The way that both business owners and their employees approach office-based work has changed remarkably in recent years. With almost 13% of all full-time employees currently working in remote roles and nearly 30% engaged in hybrid work structures, modern offices can no longer rely on local networks and segregated systems to meet productivity demands.
Thankfully, the shift towards smart office technologies and intelligent solutions has been in progress for a number of years. Research indicates as many as 94% of businesses currently use some form of cloud services, with almost 70% of all enterprise infrastructure now entirely cloud-based, allowing modern organisations to develop remote-access smart office systems.
In many ways, the key to an effective and productive smart office lies in the specific devices deployed to manage productivity and enable faster responses, with the Internet of Things (IoT) acting as a framework to support these actions. For business owners looking to improve operations, these are the smart office IoT trends for easier management worth considering.
What is a smart office?
Before looking into smart office trends in a little more detail, it’s important to understand the definition of a modern smart office setup. In short, the term smart office is used to describe any commercial workspace that utilises modern technology to improve key metrics such as productivity and efficiency, typically with the aid of cloud-based and remote-access devices.
Smart office technology is commonly used to strengthen existing physical and cyber security measures, to enable teams to communicate freely from any location and provide management teams with high-quality data used to improve performance, productivity and engagement. In most deployments, this will be accomplished using IoT devices and cloud-based solutions.
Remote-access security systems
By developing a bespoke network of IoT security devices and cloud-based management systems, modern businesses can ensure their offices are reliably protected from external threats around the clock. IoT-enabled security cameras, alarms, environmental sensors and access control systems can all be configured to share live data to improve physical security.
For example, by connecting commercial cloud IP cameras to a wider cloud-based security management system, security teams can view and adjust all installed devices remotely by simply logging into a web-based dashboard. In addition, if IoT motion sensors and alarms are triggered, automated alerts can be sent instructing teams to assess live camera feeds.
Developing a remote-access security system enables security and IT staff to manage active devices from within a single unified platform, with each device able to instruct the operation of the next. This means automated responses can be created, such as lockdowns triggered by movement in a restricted area, ultimately acting to improve on-site security management.
Energy-efficient building management
IoT environmental sensors such as temperature, motion, pressure and air quality measuring devices can be integrated into a wider cloud-based building management system to improve energy efficiency. Teams are able to use IoT sensors to monitor installed HVAC devices and automate the operation of heating, lighting and ventilation systems to reduce energy waste.
Business owners can choose unique thresholds for each system to respond to. For example, automated functions can be programmed to instruct lighting systems to turn off when no motion is detected for a set amount of time, and IoT temperature sensors can be designed to automatically adjust heating and cooling systems in response to approved climate settings.
Research suggests that the operation of smart building management systems instructed by IoT environmental sensors can reduce on-site energy consumption by almost 30%, helping businesses meet sustainability targets and avoid exorbitant energy bills. In addition, the data collected by IoT sensors can be analysed to inform future building developments.
Real-time productivity monitoring
IoT technologies and cloud-based systems have become essential tools for HR teams trying to manage productivity in remote and hybrid work environments. IoT sensors and software systems can be used to track a number of important metrics such as background noise, eye movement and keyboard presses to ensure teams are working efficiently from any location.
Though some of these tools may appear controversial, when managed appropriately such systems are beneficial to both staff and employers. For example, if sensors detect distracting levels of background noise, HR teams can organise a more suitable space for employees to work from. Or if productivity levels drop, staff can be offered personalised wellbeing support.
By providing HR teams with high-quality data pertaining to individual employees’ productivity levels, potential problems like burnout, stress or illness can be identified and addressed as quickly as possible, ensuring staff receive the support they need to excel in their positions.
Automated payroll processing
IoT and cloud-based systems can also be used to dramatically improve the management of core HR tasks through the development of automated processes. In particular, HR staff can lessen their workloads and free up more time to focus on complicated tasks by automating common repetitive actions such as payroll processing and wider time-management services.
IoT sensors combined with RFID tags installed in employee access cards can be used to provide HR staff with accurate real-time information relating to work hours and absenteeism. When employees pass by installed IoT sensors, personalised access logs will be recorded to provide HR staff with a reliable record of hours worked, with this data sent directly to payroll.
Of course, HR personnel will still need to evaluate these records to ensure no mistakes have been made, but AI software integrations can also be utilised to identify anomalous data and highlight records that may need further investigation. By automating these aspects of payroll processing, HR teams can instead focus on personalized support and well-being practices.
IoT occupancy and scheduling solutions
IoT motion and noise detection sensors installed in on-site workspaces and meeting rooms can help teams improve the management of existing scheduling systems. Management teams can simply log into a wider cloud-based platform to view both real-time and historic occupancy data to assess availability and better understand how workspaces are utilised.
Businesses can use this information to ensure staff numbers are consistent with demand throughout the year and improve the efficiency of installed HVAC systems by programming devices to activate at strategic intervals when certain workspaces are used more frequently.
The information recorded by IoT occupancy sensors can also be used to inform how amenity booking and visitor management systems operate, with such systems automatically updated to reflect newly recorded bookings, ensuring no spaces are double-booked or underutilised.
Advanced communications systems
Finally, modern smart offices and workspaces designed to accommodate remote and hybrid work structures must utilise advanced communications systems to promote collaboration. In addition to cloud-based video conferencing software and instant messaging platforms, IoT technologies installed in on-site meeting rooms can help hybrid teams remain connected.
Video conferencing systems can be deployed in on-premises meeting spaces and used to facilitate collaboration between remote and on-site staff. Interactive whiteboards can allow dispersed teams to adjust and edit the same document from different locations, with IoT occupancy sensors integrated into booking systems used to schedule important meetings.
Remote employees can also access cloud-based occupancy management systems to view real-time occupancy records, enabling them to request meetings or book available spaces efficiently without needing to contact a reception desk or on-site employees for assistance.
As more organisations across most major industries look to adopt modern work structures, business owners and management teams must turn towards smart technologies to ensure that employees remain connected, supported and engaged with their work at all times.
By utilising IoT sensors and cloud-based systems, organisations can receive real-time data to help improve operations and streamline the management of essential processes through the development of automated services and remote-access solutions. Combining essential processes such as security, scheduling, HVAC, and HR management within one accessible remote-access platform enables simplified management of business operations as a whole.