The Internet of Things (IoT) is making its way into nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Things that used to be a rarity — like lights that you can control from your mobile phone, or smart appliances that can run themselves — are becoming commonplace. While you might not need a smart washing machine in your workplace, there are plenty of options for applying this technology in office spaces. Let’s explore how the Internet of Things making offices smarter.
Making office spaces energy efficient
Energy usage in commercial spaces can easily get excessive. You’ve got dozens of computers plugged in, along with plenty of lights and a massive HVAC system — and that’s just the basics.
Making these smart offices energy efficient is one of the biggest challenges of the modern age, but IoT networks are starting to take some of the strain off.
Smart thermostats can adjust the temperature automatically depending on working hours when people are in the office and even the ambient temperature outside. Motion sensors are useful for turning lights off in unused parts of the office. IoT-connected power strips can monitor power usage for anything plugged into them in real-time, and even give you the power to shut these things off remotely when they’re not necessary.
Improving workplace safety
Keeping an office safe and secure might seem like an insurmountable challenge, especially when you have people coming and going at all hours of the day and night. IoT networks have become an invaluable tool for keeping these spaces safe.
For instance, networked security systems can keep tabs on the entire space automatically, sending alerts when anything appears that is outside set parameters. Strategically placed sensors can register temperature spikes that could indicate a fire hazard long before the smoke detectors ever get their first whiff of smoke. This can also be valuable for server rooms, where a spike in temperature can be catastrophic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we look at office spaces. Things are beginning to return to normal, thanks to the availability of vaccines, but the design of the office will probably never be the same. Incorporating office IoT — from wearables that track employee health to automatic temperature scanners at the door — can help keep employees safe from COVID and its variants.
Making your office more comfortable
No one wants to work in an office that’s sweltering in the summer and freezing in the winter, all in the name of reducing the power bill or shrinking the company’s carbon footprint. Sure, you can shut off the lights when you leave the office, or turn up the thermostat when you go home for the night, but trying to do all of that manually can become exhausting — especially if you have a large office or are spread out across a lot of square footage.
IoT climate control programs do all of this automatically. Depending on the settings, it could even adjust the temperature or light levels in each room depending on whether there are people in there or not. Motion sensors can give the network all the information it needs to determine when to crank up the thermostat or shut the lights off.
Tie it into a feed from your local weather station and it can even control things like the blinds — opening and closing them to let in natural light whenever possible — and open the windows to let in a cool breeze if you’re not in a strictly climate-controlled building.
Automating or streamlining administrative tasks
How many repetitive tasks do you have on your schedule that happen on a regular basis? These tasks may be necessary, but do they need to be handled by human hands?
Instead of wasting time on these tasks, consider automating them with the Internet of Things devices. In addition to ensuring the tasks are done correctly each time, this application of IoT frees you up for more important tasks that are likely too complex for office IoT automation.
Automation in the smart office is still a very new concept, but it can help save considerable time and money in the long run. Employees normally assigned to handle these mundane or trivial tasks could be better put to use in more engaging tasks. As a bonus, this tends to improve workplace morale and makes employees happier in their jobs. No one wants to do grunt work forever. Replace these tasks with IoT automation and give your employees room to grow.
Making offices smarter…every day
Right now, we’re seeing the beginning of the age of the Internet of Things. While these networked devices are more common today than they were a decade ago, they still aren’t the sort of thing you see in every home and business. As the technology becomes more mainstream and affordable, we will likely see everyone from small businesses to massive corporations adopting the Internet of Things and turning it from a novelty into a viable tool for doing business.
About the Author:
Emily Newton is an industrial and tech journalist. She’s always looking for new ways businesses can save money by incorporating new technologies.