The Dominance of IoT in Improving Your Workforce Management is Only Going to Increase
The Internet of Things, abbreviated as "IoT," is one of those technologies that can potentially rescue you from your work-related and workforce-related challenges seen today with hybrid working models. IoT applications in modern workplaces help in boosting workforce productivity and safety, improve employee experience, and optimize resource utilization. They also help organizations make better decisions regarding task allocations and salary appraisals, resulting in revenue gains and business growth.
The unprecedented growth in remote workforces during and after the pandemic accelerated the adoption of IoT enabled workforce management tools within the organizations because of the easy connectivity, seamless interoperability, enhanced decision-making, and smart working environments they provide.
Currently, the competition among companies in every sector is becoming so intense, that it has become a necessity for the businesses to establish an ecosystem where every process within the organization is digitized. IoT plays an important role in doing that and this is shaping the future of the businesses. With the advent of connected enterprises, slow technology adoption by the companies will be compelled to permanently lag in terms of growth and expansion.
On the other hand, a technology-driven workforce management system allows businesses to stay ahead of time as it helps them to run their day-to-day operations flawlessly and, at the same time, enables employees to gain job satisfaction and stay motivated. An effectively managed workforce can drive business growth and accelerate revenue. This is why businesses use the best workforce management software as that helps them to improve their employees’ performance, engagement, and productivity.
This article explains everything you need to know about IoT-enabled workforce management systems, and aims to help the readers comprehend the fact that the dominance of IoT in your workforce management is only going to increase. Let's start with the basics first.
What is IoT?
Internet of Things or IoT is used to describe connected devices through the internet. The IoT devices are loaded with sensors, software, and technologies to exchange information and perform various actions. Some of the most used examples of IoT-powered devices are smartwatches, driverless cars, drones, automated robots, and many more that have transformed the way people work and live. From the business perspective, IoT has helped companies overcome all the challenges relating to communication, resources management, cost control, and customer satisfaction.
To better understand this subject, let's look at the components of IoT, which clearly explain how this technology works.
Components of IoT
Sensors or devices collect data from the surrounding environment. For example, sensor-embedded machines can monitor the speed and performance of the production unit on a real-time basis and notify if there are any complexities in temperature control, power consumption, etc.
Sensors and devices collect data that is transferred to cloud infrastructure via different mediums like WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular networks, etc. These network connectivity options differ in terms of range, bandwidth, and power consumption and can be chosen according to the infrastructure requirements.
After the data is transferred to the cloud server, different applications can be used to process and analyze the information. This can be checking the speed of a machine or intruder entering your office premises. An IoT cloud server handles data collected by different devices, manages traffic, and analyzes information accurately.
There might be situations where user interactions are required. For example, if you find some problem in the machine at your workplace that can harm your workers, you can immediately trigger an alarm notifying your workforce and saving their lives. In certain emergency situations, you can even program your IoT systems to automatically trigger alarms and notifications by setting certain predefined rules.
Currently, IoT is considered one of the most trending technologies being used in offices, homes, and industries. As per the 2021 report, around 34% of organizations in North America and Europe were using IoT for their business processes, and another 12% are planning to do so in the near future.
This surge in the adoption of IoT is because it enables businesses to expand their digital capabilities, improve their operations, increase productivity, and follow secure processes, which eventually leads to generating more profits.
IoT is a concept that is driving high level connectivity which is resulting in better quality data collection and analytics helping the businesses and society in many amazing ways. Autonomous manufacturing robots, self-driving cars, remote medical devices, and intelligent home appliances are some of the excellent innovations powered by IoT. So, let’s have a look at some of the latest trends in IoT that are likely to take workforce management to the next level.
Latest Trends in IoT
Edge intelligence is related to analyzing data and developing solutions at the spot where data has been generated. Traditionally, in a digital workspace, the data is captured from different sources and is processed and analyzed in a centralized location. This can be a threat to businesses in terms of security and information leakage.
IoT with edge intelligence improves the agility in data handling and processing as well as enhances their safety and security. Companies might have excelled at data collection using IoT but converting that data into actionable insights and doing that in a prompt manner is something they are still struggling to achieve. IoT with edge intelligence can help companies to overcome this challenge. It helps in gathering critical information and immediately adjust to current conditions fostering enhanced security of the workforces.
Device Platform Convergence
Device platform convergence refers to connecting two or more devices and capturing data from them regardless of which platform or technology they are using. A secure and successful IoT setup requires a converged data model that harnesses the power of more than one device and platform to come up with the unique solutions benefitting the workforce and companies. A unified technology landscape allows companies to capture data from multiple devices powered by diversified technologies for delivering optimized intelligent solutions and responses.
For example, organizations are composed of machines, industrial equipment which need to connect with servers, storage devices, networks, etc., to process data and get desired output. IoT enabled device platform convergence can help in combining separate domains with distinctly different skill sets and come up with solutions that enable employees to work effortlessly in a smart manner.
Matter (Multi Vendor Interoperability)
IoT growth is now not restricted due to connectivity issues. Companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and many others are coming up with products that enable multi vendor interoperability. This means consumers can now buy IoT powered products like light switches, door locks, cameras, etc. that easily connect and plug-and-play with the existing home networks and ecosystems. This concept refers to “Matter” which is used for the internet of things and “Thread” which refers to low power mesh networks like Zigbee and Z-Wave. Thread sends messages using IP compatible with Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Whereas, Matter interprets those messages and communicates them with Matter-compatible devices.
When it comes to workforce management, companies these days are striving to build multi-vendor infrastructures that help them to pull out information from any of their equipment and analyze that information for the purpose of making smart decisions. Being able to connect multi-vendor devices becomes extremely convenient within workplaces as it reduces the hassle of complicated configurations or investing in devices that are compatible with the existing ones. The approach towards buying equipment or devices without worrying about whether it would be compatible with the existing ones has become priceless for the companies these days because of the trend of multi-vendor interoperability within the IoT ecosystems.
Thus, the use of IoT has become quite significant within the business organizations because managing the workforce was very different before the pandemic than it is today. The great resignation movement is still in full swing. Companies are now focusing on retaining their top talent by introducing employee-friendly policies that include more flexibility and better work-life balance. Following flexible work timings and taking care of the employees' health & safety has become the priority for the businesses. For that, they now need significant upgrades in their workforce management systems.
Traditional workforce management tools perform simple tasks like tracking employees' attendance, scheduling, and reporting. These tools are not designed to handle dynamic workforce and their flexible schedules. Relying on these obsolete systems that cannot support the latest trends in workforce management can probably result in losing valuable talent to competitors. Ultimately, a lack of a skilled workforce means declined productivity and revenue loss for a business organization.
Smart workforce management professionals focus on the trends impacting their workforce and execute the latest technologies that can help overcome the prevailing challenges emerging from changes in employees' work preferences, employment laws imposed by the government, and workforce health & safety issues.
Now, let's explore some IoT uses in workforce management that have enabled businesses to improve employee engagement & productivity and, at the same time, establish safe working conditions.
How Does IoT Help in Workforce Management?
Effective workforce management requires achieving a certain level of productivity, establishing smooth operations, and using competent applications and tools. IoT can help you do that in many different ways. Below are some of the uses of IoT that have helped companies effectively optimize and strengthen their three pillars in workforce management - people, process, and technology.
Improving Productivity and Safety
IoT is known to connect devices that help exchange information, find things easily, and provide directions to people accurately, which ultimately cultivates high productivity levels. Connected workstations using IoT can help in tracking, controlling, and managing various operations across a business in less time with minimum human efforts. Moreover, IoT-enabled devices and sensors can help in monitoring huge outdoor worksites on a real-time basis, thus decreasing the chances of workers' injuries and saving their lives.
Fostering Collaboration in Hybrid Workplace
Employees prefer working in hybrid environments, especially after a pandemic outbreak. Collaboration in hybrid workplaces is challenging, but it can be made easier with the help of IoT-based collaboration software. Employees can share information on a real-time basis easily and collaborate effectively. For example, IoT sensors play a significant role in gathering information from meeting spaces, whether virtual or physical, and help employees make decisions and improve.
IoT has the potential to connect every device, asset, machinery, and equipment to a single network using sensors. These intelligent sensors enable you to track assets and control their utilization. Which departments need which machinery can be determined with the help of data generated from IoT-enabled devices, which can help make the most out of resources and reduce wastage. This makes the workflow smooth, eventually assisting the workforce in performing better and gaining job satisfaction.
Managing Work Space
IoT can help create modern workplaces that help optimize space usage in the workplace. After the pandemic outbreak, it became essential to maintain distance between the seating arrangements of the employees to keep them safe. IoT can help manage the workspaces most optimally, reducing wastage and simultaneously making the best use of resources and maintaining the processes within the organization running smoothly.
Making Buildings More Energy Efficient
IoT sensors can monitor the air quality, temperature, and lights within your workplace premises. Based on the number of occupants within the workspace, IoT can adjust the temperature, lighting, and ventilation and make the environment comfortable for the employees. The employees working within a healthy environment stay happy and yield better productivity.
Creating Personalized Work Environments
IoT sensors have made the lives of employees easier. For example, employees can sign in and sign out from their workplaces by just tapping on the smartwatch they wear on their wrists. There have been many IoT applications installed in workplaces that enable employees to adjust their AC temperature, workplace lights, and seating arrangements from remote locations. Thus, IoT has the potential to provide personalized experiences to the workforce enabling companies to boost their profits and accelerate their market value.
With so much disruption and uncertainty occurring due to the changing market conditions and employee expectations after the pandemic, IoT-enabled devices and systems have become an essential part of workforce management. Today, identifying and addressing workforce management challenges has become significant to remain competitive and ensure future success. Though workforce management challenges can vary depending on the business size and type, here are some of the common ones with relevant IoT solutions.
What are the Workforce Management Challenges, and How Does IoT Help in Overcoming Them?
There are situations when you may find the performance of your employees deteriorating, which may be due to many reasons like inadequate training, insufficient motivation, unrealistic targets, no direction, and many more. IoT technology fosters better collaboration, and hassle-free communication between employees, thus helping them improve their performance. Moreover, automating tasks enables employees to free up their time for more strategic and revenue-generating tasks, which ultimately increases the level of their job satisfaction and motivates them to deliver better results.
Communication gaps within the teams can be disastrous for any business organization. The absence of efficient communication channels and physical distances can create a communication gap between employees. IoT devices include wireless sensors and computing devices that allow data to be transmitted automatically among people or objects without any human intervention, thus eliminating communication gaps within an organization.
Talent shortage occurs when the management fails to decide the right time to hire new employees. Also, there might be a lack of suitable job seekers in the market, due to which the company can be short of the right talent. IoT-based applications help forecast the talent requirements within the company and enable managers to make the right hiring decisions at the right time. This can help organizations overcome the challenge of talent shortage and keep the processes running smoothly.
Lack of teamwork can also be one of the major workforce management issues that need to be adequately addressed. Usually, it happens when team members lack the tools that help them remain on the same page and have updated information at their fingertips. In that situation, the team members act according to their information, and the company suffers financial losses. IoT-based applications help team members to collaborate accurately and efficiently, keeping every team member in the loop and maintaining harmony within the organization.
Poor Safety & Hygiene
Whether it is chemical exposure, equipment breakdowns, or virus spread, the workers in an organization are exposed to many safety and hygiene-related issues. Though there are required personal safety rules and regulations that are applied within the organization, managers often remain unaware of the dangers approaching or when the workers are reaching their physical thresholds. In such situations, IoT and smart connected devices provide an unprecedented level of visibility over the employees' health and surrounding environments, thus enabling companies to ensure the health and safety of their workers.
As an IoT integrated workforce management system can help manage workers in different work locations within company premises and on-site, it helps take the organization's efficiency, safety, collaboration, and productivity to the next level. Using IoT sensors and mobile devices loaded with the right workforce management software can provide complete visibility of the workforce and workflow progress, enabling organizations to improve business performance and make accurate decisions.
A carefully selected IoT-powered workforce management system can help businesses meet their goals and, at the same time, improve the safety of their workforce. Below are some unique features you need to look for in your IoT-based workforce management solution for your organization.
Unique Features of IoT Based Workforce Management Software
Multiple Sites Integration
Your employees might be working from different on-site locations and within your company premises. Keeping track of all the employees working from multiple locations can become difficult without a proper system in place. An IoT-based workforce management software can help you monitor your workforce's progress from a centralized location and resolve productivity issues, enabling you to make prompt decisions based on data-driven insights.
When thousands of employees work in different locations and shifts, accurately managing attendance becomes critical. IoT sensors and devices can track the presence of employees within workplaces and on sites. Based on that information, the IoT-based workforce management software automatically updates the attendance information found on the workforce entrance and exit. The workforce management system also alerts you when there is the absence of any employee reported enabling you to assign replacement and eliminate productivity loss.
IoT-based workforce management systems enable real-time tracking and visibility of projects and help analyze and ensure the required work quality and quantity are achieved. Keeping track of project schedules and task completion allows you to identify the delayed tasks impacting the deliverables and deal with the causes of those delays before time and save the company from financial losses. Besides that, productivity assessment also helps analyze the individual employees' performance and helps managers provide financial and job appraisals accurately to the people who deserve it.
To provide the best working experience to your employees, it is important that you pay them accurately and on time. Based on attendance tracking, the IoT-based workforce management software automatically calculates the employees' salary based on the number of hours they have worked. The automated salary calculation relieves you of time-consuming activities of paying your employees and simultaneously help you in analyzing the inefficiencies and controlling costs with much more detail.
Keeping employees safe within workplaces or on-site locations is highly significant to staying compliant with industry standards. The IoT sensors installed at the workplace can monitor every detail of the environment, detect issues and notify them immediately. Based on that information, you can declare emergencies and even evacuate places before time to ensure the safety of your employees. Utilizing IoT devices connected to the workforce management system, managers can quickly detect the missing employees' location and send rescue teams to save them from any dangerous situation.
Alerts and Notifications
The workforce management system powered by IoT can help send configurable alerts and notifications in case of urgent and emergency situations requiring immediate attention. The system should effortlessly allow the managers and supervisors to detect suspicious activities within the premises or someone who is trying to enter the restricted areas and alert them accordingly to keep the workplace safe and equip employees with a secure working environment.
When it comes to implementing an IoT-based workforce management system, security becomes the biggest concern. With so much data being exchanged from different sensors and devices, the chances of information leakage increase. The IoT-based workforce management software you select should include robust security features that include role-based access control, password encryption, and two-way authentication to keep critical data safe from malicious activities.
Thus, from the above features, it can be concluded that the IoT-based workforce management system is powered by two major forces - connectivity and automation.
In view of these features, the IoT-based workforce management systems employ various other technologies to ensure communication between multiple devices, automatic data transfer, and analysis. Some of these technologies that make automation, communication, and analysis possible are AI (Artificial Intelligence) & ML (Machine Learning), Big Data, cloud computing, and wireless communication technologies.
Let's look at how these features of IoT-based workforce management systems result in several benefits to employees and companies.
Thus, IoT has played a significant role in building smarter workplaces that directly and positively impact workforce management. Looking into these benefits, it is evident that IoT has empowered businesses to boost their productivity and profitability in this competitive and digitally transforming world. Let's look at how IoT is building more innovative and intelligent workplaces harnessing efficient operations and better employee experiences.
The Role of IoT in Building Smarter Workplaces
Calling a workplace "smart" requires embedding technology that makes that workplace more practical, convenient, safe, efficient, and profitable. The ultimate goal is to integrate automation and deliver efficiency and flawlessness beyond what humans can provide. So, what makes a workplace smarter, and how does it help manage the workforce better? Let's have a look at this subject in detail.
Lighting and Climate Control
With just a simple tap on a mobile's screen, the employees can control lights and air conditioning within the workplace. Every employee's preferences are different, and allowing them to choose the environment they want to work in can improve their morale and productivity.
Security and Fire Safety
IoT-powered sensors installed everywhere in the workplace ensure that the entire area is being monitored with different angle views, light, and zoom features. In case of any suspicious activity, IoT devices send signals to the authorities and thus keep the employees safe within the premises.
IoT sensors can detect the occupancy level of the workspace and accordingly can adjust the lights and air conditioners, which helps save energy. The energy-saving aspect within the workplace provides convenience to the employees and monetarily benefits the companies.
There are shared office spaces, equipment, assets, tools, and other resources which need to be checked for availability and booked when required. IoT applications allow employees to easily check the availability of the resources and book them ahead of time to avoid any discrepancies.
So, these are some of the important attributes of intelligent workspaces that, if implemented, can help you understand and monitor your office premises and manufacturing units in an excellent manner, which ultimately leads to improved productivity and attracting top talent to work with your organization.
Now, let's look at what the future holds for IoT in workforce management.
How is IoT Shaping the Future of Workforce Management?
Brian Chesky, Co-founder & CEO of Airbnb unveiled the facility extended by the company that allows employees to work from anywhere in their country without a change in pay. He says that the “Office as we know it is over.”
Thus, there are many transformations in the office and workplace setups being implemented as we step into the post pandemic era. Employees now prefer working in hybrid work environments where they get the freedom of where and when to work. To make this arrangement successful, IoT plays a major role. Below-mentioned are some examples of how IoT has made hybrid work models successful for businesses.
The Edge in Amsterdam is now well known as “the smartest office space ever constructed” because they use IoT based applications that allot parking spaces and assign workspaces to the employees based on their schedules and preferences. This helps in supporting a hybrid work environment to a greater extent and makes the work environment energy efficient.
Google has created a post-pandemic workspace in their new California office that provides excellent working experience for the employees who got used to working from home during pandemic conditions. Instead of traditional cubicles, they have implemented “Team Pods” which include chairs, desks, storage units, and whiteboards that are movable and can be rearranged in a matter of hours.
Cisco’s new smart office in NYC is equipped with IoT sensors, wireless access points including 92 video endpoints. The conference rooms include multi-media with Webex gear which has enhanced the collaboration experience of in-office and remote workers. The IoT sensor monitors the number of workers working within the office and automates the adjusting temperature and lighting resulting in conserving energy.
So, with the new hybrid work model being implemented by most organizations these days, workforce expectations have increased. The employees expect to work in smart and connected workspaces that enable them to control the environment as per their specifications, collaborate with their team members conveniently, and stay safe and hygienic as workspaces are used more flexibly.
Smarter connectivities using IoT can transform workplaces by improving efficiency and productivity and creating an environment that leverages improved collaboration. The purpose of IoT has always been to improve our lifestyles, and now when countries are heading towards building smart cities with the help of this technology, why should the workplace stay obsolete. The quality of workspaces plays a major role in workforce management and development and thus cannot be ignored. Thus, as the future of the business world becomes highly digital, organizations that implement IoT solutions can possibly gain an edge over their competitors.
As per a recent report, the number of connected IoT devices globally is likely to increase from 12.3 billion in 2021 to 27 billion in 2025, which is a whopping rise of 22%.
It is an inevitable fact that IoT is revolutionizing workplace environments across the globe. An IoT-connected workforce can make operations more efficient, reduce unnecessary costs, optimize resources, and mitigate future risks. Thus, the future of IoT in the business world is bright, and this technology is here to stay as it is growing by leaps and bounds in terms of usage in almost all types of industry verticals and consumer markets.
With employees overwhelmed with handling information, making decisions, and managing so many tasks, IoT is here to introduce intelligent workflows that help them overcome all the challenges and deliver the best performance. IoT technology has transformed everything from automating schedules and triggering notifications to providing 360-degree visibility over productivity and control over processes from start to finish.
Workstations will get better connected; Internet will get faster; digital experiences will go up; devices will have better connectivity with other applications; workforce management and productivity will go up – with just IoT.
A meticulously chosen IoT-based workforce management system can deliver the accuracy and flexibility a company requires to move towards its success. Integrating IoT into the workforce management system has helped companies save energy, keep workplaces safe, and attract new talents, which ultimately helps them expand their reach globally and scale exponentially in terms of revenue generation.
If you also want to optimize your workforce management processes leaving behind obsolete methods and tools, just go through this intricately curated list of IoT-enabled employee engagement software and select the one that matches your business requirements.
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