Reinventing office life with IoT and proximity based services
Posted on: June 21, 2018 by Santi Ristol
We’ve been looking at how the Internet of Things (IoT) and proximity-based services –which are already being used to transform consumer experiences – can be deployed in the corporate environment to increase efficiencies and to improve the office user experience.
As the nature of work changes and becomes more project-orientated, and with enterprises looking to streamline their office space usage, we have been trialing a Connected Office concept to explore the potential of certain disruptive technologies to deliver major benefits not only in terms of costs, but also for productivity, the environment, and improvements to the working culture.
Smarter space in a flexible office
According to most estimates, office space is only used for 60% to 70% of the working day. That missing third represents a major cost to employers – in a capital city like Paris that can equate to a loss per employee of around 1,800 euros per year.
When companies use digital signage in the workplace they can allocate space flexibly, according to actual need and demand. These digital labels make it easy to see if a desk is available or who is occupying it. Employees can reserve desks and organize team spaces just by tapping their Near Field Communications (NFC)-enabled smartphones against the label, or they can book desks in advance.
With the information generated on a central server, managers can then analyze usage data and even send out personalized alerts – for example, in the event of an evacuation.
Meetings are a fact of working life for many of us and we have all experienced delays while meeting organizers look for lost keys or struggle with projectors.
The same technologies can also make meetings more productive and efficient.
In our Connected Office trial, we have used a WiFi-enabled Smart Lock on a meeting room door, which automatically opens when the organizer or a listed participant approaches at the meeting time. The system sends out automatic reminders to participants who are not yet present (detecting their mobile or their bluetooth badge through a beacon). Once inside the meeting room, if there is an equipment problem, IT staff can be alerted by pressing a Bluetooth button.
Whenever the meeting room is free, it can be instantly booked, if an organizer with credentials taps in with their smartphone in a smart label showing availability.
Data generated from these meetings can also be analyzed and aggregated to work out parameters like the true cost of meetings.
We have also been trialing IoT technologies to see how effective they could be in enabling on-demand maintenance and cleaning services. By equipping cleaning staff with smart watches, alerts can be sent to cleaning or maintenance staff or companies when there has been heavy use of toilets and meeting rooms. This can reduce the reliance on fixed schedules for cleaning and maintenance times and of course improve cleanliness and wellbeing for office users.
Enhancing energy consumption
With electricity representing one of the major overheads for office buildings, one of our challenges was to see how we could foster energy savings in a smart connected working environment. Based on data from Bluetooth beacons, buildings can automatically turn off lights or air conditioning when rooms are empty, generating substantial financial savings as well as major environmental benefits.
We have also been able to deploy proximity-based technologies to define restricted spaces, limiting access to sensitive areas, and to send security alerts in the event of an emergency.
The use of new technologies is also set to generate health benefits for employees. Automatic alerts can tell workers when they have been sitting too long at their desks. Employees near water coolers could be reminded of the importance of hydration. One of our partners in our Connected Office project has designed a system to reward employees with points when they choose to take the stairs rather than the elevator.
Enhancing employee experience
The potential for these technologies to transform office life extends well beyond meetings, desks, maintenance, energy, security and health.
By 2020, 40% of the world’s workforce will be made up of millennials – digital natives who expect to find these technologies in the workplace. It goes without saying that with all these innovations there are privacy concerns that have to be managed securely.
Although the main driver behind these innovations is the need to improve efficiency, our Connected Office demo establishes that these technologies have the potential to also empower and fulfill employees, making them not only more efficient but more engaged, more motivated and more collaborative. Let’s bring them on!