For a large percentage of us, a significant proportion of our waking hours is spent navigating inside workplace walls, essentially becoming a home away from home, or in some cases, more of a home than the place we hang our hats. With that in mind, an interesting dilemma always presents itself: how can employers make the workplace more enjoyable, productive, and overall conducive to their employees?
For any employer dedicated to the retention and global satisfaction of their employees, this has become a challenging issue. Some break down cubicle walls for a more open and collaborative work environment, engage in Friday team building excursions or lunches, or provide endless amounts of espresso and ping pong tournaments. The ways in which employers aim to facilitate meaningful work environments for their employees can be as unique as the people themselves, however, they all share the same fundamental goal: to keep their employees happy and engaged. The beauty is, iBeacon technology now presents a great opportunity for employers to enrich the workplace environment through the smartphones already buzzing in employee pockets.
In conjunction with a streamlined mobile development and Bluetooth proximity beacons strategically placed throughout the workplace, employers can now utilize their employee’s smartphones to facilitate meaningful new experiences while inside, creating rich dynamic ecosystems of interaction. Below I will outline just a few potential use cases of iBeacon for the enterprise.
With BLE beacons placed in entryways and other strategic locations throughout a building, employee arrival and presence within the enterprise can be tracked silently in the background, acting as a virtual check in. All employees present on any given day can then be displayed to all others also present, ready for relevant collaboration and communication. For instance, let’s say you are heading to Chili’s for lunch and want to know if anyone else would like to join. You can easily send a quick note to all others in the office without much effort. The beauty is, because the message is based on physical proximity, it only sends to those who are relevant, i.e. those actually in the office, not to those who may be out sick or on vacation. Beyond just a simple lunch invitation, this same channel of communication can be used in endless collaborative ways, such as summoning for assistance, sending a meeting request, or a company-wide event reminder, in addition to facilitating inter-department collaboration like never before.
For larger corporations that involved multiple floors and departments, beacons can be used to facilitate seamless indoor mapping for employees. Rather than have to memorize department locations and personnel placement, employees can look to their smartphones to navigate them directly to the person/place they need to go, saving valuable time for productivity.
Beacons placed in conference rooms and other meeting spaces can be used to track occupation in real time. As soon as an employee walks into a designated workspace, their presence can be noted signaling the area is currently being occupied. Along the same lines, employees can easily check if any workspaces are currently unoccupied, allowing them to proceed to the nearest available workspace for a meeting.
Unoccupied spaces and misuse by employees can be a drain on utilities if not properly managed. Using beacons, enterprise administrators can outline specific notifications such as a reminder to turn off conference room lights once an employee exits or a notification to the last employee to remember to turn of the AC as they leave for the day. Even just a small adjustment in employee behavior through reminders can serve to save significant amounts of energy use.
With today’s enterprise wellness programs largely centered on newsletters and opt in services announced intermittently, employee participation is often minimal, taking a sideline to other more immediate needs. Proximity beacon technology provides an opportunity to change that. For instance, your approach to the elevator could trigger a notification suggesting you take the stairs or the app could remind you to take a quick walk around the building after sitting stagnant for too long. The best part is, employers can gamify the experience making it fun for employees to compete against themselves and others for incentives.
For larger organizations that provide in building dining options such as a cafeteria, beacons can be used to send relevant specials, offers, and menus to employees as they walk nearby. For those without dining services, but other external dining options such as daily coffee carts, or food trucks, beacons can be used to send a notification to employees as soon as a vendor arrives on site as well as their location in real time.
Proximity aware technology can also serve to break down barriers to internal interactions, such as those between departments in which organic interactions might not normally occur. For instance, let’s say no one in your department likes yoga, but Sally in accounting is a Bikram enthusiast and has been looking for a buddy to join her after work. Through the workplace app you could discover Sally’s shared love for yoga, inviting her to your next session. By providing a medium of social interaction, employees can find out common interests or other things they may not otherwise know about others, contributing to a more enjoyable daily environment.
These are just a handful of cases in which iBeacon technology can be utilized to revolutionize the office experience for employees. The beauty is, our iBeacon Social Presence SDK now makes it even easier to implement the kinds of presence based features described above.