The Internet of (Workplace) Things

Last week I had the honor of presenting the keynote at the Texas Association of Business’ Symposium on Employment Relations. My topic: the Internet of Things (IoT) in the workplace. My audience: more than 250 human resource and employee relations professionals with some of the country’s largest employers. Here are two of the takeaways that I shared with them:

1. The Internet of Things is a “today” movement, not something for the workplaces of “tomorrow.” ‘Exhibit A’ for IoT in today’s workplaces is the amazing example of what’s going on in Kissimmee, Florida at the Florida Hospital Celebration Health.

celebration health
Using the IoT, Celebration Health hospital can “predict through data analysis when a nurse is about to burn themselves out and intervene with coaching, [thus] reducing turn over.”
The hospital has badged nurses and patients, using RTLS (real time location services) to develop data on workplace behavior, workflow, resource allocation and employee workload. The IoT connected badges created an incredible amount of real-time data, which after analysis allowed the hospital to update, revise and change its policies and requirements with its staff. The end result of this IoT in the workplace application? Happier, more efficient nurses, better patient care and a better patient experience. Check out this article in Forbes Magazine by Robert Vamosi for more details.

2. Wearables will figure prominently in the IoT-empowered workplace. To address the problem of exhausted and overworked employees, consider IoT sweat-monitoring devices now in development. “A new sensor developed at the Nanoelectronic Devices Laboratory (Nanolab) at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) could allow for a tiny adhesive electronic stamp attached to the arm, which can show one’s level of hydration, stress or fatigue…” (Source: ETHealthworld,com, “Soon, wearable device that assesses your health via sweat,” May 18, 2015).

sweat monitoring
IoT wearable sensors could detect calcium, sodium or potassium in a person’s sweat.

These devices will be able to provide real time actionable data concerning an employees health at the exact time that employee is performing his or her work. In strenuous environments (think factory floors, by way of example), and with this data being relayed real time to a monitoring employer’s supervisor, employees who are at risk for heat exhaustion or overexertion could be removed from their work until they recover, allowing the employee to avoid injury. Check out this great post by Michael Haberman entitled, “Future Friday: Monitoring employee well-being by testing their sweat,” for more observations on this IoT in the workplace technology.

In short, the Internet of Things is here now and is already altering and impacting our workplaces. How we dedicate, direct, lead and support employees is changing, and the IoT-empowered employer will take full advantage of these technologies to develop outstanding work environments, resulting in more powerful and valuable results for the customers they serve.

For a full look at all of the takeaways from my presentation to the TAB ER Symposium entitled, “The Internet of Things, Driving Change in the Workplace of Tomorrow,” check out my slides  at http://tinyurl.com/q2bg5do.

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