Return to Office Efforts Driving Investment in IoT
While the move to work from home was one of the few impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic to be well received, employers across the globe are increasingly pushing for a return to office work. Everyone from Capital One to Apple to Tesla is requiring employees to return to in-person work – and while the return has been slow thus far, some workers may be surprised by what they see when they head back into the office.
Many office buildings and workspaces are deploying IoT solutions to better maintain the safety and security of their occupants as a means of enticing businesses – and their employees – back onsite. Many of the ‘fixes’ being deployed are among the smart building technologies that are a driving force behind a 24% growth in IoT spending over the past year.
It’s clear building managers see these facility investments as a boon for companies hoping to bring their employees back to the office space. Let’s look at some of the ways IoT is helping the return to office.
Ensuring Social Distancing Through Workplace Monitoring
Though mask mandates and occupancy restrictions may have relaxed in recent months, many employees are hoping that a return to office also includes social distancing measures. Fortunately, modern IoT solutions can help employers and building managers better regulate the average population density within their spaces to maximize efficiency while minimizing risk.
By deploying sensors at entrances, lobbies, and other common areas, building managers can regulate and monitor the workforce present within a space to better avoid crowding. This not only creates a more comfortable environment for employees, it is also a boon to building owners who are increasingly turning to flex-space scheduling to cover for tenants utilizing a hybrid work schedule.
Accounting for offices that are empty or underutilized allows property managers to better manage their facilities by adjusting cleaning schedules, plotting HVAC operations around peak occupancy hours, and even making time for building upgrades that won’t interfere with tenants’ work schedules.
Ensuring a Clean and Healthy Return to Office
IoT solutions are also creating cleaner and healthier environments for employees to return to. It is estimated that property owners will invest as much as $11.7 billion in building automation solutions in 2022, with many of those technologies focused on creating healthier working environments.
Organizations like Charge Analytics use atmospheric sensors to monitor the air quality of a space to better protect workers on a job site, while others like Zan Compute monitor facilities for cleanliness and adjust cleaning schedules as needed.
With buildings and construction reportedly responsible for as much as 40% of global emissions, many organizations are also looking to lessen the carbon imprint of office buildings themselves. By using the aforementioned sensors to push occupancy, maintenance, and HVAC systems to peak operational efficiency, building managers can help to lessen their environmental impact. It’s no wonder, then, that deployments of these smart buildings are expected to triple by 2026.
Smart Solutions Are Just Part of the Return to Office
Even with conscientious building managers utilizing IoT devices to ensure a smooth return to office, employers should still anticipate some apprehension from their staff. Remote work has proven to be an effective means of skirting around occupancy limitations in the workplace, yet even as those restrictions loosen, Covid-19 and its many variants remain a very real concern.
As such, there is notable reluctance in the modern workforce to expose themselves to potential health risks after spending the past few years working from home. Employers will need to consider the feelings of their workforce before creating a return to office policy, or else risk backlash from their staff.
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