The New Year should be a time of hope for business, but too often creates challenges both new and familiar. Winter will bring freezing temperatures, which will make heating the UK’s predominantly old and inefficient building stock very expensive. To illustrate, a record 143 billion cubic feet of gas was consumed in the US in early January, pushing prices up four per cent in a matter of days.
What’s more, absenteeism, which costs businesses £29 billion each year, can grow into a persistent problem when it’s cold. Sickly staff, struggling through a cold or flu, are less happy, less productive and less innovative. Decision-making is impacted and profits can slip.
However, businesses are determined not to let this put a dampener on 2018. They have woken up to the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) and greater connectivity in their real-estate. Enterprises are embracing smart building technology to grow profits all year round.
The Smart Working Report, Schneider Electric’s latest collaboration with Unwork, reveals that smart living is no longer restricted to the home. The Internet of Things (IoT) is taking the workplace by storm, with global spending on smart buildings projected to reach £14.4 billion by 2019.
With the right technology, buildings are no longer simply a cost of doing business. They are a corporate asset that boosts staff engagement, productivity and innovation, with increased comfort and energy efficiency.
IoT-connected hardware, and the integration of building software and systems facilitates the easy exchange of valuable data. From this, building and facility managers can gain actionable insight and use the data to drive decisions that improve efficiency and productivity.
Furthermore, smart buildings can improve efficiency through automation by detecting and resolving wasteful processes. For example, the chillers and compressors buildings use to provide cool air will often operate even on cold days, wasting energy and driving up costs. A unified, connected building management system (BMS) will detect this immediately and power down the equipment.
The technology is also improving health and wellbeing among employees. Embedded sensors can monitor temperature and CO2 levels throughout the premises. This allows the BMS to automatically regulate the heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems to ensure optimal air quality and the most comfortable conditions for occupants.
The use of building apps, operated via the building’s management software, will also enhance working conditions and output. From their smartphones, users can order food and beverages, find working spaces, reserve meeting rooms and even locate individual colleagues when they need them.
When working together, not only do these systems reduce energy waste and costs, they create healthy, efficient staff and enable them to do their best work possible.
By making the most of connected technologies in 2018, businesses can maximise the comfort, efficiency and productivity of their workspaces. This, we believe, is the most valuable New Year’s resolution a business can make.
By Thomas Belaïsch, Vice President Partner Retail UK & Ireland, Schneider Electric