Introduction to Smart Office Technology

Introduction to Smart Office Technology

90% of office decision makers see real business value in smart office technology. Here’s some of the best IoT office use cases to get you inspired.

1,000 London office workers were surveyed about the future of the office. The results were far from vague. In fact, 90% of decision-makers surveyed agreed that there were clear business reasons for working in a smart office. 87% went so far as to say they would require smart technology in their next business move.

Smart Office Options

So the question of whether or not offices should invest in IoT for their employees is easy to answer. Technology is coming for your regular, manual-everything office and bringing it into the 21st century. The question is, what kind of IoT is really valuable in an office setting? Do your employees need wearables? Will smart lighting push productivity? There’s plenty of options for smart offices beyond the typical “this light turns off when the room is empty!” Here are some favorites.

Smart Office use cases. Which will you choose?

Better recycling

How much waste do your employees generate each day? Whether it’s plastic packaging from lunch or cartons piling up from deliveries, you will always have more than enough garbage to deal with each day. For a more environmentally-friendly smart office, automated recycling tools can help sort trash when employees don’t have time. The first waves of intelligence bins—or eBins—are on their way to the public eye. They can sort, compress, and of course, save money.

Gamification

Not the easiest use case, but gamification is playing a larger and larger role within companies each year. Sales teams use games to increase deals closed at certain times. Onboarding processes regularly use gamification to get newcomers integrated with a healthy routine and attitude. However, it’s important that companies recognize the importance of designing their game right. Many gamification efforts will fall flat due to the “forced fun” feeling or other negative side effects. A smart office will supply smart managers with the tools to create better opportunities for gamified processes. Sensors combined with gamification apps can alert employees to energy efficiencies. Games can drive recognition programs that give employees a better sense of self in the office. Wearables, of course, give the opportunity to support health and socializing campaigns across the office.

Healthy wearables

How many hours do you spend each day…sitting? Nearly everyone reading this will spend a lot of time in the seated position. This sedentary life is taking a toll on workforces around the world, leading to poor health, poor results, and dissatisfaction. While some offices offer standing desks or subsidies to fund fitness programs, others are taking the high-tech route. By allowing interested employees to use company-issued wearables, each and every employee can take back control over their health. Moreover, creative offices know full well the opportunities health tracking afford. For example, access to wearables may encourage employees to gamify their health, using the office to spread excitement and instil better habits.

Wearables highlight missed opportunities that managers would not otherwise notice. They provide data to make granular changes, illuminating situations where employees may not be socializing or moving enough.

High-tech time tracking

Employee attendance and time tracking is a use case HR offices around the world deal with each day. Tracking employee attendance isn’t easy and modern workforces often have little patience for wasting time in their day performing easily automated tasks. Some offices will opt for software that requires a simple login and logout each day. With beacons, however, it’s possible for the clock-in, clock-out process to be completely seamless. By replacing IDs with Card Beacons, an employee can be automatically registered when they enter the premises. Of course, the options don’t end there. This smart office tool can be used by HR and employees. We may have seen hackers rigging beacons to trigger music to play whenever certain people enter the office. Sounds like a practical use case to me!

Keyless entry

Remember searching for door keys in the rain as you ran for the office door? What if you could use the IoT to erase this horrible inconvenience from your schedule forever? Smart offices aren’t just high-tech on the inside, keyless entry makes entering and exiting the building easy (and secure)! There’s two ways to make this use case your own: first, if your employees use ID cards, you can replace those cards with Card Beacons. These can interact with the cloud via a Gateway installed at entrances. Once the Card Beacon is in a given vicinity the Gateway, the door can be automatically unlocked. This works best in scenarios where managers want to track employee movements or create a complete connect system around their office.

The second, more simple option, uses one beacon at an entrance paired with an app present. Now the employees’ phones can act as the key to automate entry. Read more on a real-world example of this use case here.

Kisi is a keyless entry app solution provider. Here’s what they found from their users: 95% of users who unlocked using beacons would continue to make the same number of unlocks or more in the following months.

Room booking system

You have a big meeting coming up. You book a conference room days in advance, just to be safe. On the day, you come in only to find the room occupied. Now, you’re all stuck wasting time while you sort the booking out. Employees in offices with activity-based workspaces are even more likely to experience scheduling issues. When you’re ready to work and suddenly have to find a new desk or office to use, that’s bad news for productivity. Time wasted reorganizing plans and rescheduling means much more than a few minutes of lost time. It means hitting the brakes when you’re trying to go full speed.

That’s why IoT solution providers are finding numerous ways to make room and desk booking foolproof. Offices are turning to apps and online platforms to actively book or review bookings for a given space. Next time you book a meeting room, that data will be displayed on the digital time log at the room entrance. Some solution providers are even automating the process with beacons. A Bluetooth beacon can tell the app exactly which room you’re in or automatically mark a room as “in use.” All it takes is proximity data to solve this decades-old problem.

Smart lighting, heating, and more

You’re freezing in the office—but everyone around you is warm. There are so many environment variables that can mess with your focus when you’re trying to work. Many offices are already taking the first step of offering more localized options for employees. That means keeping your space warmer without bothering coworkers.

More importantly, many managers and solutions providers are realizing the real value of a smart office is automation. For example, you may know that you’re having difficulty focusing, but you don’t know why. Comparing light, heat, movement, and other data points against employee happiness and productivity can teach a smart office about the optimal settings. Sensors will be invaluable in this setting, constantly checking to ensure that the office is kept at optimal, well, everything.

Track rotations

Here’s something administrators will love. Keeping track of and confirming rotations isn’t easy, but it can often be a crucial data point for managers. A smart office will completely change the cleaning rotation and security check process. For many, Bluetooth beacons are perfect for the job. In this scenario, beacons are installed in specific locations. Then, cleaning and security personnel use an app to record their movements and actions.

Smart offices can now use beacons to:

  • Deliver alerts about missed rotations
  • Deliver audits
  • Submit incident reports

Read more on this use case from our success stories here.

Hannah Augur - Photo
Content writer / tech blogger / geek based in Berlin. Hannah reports on all things tech and has a medium-sized tolerance for buzzwords.

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