For as long as I can remember, I have always been told that the workplace is somewhere you go to work and get a paycheck. The workplace is not supposed to be fun, it is not a place for socializing, it is not meant to empower your individuality, and it certainly is not intended to provide you the comfort that your living room provides you. Over the past few years, technology startup companies are changing this mentality, and it is beginning to infiltrate larger corporations too. Finally, the idea that happy and empowered employees produce better products, engage with more satisfied customers, and ultimately drive higher revenue is becoming a popular thought. An idea that was once considered a waste of time and money is now becoming an important corporate strategy.
With the notion that satisfied and comfortable employees are willing to stay in the office longer, companies are now providing employees free meals, gym memberships, mental health vacations, and all day team outings. Offices now have beanbag chairs, ping-pong tables, board games and beer. They are now replacing Microsoft Office tools with tools more transferable to employees’ personal lives, such as Google Apps and Evernote. Employees are being empowered more than ever, with every idea taken into consideration by senior management, and all hands meetings allowing company news and information to flow throughout the organization. Employers are starting to show employees that they care about their happiness and comfort, their lives, and in turn employees are spending more time working because they care about producing a good product, making customers happy, and driving sales. The office is finally becoming a pleasant place to spend your day.
Though the workplace has come a long way in looking more like the ideal game room in your house, there are still many age-old inconveniences that have always been office annoyances. Many offices are still irrationally cold or warm, where employees wear jackets in the winter and plug in their fans in the summer. Desk lighting is still irritating on the eyes for many people. Meetings are still stuffy, and preparing for meetings is still dreadful. On certain days you have to come into work instead of working remotely just because of an hour-long meeting. Find me a person who doesn’t think shuffling through their wallet to find their ID card to get in the office isn’t a poor start to the day. And don’t get me started on those printers!
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees who were pleased with their physical workplace are 31 percent more likely to say they were satisfied with their jobs, 41 percent said the physical workplace would impact their decision to accept a job, and 51 percent said the quality of their workplace would influence their decision to leave. Even though employers have gone the extra mile to provide amenities for their employees, there are always roadblocks in improving the outdated nature of the building infrastructure and industrial corporate machines. These are not kitchen items, desk chairs or monitors, these are long lasting business machines…used for doing business daily. Although infrastructure and industrial machines may sound hard to replace, there are solutions to increase the comfort of each employee’s environment. Over the next decade, the Internet of Things will alleviate these inconveniences. The workplace will be a far more pleasant place to be with automation taking care of the manual tasks, and companies serving comfort to their employees as just another amenity.
Hardware and software enthusiasts in Silicon Valley and around the world are working hard to make this happen. About that piercingly cold air you suffer from 9-5, worry no more! Building Robotics is implementing a technology called Comfy, in which employees can adjust the temperature of their personal work area using their smart phone. Not only that, but machine learning will step in and automatically change the temperature to your personal preference when you walk into the office each day. Phillips and Cisco have partnered to resolve the problem of office lighting. Smart LED lights will brighten and dim office lighting based on the environment, and will also allow employees to personalize to their preference. Your workstation sounds so much more pleasant already, but what about those dreaded meetings? Firstly, your colleague working remotely can follow you from meeting to meeting using the IRobot Ava 500 Video Collaboration robot. The conference room will also be ready for you with the proper lighting and temperature when you walk in, with all videoconferences and presentations ready to go when you step in the door. You can replace that dreaded entry card by having the scanner simply detect your smart watch, which will also be able to help track productivity and daily fitness goals. Printers will be filled when paper is low, and more importantly, the fridge will be stocked when beer is low. You certainly want to ensure that your company isn’t going crazy monitoring your every step, but if used properly, the possibilities are endless with employees wearing smart watches.
Everyone can agree that automation makes life easier in the workplace. Spending less time worrying about performing manual tasks or suffering from discomfort, will result in an increase in productivity, and make you a happier employee. Though leaders have made great strides in this area, I believe IoT will continue to boost work productivity and employee satisfaction by combining automation with employee preference. Currently, in many areas of the office, there is only one way of doing things. With smart machines and infrastructure taking in personal preference, the employee’s work environment is inching closer to emulating their home environment by providing a comfortable setting tailored to their preferences. Comfort in the work place has come a long way, and will continue to make strides with IoT automation. And to think, it all started with being able to wear t-shirts to work.
How do you think IoT can make the workplace a happier place for employees? Please add your thoughts in the comments section!