The importance of a functional, productivity-boosting and people-friendly office environment is enormous. It can drastically impact our efficiency, the way we work, communicate, and even our sense of belonging.
But what makes an office great?
When thinking about a „dream office“, what usually comes to mind is a big kitchen, a game room or a living room area for relaxation, but what actually makes an office great? It's usually the little thing that makes the biggest difference. Something as simple as good lighting, comfortable chairs and proper air conditioning can make or break the experience your employees are having during the time spent at the office.
In Devōt, we are dedicated to being productive and innovative, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun while working.
When decorating our office, the first thing we wanted was to utilize innovative solutions that will ensure better productivity while making our office people-friendly and fun. In the end – satisfied, relaxed employees are proven to be more productive on day-to-day basis. Therefore, in order to strive even more to that win-win situation, we ensure our people have the best equipment. Big tables that ensure personal space, top notch chairs for elevated comfort, two high end monitors to relief the burden from the eyes and overall great equipment. That whole set we like to call Devōt starter-pack.
Combining business with pleasure – where innovation meets fun
As a company, we are firmly focused on being productive, which allows us to deliver our services faster and pushes us in the direction of automation and innovation.
We never underestimate having fun at work because it creates a more positive mindset, brings employees closer together and boost productivity to a whole new level. So how we brought fun to our everyday office environment? We decided to combine business with pleasure and experiment with Amazon Alexa voice processing while trying out Zigbee protocol for Internet Of Thing devices. It was a perfect project to have fun and do something great for the office simultaneously.
How we did it?
There is a well known wireless protocol called Zigbee, developed for home automation and Internet of things (IoT) devices. We wanted to combine it with voice controls, and between all of the voice control assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri etc, we decided to go with Alexa.
All of those assistants are programmed to follow custom commands and perform various tasks, but Amazon Alexa offers “Echo Plus 2nd generation” device, which has a build-in Zigbee hub (controller). That feature allowed us to pair Echo Plus with IoT devices in our office via Zigbee and program Alexa to control IoT devices in the office on our command.
Important meeting or after-work party? Just say the word
How does that look like in our everyday office life? Let us paint you a picture.
Saying “Alexa, good morning” when entering the office, turns on all of the lights and raises window blinds. On the same note, saying „Alexa, goodbye“ when leaving gives your current weather report so you can prepare for heat, rain or snow, dims the lights to 20%, lowers window blinds and after set amount of minutes turnes the lights off completely and turns on the alarm.
What are some other nifty features we included?
Fraze “Alexa, I’m having a presentation” lowers window blinds and dims lights in the presentation room to 10%, to create perfect conditions for giving a presentation. And could it be a great office without occasional office parties? We don't think so – that's why we have one more command: “Alexa, party time!”
By dimming all of the lights in the office and changing the colours of RGB lights into different colours, the atmosphere is already set up, and the party can begin with one last feature: the music starts playing.
What can we add next?
When it comes to office space automation, the possibilities are truly endless. One of the functionalities we want to add is integrating Zigbee enabled lux-sensor, which detects sunlight hitting the wall and automatically lowers the window blinds.
Besides that, we are looking to automate air-conditioning and heating based on temperature detection, as well as office door locking/ unlocking via Slack with authorization and logging.
We are required by law to log in working hours for every employee entering the office – so instead of manually „clocking-in“ or using cards, we want to create an optional solution for our employees that could, for example, start the clock when employee's mobile phone connects to the office WIFI and stop it when the phone disconnects. Also, Alexa could remind us when it's time to water the office plants or when our food delivery is near, as well as many other things… Of course, only our imagination is the limit.
This office automation process gave us a lot of experience with voice processing commands, but even more important – with IoT devices and the limitations of building a wireless-based home automation project.
What have we learned?
Although each of the IoT devices works great on its own, after adding over ten devices, problems with connection started to occur. For example – some of the lights would change colour on command, but not all of them. It might be because Zigbee works on the same frequency as WiFi (2.4ghz), so we still need to play around some more in order to find ways and overcome this problem. In conclusion, Zigbee is great, but we recommend a KNX solution that controls IoT devices via physical wire for this type of project, especially if you want to build anything more complex than a few lightbulbs changing colour. 😊
We had a lot of fun discovering how to make our office fun, but with affordable solutions. Yet, the fun was not the only goal. We wanted to optimize and automation of boring tasks. Hope you will dare to leap in the same direction and come up with your own solutions that will make your everyday tasks easier.