The “Internet of Things” (or IoT) has opened up a world of possibilities for businesses and employees in virtually every industry. The Human Cloud At Work study led by Dr Chris Brauer of the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London found that when employees wear devices such as brain activity sensors, motion monitors and posture coaches, it can actually increase their productivity and improve their job satisfaction. The study found that productivity for people using wearable technology increased 8.5 percent, while their job satisfaction levels increased 3.5 percent.
Here’s a look at several other specific ways that IoT can help drive employee productivity:
- Better data. IoT offers a variety of ways to collect better data that previously might have been tallied up manually (and thus would be much more prone to human error). Smarter data about peak times in a restaurant or retail establishment (collected via IoT devices) could help the owners make better decisions about employee scheduling to maximize productivity. Other types of companies might use data collected from employees to pinpoint their most productive times, and schedule meetings accordingly.
- Location tracking. When equipment and devices are Internet-connected and geographically tagged, employees can find equipment more easily instead of searching around for it. This is especially helpful in a hospital setting, where extra time could have life or death consequences, but it could also be useful for retail or traditional office settings. Not only will your employees spend less time locating misplaced supplies, but if they know a piece of equipment has location-tracking, it’s a deterrent from potential theft (the National Retail Federation estimated that in 2011, employee theft cost companies a whopping $34.5 billion!).
- Remote device management. IT departments can already trouble-shoot computers and mobile devices remotely, but IoT takes remote device management to a whole new level. When a piece of manufacturing equipment requires maintenance, employees may have downtime as they wait for a technician to arrive and repair the equipment (not to mention the lost revenue from a manufacturing slowdown). But with Internet-enabled devices, employees can get advance notice about a potential issue and in some cases, the device can be fixed remotely in much less time.On the manufacturer’s side, remote device management can substantially reduce the need for in-person tech support call-outs: For instance, one industrial cleaning products company had previously averaged four proactive site visits per year for a single customer to maintain and fix equipment. After implementing IoT remotely-managed technology, the company has been able to substantially reduce the number of on-site visits required, freeing employees up for other project work.
- Simplified micro tasks. Many employees spend a good chunk of their day performing tasks that aren’t necessarily in their job description and don’t contribute to the company’s bottom line such as adjusting the thermostat, restocking the fridge, brewing coffee or checking the weather. Internet-connected thermostats, refrigerators, coffeemakers and watches can also streamline and simplify these tasks so that the temperature automatically adjusts based on time of day, or the coffeemaker starts up when the caffeine-addicted VP comes into work wearing a location-aware smartwatch. These improvements will give employees more time to focus on their core business function.