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Using IoT technology to help businesses thrive in a pandemic world

When the world seemingly shut down in March 2020, thousands of workers shifted to a remote set up to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While many businesses and employees thought it would only last a few months, flash forward to today, and working from home is now the new normal for many workers.

Prior to the start of the pandemic, only 17% of U.S. employees worked from home five days or more per week, according to a Clutch survey. That number jumped to 44% between March and April and is possibly even greater now. In that time, overall electricity consumption significantly dropped among businesses, while household energy use has surged. Interestingly, overall energy use in New York City declined by 15%, according to New York Independent System Operator. The drop is likely attributed to the fact that commercial buildings use far more lighting per square foot than apartment buildings or personal homes.

The future of the office is uncertain, but what’s clear is there are ways businesses and employees can turn to technology to curb costs associated with property management – whether that property is a traditional office building or someone’s home office at their residence.

Connected products that give building and homeowners visibility into energy usage became more commonplace before the pandemic and have increased in demand as energy conservation became even more sought after. Long-range, low-power IoT solutions that have indoor and outdoor tracking capabilities like LoRa and the LoRaWAN protocol offer this level of connectivity to help facility managers and residents track utility usage in real-time.

Let’s explore some examples.

Smart and cost-effective water management

The average American spends roughly $70.39 per month on water alone, making it one of the costliest items on the utility bill. Between sprinklers, dishwashers, showers and sinks there is a lot to keep track of when trying to monitor your water usage.

Using low-power, long-range IoT solutions makes it easy and affordable to manage home water usage and even guard against water or moisture damage. Sensors share measurements in real-time through the cloud and if an issue is detected, automatically shut off the water supply and alert residents or facility managers. Additionally, these sensors can also offer important insights into the property’s water usage to help home and office managers develop a plan for smarter, more efficient water consumption.

Reducing energy consumption

With so many employees working from home, there is a stronger need for them to pay closer attention to their energy usage. Products that ensure the most efficient use of electricity or heat can help. Smart thermostats can regulate indoor temperatures according to preset preferences to ensure the home or apartment is not subject to fluctuating temperatures and is comfortable for its inhabitants. Likewise, smart outlets have the ability to­­ remotely control lights, water heaters, humidifiers and anything with a plug, allowing residents to turn them on and off with their mobile phone. Having a streamlined way to manage electricity sources all in one place makes it easier for busy employees working from home to stay on top of their energy consumption and identify their problem areas to modify their energy usage and save.

Using office spaces more efficiently to ensure safety

For employers looking to bring their workers back to the office, sensors can monitor office occupancy by detecting how many people are in each room to ensure that those numbers abide by CDC guidelines. These solutions are also able to monitor how many seats are occupied around a meeting room table and measure CO2, noise, temperature, humidity and light levels, notifying office users of extremes. For example, if the number of occupants in an office is too high, these sensors can alert the office users so that they know they need to reduce the number of people in the space. These sensors make it easier to keep employees safe and healthy when returning to work.

Whether employers look to bring their workers back into the office or continue to have them work remotely, IoT devices are essential for keeping costs and energy usage down. The pandemic has resulted in devastating financial losses for businesses all over the nation, making it essential for companies to have the proper tools and systems in place to cut costs wherever they can to recover. The best part is these sensors are economical and easy to implement whether in an office building or one’s personal home, making it the ideal choice for both scenarios.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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