Automation in the workplace: The IoT meets practicality

10 March 2017

3 min read

Automation is no longer something reserved to a factory assembly line. We explore how automation can bring real benefit to any office.

Automation in the workplace: The IoT meets practicality (Desktop)

Remember the days when you had to leave the house to check your bank balance and your hoover had to be pushed by hand? While one of those brings back fond memories, it’s safe to assume that no one would trade their Dyson for an older model.

Modern automation has ushered in a new era of efficiency. Rather than wasting precious time and effort on simple office tasks—many of which don’t directly contribute to business success—what if we could automate them and focus our energy on more productive objectives?

What’s more, research from McKinsey shows that as much as 45% of jobs could be automated, and a further 60% of jobs could see 30% of their remit automated.

It's time to eliminate the time-wasters

Humans are generally very good at a select few things, decent at a few others, and passable at pretty much everything else. As such, it makes sense to apply the bulk of our attention toward those tasks at which we excel. From a productivity standpoint, this kind of “specialisation” enables employees to do what they do best, and with fewer distractions to boot.

For example, consider how much time elapsed between the moment you walked into the office this morning and when you actually began working. Between making coffee, warming up the printers, turning on lights, and logging on to various accounts, it’s safe to say that automating some of these tasks would have saved a significant amount of time. The Internet of Things (IoT) is exploding for this very reason.

You’ve no doubt heard the thirty second sales pitch on how the IoT will revolutionise everything from heating your home to working from home but there’s more to it than that.

Imagine a world in which you simply stroll into your office, place your phone on the desk (or even wave your hand), and your environment immediately springs to life. The kettle begins to boil, the lights adjust to your perfect level, and your computer logs you on with a selection of the day’s most important news and events.

With continued innovation in today’s wireless technology, this level of automation may not be such a pipe dream. It’s predicted that there will be 20-30bn connected units.

Automation gets practical

While it’s easy to get lost daydreaming about an automated lifestyle straight out of the Jetson’s, automation has real and practical benefits. To appreciate the possibilities, let’s start small with the simple distractions throughout the day that can be quickly alleviated.

First up is the dreaded print queue. There aren’t many situations more frustrating—and time wasting—in the workplace than sending single-page document to the printer, only to find a full-blown publishing operation holding up the queue. Instead of wasting time waiting for your office mate’s book to finish printing, a dash of automation could clear up the whole mess. Printers that hold jobs in a cloud-based queue until you physically authenticate not only provide a more intelligent operation, but also improve security of printing sensitive information.

And it could also fix another important part of the day: coffee. Instead of twiddling your thumbs while the coffee machine does its thing, why not use your smartphone to initiate the brew? All that’s needed then is to walk to the break room to retrieve it.

Finally, let’s address those unusually warm winter days or uncommonly cold summer mornings. You may have dressed the part, but your thermostat is totally unaware of the heat wave and your office feels ten degrees warmer it should do. It’s hard to get work done with sweat beading on your brows (or when you’re shivering in the depths of July). With the help of a smart thermostat, your office will know about sudden temperature charges ahead of time. The ambient air can be adjusted automatically to suit the day’s weather and your wardrobe. This saves money from an energy perspective as well as from a productivity standpoint.

Automation in the office boils down to connecting everyday devices to the network for more streamlined management and intelligent use. The result? A more efficient environment with fewer distractions.

You can bring automation to your workplace by checking out Managed Print Services from HP.