Smart homes with self-locking doors, voice-controlled dishwashers, and refrigerators that tell you when you need to go shopping are old news by now.
You may well have some ‘smart’ features in your own home.
Is your office as smart as your home, though? As your business makes the transition back to in-person working, here are some ways to make your work environment ‘smarter’—a safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable place to be.
A smart thermostat
As winter approaches, you and your coworkers will want to ensure that the heating is on when there are people working in the office.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many workplaces are operating on flexible hours, with employees working partly in the office and partly from home. Add in the possibility of a last-minute lockdown, and you’ll have a nightmare of a time trying to set the thermostat correctly.
Enter the smart thermostat: a new type of heating system that can be controlled remotely via a smartphone. Some smart thermostats can even adjust the temperature automatically depending on the weather!
Choosing to install a smart thermostat is likely to help you save money, energy, and headaches—no more wasting resources on heating up an empty office because of last-minute changes to the schedule!
A smart doorbell
This one is also particularly important in light of the trend towards hybrid, flexible working which leaves workplaces empty for longer periods of time than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
While many statistics show that most non-violent crimes have been decreasing in numbers since the start of the pandemic,
some types of retail establishments—such as bike shops—have reported higher numbers of break-ins since March 2020, presumably due to the fact that during the lockdown, the stores were left empty and unguarded.
If you are worried about the possibility of someone breaking into your store or office, a smart doorbell might be just the thing for you.
Smart doorbells have video cameras that can both Livestream and record what is going on at the door and allow you to talk to the person on your doorstep via your smartphone, wherever you are.
Some models even feature an additional piece of software that allows them to recognize the difference between the shape of a person and the shape of something else and alert you when someone is at your door but doesn’t ring the doorbell.
As well as helping you prevent break-ins, a smart doorbell would be a very useful way to speak to those delivering parcels to your place of work when you’re not there, ensuring that your deliveries end up exactly where you want them to.
A smart speaker
You probably already know all about smart speakers, the handy ever-listening devices that answer all your questions and allow you to text friends, order pizza, and set timers without lifting a finger.
Smart speakers are so popular that the name Alexa—the command used to engage Amazon’s EchoDot smart speakers—has now become synonymous with ‘servant’, according to several concerned parents of children named Alexa.
Until now, the use of smart speakers in businesses has been mainly limited to playing music or checking the occasional piece of information.
However, this kind of usage is only scratching the surface of the range of useful tasks that a smart speaker could perform for your business,
such as reminding employees of upcoming appointments, tracking the progress of your employees’ tasks, managing inventories, or organizing travel itineraries. Smart speakers could also be a useful way of keeping your team connected to each other regardless of whether they are working from the office or from home.
With voice commands becoming easier and more reliable, a smart speaker might be the perfect productivity-boosting gadget to spend your Kohls coupons on.
A smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarm
When you are a business owner, there are few things more terrifying than the prospect of your store or office building going up in flames while you, blissfully unaware of what’s happening, are enjoying your downtime in another part of town.
With a smart smoke alarm, you will never have to face this fear again. Smart smoke detectors will alert you via an app on your smartphone if smoke has been detected in your building, and some models will even do the same for carbon monoxide releases.
If the device is battery-powered, it will also alert you when the batteries are running low, although you can buy mains-powered models too.
A smart plug
The great thing about smart plugs is that they will turn many of your regular gadgets into ‘smart’ ones. Plug your office coffee machine into a smart plug, for example, and you can tell the plug to turn itself—and therefore, the coffee maker—on just at the time when you normally get into the office.
If you’re going to be delayed because of traffic, no worries—just open the relevant app on your phone and change the scheduled switch-on time. Smart plugs are also an excellent way to save energy and money, as you can program them to turn themselves off after a certain amount of time.
Therefore, if you know that your phone’s battery takes around an hour to reach full charge, you can tell your smart plug to turn itself off after that amount of time. This will also help keep your electronics in good health!