Understanding & Communicating the Benefits of IoT Integration
IoT sensors have incredible potential to help private and public organizations alike. They have already helped many companies save vast sums on heating, cooling, and electricity costs. Card readers and CCTV cameras have been improving security for decades.
But organizations and managers aren’t the only ones who see the benefits.
There are dozens of ways that IoT sensors and the data they provide can help make the workplace better for individual employees.
But do all employees welcome adoption of these systems? Millennials who’ve grown up with digital technology in hand often don’t have a problem, but workers from older cohorts may have questions or concerns.
How Workplace IoT Can Make Life at Work Better
Before we talk about how to effectively introduce employees to new IoT systems, let’s talk about some of the exciting possibilities that are on the horizon – or already here.
Keeping it Cool
Most people are familiar with the systems that make a facility a smart building, adjusting heating and cooling automatically to create more comfortable environments.
These systems have gone beyond regular thermostats to ones that can, for example, lower blinds to reduce sun exposure on a hot day, reducing the need for cooling. On a more granular level, infrared or motion sensors can be used to sense how many people are in a space so climatic systems can act faster to compensate for body heat.
Proximity sensors have great applications for employees, like locating empty desks near others on their team. Location tracking can help employees find each other in large facilities without having to phone or go through the “where are you?” text messaging dance.
It’s the Little Things
Small frustrations can add up. Eliminating them makes people feel better and focus on their tasks.
Imagine coffee makers or vending machines that always know when supplies are running low, so they’re never allowed to run out. Removing minor annoyances like these go a long way to keeping your team happy – not to mention fully caffeinated and at a positive blood sugar level.
If restrooms never run out of toilet paper, it saves annoyance (and anxiety), as well as time spent reporting the issue.
Your maintenance team will be able to use their time more effectively as a result of the lack of minor issues, and are free to deal with more urgent or pressing issues.
Positivity and Productivity
More complex systems are starting to be used to map employee behaviour, such as tone of voice, rate of gesturing, and rate of interruptions to tell when people are engaged in meetings. This information can be used to help plan better meetings, and/or change meeting times to ones where meetings would be more welcome and productive.
Further, these and other types of monitoring can be used to identify and help HR managers mitigate toxic behaviour.
Safety and Security
On construction sites, proximity sensors and wearable health monitors are already preventing accidents and saving lives. For public safety workers like firefighters and police, these systems have enormous potential.
Some of these systems are AI (artificial intelligence) or machine learning enabled, and can improve on responses over time.
From Fear to Familiarity to Engagement
Many people are already wearing personal health monitors or using voice assistants and IoT devices in the home. But for some, IoT and big data are worrying when used in the workplace.
In a recent study, 48% of adults would be less likely to want to work for an organization if it failed to disclose or was unclear about workplace surveillance. For 80%, the main deterrent was facial recognition, but other causes for concern included mandatory health tracking (especially sleep tracking) through wearables.
The great news is that transparency and effective communication (as well as what you monitor and why) can make a big difference.
Three Key Steps
These principles will help get your team on board with new systems:
- Full disclosure of the systems in place, and dialoguing about changes to come builds trust with employees and gives them a chance to influence decision making.
- Explaining how the new tech will make their job easier, faster, or even more safe will demonstrate that the benefits go both ways. Providing positive incentives, like bonuses tied to productivity increases, will also help demonstrate goodwill.
- Some organizations have effectively eased the transition for wearables by offering them as an option. As workers see their colleagues benefitting from the tech, fears are eased and adoption increases.
Security First – Keeping IT in the Loop
When it comes to IoT devices, your IT team should be heavily involved in the decision making. Keeping IoT systems secure requires expertise and adherence to best practices.
As well, be sure all employees know your policies about their personal devices. Some people are born early adopters, and may be tempted to bring in smart devices of their own. If connected to your workplace systems, they could compromise security. Some items that record sound or video could violate privacy regulations.
Helping Your Organization Benefit from IoT Insights
There’s no doubt that IoT and related technologies will be making buildings smarter, employees happier, and processes more efficient in the future.
Horizant Solutions can advise your organization on integrated workplace management solutions (IWMS) and effective use of IoT devices and the analytics they provide.