortcuts, and vital information provided to each employee based on their tasks
- Managers measure data from how the various spaces are used and what the results are, enabling decisions about how to improve efficiency and employee engagement
- Kitchens, bathrooms and shared spaces are kept clean and stocked at all times
- Employees are protected from hazards such as fires, machinery malfunction and gas leaks with alerts triggered automatically by smart sensors
IoT + Big Data + AI = The Scary Unknown
An IoT network is made up of lots of sensors, collecting lots of data, all the time. While a basic IoT setup will save you a fortune on your electrical bill, that data needs to be analyzed and leveraged to help your company progress towards digitization.
But people don’t like changes, especially ones that are completely unknown. While conclusions from data analysis of employee behavior in an office environment might seem threatening to some, it’s important to understand that if used correctly, IoT can benefit everyone. Repetitive tasks can be automated, and employees will be more active in learning new skills.
It’s upon management to take a positive position in leading employees by showing them the opportunities offered by this new age of office work, and not get stuck up on the fear of technology taking away our jobs.
Technology has already drastically changed the way we work, and so far digitization is actually improving work environments, the way we interact with colleagues, and how engaged we are with our work.