Whether or not we would choose to admit it, many of us are already technically living our lives in ‘smart homes’. It started with the smartphones – those deceptively powerful devices that have become like extensions of ourselves in recent years. Then came the smart speakers. Before we knew it, our social and personal lives were inundated with devices that allowed us to order our groceries and control the heating and lighting in our homes using little more than simple voice commands.
This is a technology that exists to make our lives easier and to keep us connected and it’s only a matter of time before that ease and that connection makes its way to the workplace – the smart office. Indeed, many workplaces are already experimenting with the internet of things (IoT) and whilst it might initially only affect the major tech firms, it will soon permeate even the most humble of workplaces.
Of course, whilst our workplaces stand to benefit greatly from the introduction of these devices, there are dangers associated with it too. So, with a trillion IoT devices set to be in use by 2025, how is the IoT set to help and hinder businesses in the near future.
Convenience – With more internet of things devices comes greater convenience. With smart devices taking care of monitoring the office temperature, knowing when to lock and unlock doors and even let you know when the shared office fridge has run out of milk, the sheer power of this convenience can prove quite intoxicating. There is also the convenience of having a connected security system that will be able to vet personnel and react accordingly. It’s a combination of little things making work life feel just that little bit less like a chore.
Efficiency – Whilst certain publications might have led us to believe otherwise, the internet of things is far more than just a novelty. Yes, it can be used to conjure up a few neat party tricks, but it can also be a solution to a number of workplace problems. Connected devices that track employee activity, for example, can be used to incentivise more efficient work. There are already many devices built with workplace IoT functionality in mind and even small things like wearable health trackers will help employees to stay active and healthy. And active, healthy workers are happy and productive workers.
Distraction – The internet is rife with distractions, to the extent that many offices have been forced to install social media bans during work hours. Whilst IoT devices offer a range of features that will help to increase productivity, there is also the flip side of the coin to consider – chiefly the fact that the more connected devices that exist, the more potential distractions employees might find to steal their attention.
Security – We always make sacrifices for convenience and one of the major sacrifices we’re making by bringing the IoT to work is security. Connected devices leave themselves open to attack and currently have limited defence capabilities. If a hacker takes control of your connected office they could wreak some serious havoc. This is particularly true if you have installed a smart security system. However, as long as you use top-tier security solutions and remember to update them frequently, you should be safe.
The internet of things is, ultimately, a technology that’s still in its infancy and there are still teething problems to contend with. That means it’s absolutely imperative that businesses seriously considering early adoption should choose their devices carefully – starting small at first and slowly building up the office. There should also be a team on hand that know how to manage these devices and take advantage of all the data they will inevitably collect. Only then will the internet of things truly reveal its full workplace potential.