Making the workplace a smarter place to work

March 25, 2019 by Peter Smith, head of business development, iaconnects
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Making the workplace a smarter place to work

The term “Smarter Working” gives the impression that employees will benefit from new or updated ways of working. However, organisations need to take a number of factors into consideration when creating their smart workplace.

Humans are creatures of habit, but with flexi-desking becoming ever more popular, it can have a negative impact on those who have a preferred desk or area. There could be any number of reasons why a person could be 5 minutes late to work e.g. late running public transport and this could mean they can’t sit at their usual desk due to it being occupied. To some people this may seem trivial, but to others it can cause differing levels of stress and anxiety especially for employees who are used to, or prefer, a specific routine.

Organisations need to consult their employees before making blanket changes to a workplace, taking staff wellbeing into account. There are a number of factors that can affect wellbeing and productivity at work. These include, but are not exclusive too:

  • Fixed desk - does an employee feel more comfortable knowing they can use the same desk each day, working alongside the same people?
  • Natural light - is someone more productive working in an area with more/less natural light?
  • Temperature - what is the optimum temperature for an individual to work in?
  • Air Quality and CO2 levels – do some areas have higher levels of CO2 than others? If so, does this cause the productivity levels to decrease?
  • Noise levels – employees can be more productive when working in areas with more/less noise than others.
  • Proximity to facilities such as bathrooms, water coolers etc – some employees feel more comfortable when they are closer to certain facilities. Other may prefer to be further away if they like to stretch their legs every so often.


All of the above points can contribute to productivity of an organization. But how can and IoT solution have such an impact?

It is becoming much more common for organisations to have some or all of their desks included in a flexi-desk policy. A simple solution from iaconnects could include:

  • iaconnects MobiusFlow gateway
  • Employee dashboard or mobile application showing real time data, allowing employees to make an informed desk choice based on a number of factors
  • seat and/or desk occupancy sensors to show which desks are available
  • Door and window magnetic contact sensors to show which doors and windows are open/closed
  • Presence detection sensors for meeting rooms and communal areas
  • People Counter to detect how many people have moved in and out of specific areas
  • Air Quality and CO2 sensors which will push alerts to the building managers and/or employees informing them when levels are too high, and action needs to be taken
  • Temperature and Humidity sensors showing data for specific areas in the workplace
  • Noise level sensors, again showing data for specific areas in the workplace

By processing live data through the MobiusFlow gateway into an employee accessed application, you will be able to see where free desks or rooms are immediately, instead of walking aimlessly trying to find a free space. Being able to make an informed decision on which desk you would like to use as you enter the building not only saves time, but also helps to improve an individual’s wellbeing.

The latest installation, based on the iaconnects solution outlined above, was installed at Digital Catapult in London. The images below/above/in this article show the Home, Occupancy and Environment tabs of the desktop application.

Peter Karney, head of product innovation at Digital Catapult, commented, “We were absolutely delighted that iaconnects showcased their products at the launch of Digital Catapults Future Networks Lab. Their platform and wide range of sensors provides an elegant and effective method to solve office occupancy and utilisation challenges and addresses a significant market need. In the area of IoT we see this to be an exciting and expanding area.”

There may well be other factors to take into consideration, and these will often be unique to an organisation e.g. How can wasted time be reduced even further?
Adding a feature to the employee application can allow the reservation of a desk. Rules can be added to the application so that once an employee has chosen a desk on the app, they would have 10 minutes to get to the desk and the sensors would pick up on this and update the application. If they have not arrived within 10 minutes, the desk will show as being unoccupied again.

The MobiusFlow gateway provides the valuable sensor information to intelligent IoT platforms such as IBM Watson or Microsoft Azure, for smart data usage. Large organisations could make significant savings by reducing the number of wasted working hours. Implementing these solutions and systems can provide key benefits including increased employee productivity and energy/cost savings.

 


MobiusFlow is an IoT gateway operating environment developed by iaconnects. It enables actuators, sensors & controllers to connect, control and communicate with each other and to the Cloud so that IoT solutions using scalable monitoring, visualisation and predictive analytics can provide valuable insights into your business and act upon them automatically.

MobiusFlow has been designed to be agnostic to the sensors, devices, and protocols connected to it, as well as being agnostic to the cloud platform it connects to. MobiusFlow can run on a wide variety of hardware ranging from ARM 7 CPUs right up to the latest Intel and AMD multicore processors.

All sensor and computed data is normalised and encrypted at the edge to ensure consistent secure data in the cloud. Sensors, connectivity, and logic are configured in a drag-and-drop environment allowing applications including smart buildings, environmental monitoring, asset management, industrial monitoring, and control systems to be realised all within the same environment.

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