The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating on most aspects of our lives. There’s a new normal, dramatically different from what we ever imagined. Businesses, amidst uncertainty, are in the process of drawing up new strategies that drive resilience – financial and organizational. These strategies must take into consideration the most important aspect – the employees, who are at the core of any business.
Employees and employers, alike, are apprehensive as they prepare to return to the workplace. Will the workspaces look and feel the same? The answer is no.
As we resume work in the post-COVID world, most global organizations will have a hybrid workforce – some working from home mostly, some working from home occasionally, and the rest working from the physical workplace as many roles cannot be performed remotely.
Even before the crisis, IoT and digitization enabled organizations to make rapid changes in workplace infrastructure, facilities, practices, and how employees worked. In the present context, the significance of these technologies in business success is manifold.
This paper looks into the IoT-driven smart enterprise experience: how organizations can create smart workplaces of the future, and realize benefits for the enterprise as well as employees.
IoT-enabled smart workplaces – Driving the future of work
IoT sensors and other technologies are already helping companies save energy and costs. Future thinking companies are no longer creating a physical workspace for each employee. While they can enable cost benefits with reduced real estate usage, employee health benefits can also be realized.
Integrated building automation systems have been around for years, aiding in better infrastructure management. Now, IoT-driven connectivity enables seamless data transfer, integration of remote electronic smart devices over the web, wireless sensors, M2M communications and more, and is a game-changer, creating a digital workplace of the future that fuels productivity.
Enterprises competing to attract talent are taking a cue from the high-end retail world in creating hyper-personalized employee services on the office floor. They are using indoor mapping technologies by leveraging IoT to remove friction and create smart, innovative and connected workplaces. The lines between traditional real-estate companies, facilities management, IT, and the enterprise itself are blurring in this quest to embrace technology for maximized workplace efficiencies.
Business benefits of IoT-enabled smart workplaces
The integration of business analytics, big data, IoT, and digitization of the workplace will give businesses an array of tools, connecting remote systems for a 360-degree perspective of their facilities, operations and people to develop their business roadmap for the future.
Here are 4 salient benefits of leveraging IoT-enabled smart office solutions for your enterprise with examples of how they can transform everyday workplace scenarios:
- Energy management: Remote employees reduce the costs related to work desks, phones, power, air conditioning and related operational expenses. According to Global Workplace Analytics, employers can save over $11,000 for each half-time telecommuter per year. This is sizable savings considering global organizations have over a million employees, who have started work from home at least half the time. Organizations that leverage the smart enterprise approach will be better positioned to achieve greater productivity through innovation and creativity.
Smart enterprises make available infrastructure usage patterns, workspace monitoring data and actionable insights, all of which can be used to boost infrastructure usage, connectivity between team members and aid overall productivity. An IoT-enabled building intelligence system can leverage historical data on the cloud to not only monitor energy consumption but also use input from sensors installed to proactively adjust HVAC and lighting settings for maximum employee efficiency and increased energy savings. These sensors can detect the temperatures in various parts of the room at any time of day, the occupancy levels of a room, external weather conditions etc., and accordingly vary the cooling levels in the room. Reports suggest that organizations that implemented IoT-enabled sensors and smart devices have seen energy savings of up to 70 percent in three years.
- Workplace space optimization: A global issue that companies face is scheduling of workspaces and meeting rooms. Poor planning, last minute changes and delayed coordination over mail/phone results in waste of time and effort. IoT-enabled smart enterprises can automate routine business operations that would otherwise take up considerable time and resources.
By optimizing space utilization, organizations can reduce costs on expensive real estate. IoT-driven smart technology can help in curtailing seating costs by introducing hot desking. Remote booking, tracking and management of desk spaces and meeting rooms can ensure optimal employee productivity while still providing management with data and insights on average desks and space utilization by day / month / time, to enable appropriate decision making on seating capacity and utilization. The same concept can be used in the office cafeteria or lunch rooms, where employees can be given time slots to avoid crowding. This contactless desk booking authentication system will enable seamless and smart operations.
- Sanitization and hygiene maintenance: In the face of the pandemic, maintaining hygiene standards is paramount. Areas such as lifts, toilets, showers, and common gathering areas will need to be sanitized based on usage rather a time-based schedule. Sanitizing common surface areas such as desks, lifts and other surfaces can also be scheduled based on footfalls. Alerts can be raised to the facilities management teams to sanitize the touchpoints based on usage. Centralized management using a single pane of glass can improve uptimes, enhance end user experience and reduce H&F costs incurred for resolution.
- Personnel screening: IoT-enabled contactless thermal temperature screening and facial recognition can enable safe access to workplaces. This data can then be mapped onto contact tracing in the event of employees falling ill and contracting infections. Apps that allow for self-assessment and random assessment by employers on health and well-being will become more popular. Video analytics using technologies like computer vision help in tracking people movement and avoiding crowding in a single place.
One of the most significant impacts of the implementation of IoT-enabled smart enterprise solutions is enhanced cost efficiencies through optimum usage of space and other resources such as electricity, maintenance, housekeeping and so on. Connected sensors and automated systems can constantly capture, analyze and disseminate real-time data feeds that facilitate informed decision-making to improve both infrastructure and people performance for increased cost efficiencies. Features such as flexi seating, smart parking, timely scheduling of rooms, and other energy-saving methods contribute to a commendable measure of reducing overheads.
Future forward with frictionless workplace
Smart enterprises of the future will be digital, connected, data-driven and focused on efficiency and output maximization. However, equally important, they will be people-centric, defined by seamless interactions that overcome barriers to employee and customer connectivity. IoT simplifies and enhances employee and visitor experience through occupancy management, energy systems, visitor registration, and so on. Supporting an open, flexible, agile and collaborative workplace that puts employee and customer satisfaction first will enhance productivity and lead to greater employee satisfaction. The smart enterprise of the future will see a seamless integration of work – physical space – people – the virtual - and technology, unleashing new opportunities for both the employer and the employee.
- Extend IOT to Smart Building Solutions, Forrester.com, Accessed April 2020, https://www.forrester.com/report/Extend+IoT+Smart+Building+Solutions+To+Transform+The+Workplace/-/E-RES132901
Wipro is at the forefront of reinventing the concept of frictionless offices. We invest heavily on tools and solutions around smart facilities that disrupt traditional office models to build futuristic workplaces. Wipro offers solutions such as Intuitive Workplace, Smart Campus, Energy Management and Health COV-ER to address the needs of future offices. For details, connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org