Wireless Sensor Networks are typically used for collecting data on environmental, industrial or building systems. However, it’s now becoming useful to implement a wireless sensor network for social network monitoring in the workplace.
Employees at nearly every large office have a badge not only for security and identification, but also for access to shared office spaces, lobby entrances and restrooms. Most of these badges use near field communication (NFC) technology, but more often these are being built with RFID or other wireless technology.
Companies that are gathering information will also issue a separate badge specifically for tracking purposes so that employees are able to opt-in / opt-out of the program. And just to make sure no-one feels excluded, they will also provide dummy badges that are identical except they do not have an embedded tracking device.
See Related Article – Near Field Communications
Companies are experimenting with tracking where employees spend their time in the office, how they interact with each other and which areas of the office are most used at which times. Studies are showing that employees that spend more time engaging with others are more likely to be collaborative in the work efforts, better at team based projects and generally more productive overall then their colleagues who spend most of their time working solo. Think of it as Big Data for the office personnel.
And this tends to run counter-intuitive to the telecommuting model where someone working in isolation, without the distractions of the office, would do more for the company. Maybe that’s why Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Best Buy’s Hubert Joly are now bringing everyone back to the corporate campus from the home office.
It’s not just the people that companies are tracking. Some have installed sensors in the conference rooms, lunch areas, chairs, desks and other furniture to monitor how these are being used. The results can generate significant savings in overhead costs, especially in high price real estate offices.
For example, consumer goods manufacturer Kimberly-Clark was able to determine that conference rooms built to hold large meetings were often occupied by just a few individuals. To solve complaints of insufficient conference room space, rather that building more facilities they were able to partition large under utilized rooms into smaller ones. Companies have also found that some chairs are preferred over others, and that these are moved to conference rooms or from offices. This data gives them information on what to buy when building new offices or refurnishing existing ones.
A sensor network that tracks the social network of employees, and even furniture, can be a productivity indicator and an excellent data source for cost savings measures.
(Photo Credit – AwarePoint)
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