We walk around, do our jobs, and see how everything is getting smarter. Self-driving cars, phones with the capacity of a computer, and smart home appliances are proof that technology has become a big part of our daily routine and yet, somehow, our workplace seems to lag behind on all this.
We are not discussing machines assuming control over our real positions, like in the enormous modern assembling. We are talking about only a few enhancements to the environment, so we can be more productive and feel more comfortable. In the workplace, technology does not necessarily take over our jobs: it helps us perform our roles better.
An organization's assets include so much, from money to machines and people. But making the office as an asset that can prove the return of investment (ROI) by contributing to the workflow is still not a popular idea among the business owners. Why not? There are needs and strategies for every asset to be used to its full potential, which should be true for the workplace.
Let your office space work for you! Look at it as an investment, and not simply a piece of real estate. It has the potential to be so much more.
Whether you are building your space from scratch or trying to utilize an existing one, the goal always is to make it as useful as possible. Upgrades to almost all aspects of the living conditions in an indoor environment are possible due to today's sophisticated technological solutions and the business should take advantage.
When we talk about "smart" and "connectivity," LoRa® and LoRaWAN® are the things that come to mind. And even though this is not the only option out there, its popularity is well deserved, as it has many benefits over the competition, the key features being coverage, energy efficiency, low cost, security for both devices, and network. This is the path that "smart" is following.
Modern smart technologies give ground to creating better living and working conditions that lead to a happier and more productive society. Progress is based on a variety of factors, but it is being judged by people, and for them, it is easy to put into words: does it make me a better version of myself?
As explained in Maslow's hierarchy of needs, certain criteria must be met so a person can thrive. That means that if the business wants its workers to be productive and to feel good at work, it needs to meet those basic needs of theirs. By doing that, the smart office gives ground to fulfilling those higher needs that lead to a person's growth. And if you think about it, it's only natural! Only when workers' basic needs are met can they concentrate on the important stuff: investing their time and energy to better themselves and their work.
To put it simply: By creating better working conditions you are creating better workers. And better workers means more profit! It is a win-win situation.
Things to have in mind
There are a lot of angles to be considered when creating a smart office. The network that you have to build will include a lot of devices and sensors, which can create a complicated scenario.
Start with the basics: lighting, temperature, humidity, and dustiness. These are maybe the most essential variables you want to monitor and control because you can directly link them with one's wellbeing. A bad environment can cause health issues that may lead not only to an increase in sick leave time of the workers but affect them mentally as well. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for IoT solutions in the market. A wide range of sensors and nodes for monitoring and regulating those parameters make the development of the perfect network easy. With the right tools that network can become fully automated, leaving the workspace with the best conditions.
Using a wireless approach to connect your devices is perhaps the easiest and most space-saving solution to use as space is precious these days. IoT is all about going wireless and making cable management a thing of the past! "Comfortable to use" and "accessible" can now both be used as terms for item arrangement around the office.
Achieving synergy, through good communication between lighting, HVAC systems, and control systems is the ultimate goal of a smart office solution. Improvements, however, are always possible and not only in those categories. Security and safety is another branch in the "smart office" idea that IoT can help you with. Prompt warning in case of emergency, automated security and evacuation protocols ensure everyone's safety and wellbeing.
In the center of all this are the people – the workers and their interactions that make all those processes click. Build a network compliant with your employees' behavior. Get a live feed of the workflow and eliminate the processes that are not beneficial like ghost meetings for example. Better communication is the key to better understanding the needs of everyone involved, and the office can be a big part of that communication. With the right improvements, you will not only gain a better understanding of the team's behavior, boosting their work experience but at the same time give them control over the environment itself, adjusting it to their needs. The office does not need to be passive. You can make it interactive!
On another note, energy-wasting habits are a big problem in today's world , but IoT can help. Upgrades and optimization, even in the workplace, lead to increased efficiency and equates to less waste of resources. Utilizing every aspect of the business' assets, including the office, is not only eco-friendly but saves money as well. With the right IoT solution, you can lower the power consumption and save on electricity bill. The same applies to water and other office necessities.
And speaking of lower bills, cost-efficiency is a matter that every business owner is interested in, right? With a sophisticated network, it is possible to determine the user demand, as well as forecast, calculate, and optimize power consumption. Automated processes like that and digitalization, in general, can lower expenses and make the most of the available resources without wasting energy.
A simple solution to a complicated problem
We have covered various parameters that need simultaneous monitoring. No single node or sensor can process that amount of data alone and keep size and power consumption to a reasonable level. But there is a solution that is called modularity. Modular systems are truly a lifesaver in complex projects like smart offices. You have the freedom to fully customize every device to suit your unique needs and cover as many parameters as possible.
At RAKwireless, the other name for modularity is WisBlock!
Introducing LPWAN connectivity to your smart office solution has never been easier. With its Plug & Play functionality and a wide range of sensors and actuators to choose from, WisBlock is the modular system that can help you adapt to many different scenarios. WisBlock was developed by RAKwireless with the specific goal of giving the IoT sector a boost in both development speed and solution deployment.
WisBlock has many advantages: small size, industrial rated connectors that allow using the same modules in testing and the final product, and the simplified software package based on Arduino, PlatformIO (Python in development). It is perfect for all sorts of custom solutions. Developers and end-users alike can solve any number of potential use cases with the set of hardware and software tools that WisBlock provides.
You can mix and match your modules however you like just by clicking them in place. It is like Lego for LoRa!
First, you have WisBase – the platform carrier that is providing the power supply, battery, and solar panel connectors, and charging block. Additionally, it has connectors for programming and debugging for your soon-to-be custom device.
Then comes the WisCore – the processing unit. This one has LoRa/LoRaWAN connectivity, and some versions also offer WiFi, Bluetooth, or Bluetooth Low Energy. We are working on other options like Nb-IoT and Sigfox as well. Stay tuned!
After that – the fun part – WisSensor! You can choose from a variety of sensors that will truly make your device unique. Plug the ones that you need, experiment, change them, and do it again! The combos are up to you.
Cap it all off with WisIO Extensions! They provide your application with interfaces and communication extensions that are not covered by WisCore or WisSensor blocks. Just the right thing, the "something more" that was missing to make your device whole.
Everything is designed for battery optimized low-power consumption so your new device will last longer and charge quickly when out of juice, be it via the grid or a solar panel. This will guarantee autonomous operation that can last for years on end.
One WisBase allows the easy plug-in of 1 WisCore processing board, up to 4 WisSensor boards, and 1 WisIO interface board. Taking into account the rich variety of IO and sensor boards, the combinations are more than enough to meet your needs.
Higher employee productivity, energy-saving, and better utilization of real estate are just some of the areas that you can benefit from implementing the concept of a smart office in your business model.
No matter if you are a developer or just an enthusiast, for more details regarding WisBlock, visit our new Documentation Center. After all, informed decisions are the best ones. If you have the inspiration and ideas then we have the tools to make them true, and build a workplace that will work for you!
Just Click, Code, Connect!