Office life has changed over the years, but nothing like we have seen in the wake of the pandemic.  Many companies were forced to move their team at home, even in jobs that were once thought of as impossible to do remote.  This means that companies are looking to rethink how they do their offices, often moving them from being places of day-to-day work to becoming areas that maximize employee creativity and productivity.   


IoT solutions are being used today to allow companies to do more with less, when it comes to the office.  They are able to better maximize their space, lower their heating and cooling costs, improve productivity by improving the work environment and make them safer.  When you combine the in-office applications of IoT with the ability to work effectively while remote (see “Mobile Office for more details), it makes sense that all offices will soon be “smart” offices. 

3 Benefits of a Smart Office

In the next parts, we will go over how IoT can help different types of offices in greater detail.  However, there are some gains that can happen in any office environment, regardless of what industry a company is in or the size of the company.  As well, these solutions are available to suit businesses with a variety of technical capability and resources. 

Smart HVAC Systems

Many companies are doing what they can to “go green.”  While it makes sense from a Marketing standpoint, it also impacts the bottom line of an organization.  Smart HVAC systems allow an organization to reduce their utility demand, which can be done whether the company owns the facility or not.  By not cooling areas that are vacant in the summer, as an example, a company may reduce their on-going costs and extend the life of their HVAC equipment.  Along the same lines, temperature sensors are ideal for ensuring that your team, your customers or any other occupant is comfortable while at your location. 

Building and Area Security

Based on the industry that a company is in, there are varying requirements for building and area security.  However, all businesses have a duty to do what they can to keep their team and any visitors safe.  An obvious way is to implement smart access control systems that can minimize the chance of an unwanted person entering your facility.  However, it is often non-human items that can cause the most harm in the workplace.  Sensors alert to environmental conditions, ranging from excessive heat/cold, to the presence of a toxin to a vibration sensor alarming to the first signs of an earthquake.  By providing people with the most accurate information, they can make decisions that keep everyone safe. 

Increased Productivity

While this may mean different things to each company, IoT solutions help to maximize the productivity of all businesses.  For some, it may mean keeping certain work environments within a range that encourages maximum productivity, while others may wish to be able to do work in a particular area and be alerted when a customer arrives.  Finally, others may wish to use sensors to alert those key areas are being used, such as dust-sensitive applications or moving of large equipment, which helps to keep work moving and prevent unwanted access. 

Small businesses can capitalize on sensor technology to do more with fewer resources. It can keep SMBs connected during crisis, provide access to pay-as-you-go cloud services all in a secure and easy manner.

Failover and Redundancy 

For many years, having a backup connection to your main Internet line at an office was a luxury that most businesses neither needed nor could financially justify.  Times certainly have changed.  Most businesses have moved many of their key services and data to cloud-based applications and the vast majority of financial transactions involve Internet access.  This includes processing of credit cards in retail stores, but also electronic transfers and even the acceptance of cryptocurrency. 


This means that virtually all companies can no longer function without a steady, reliable and secure method to access the Internet.  Today’s failover solutions are ideal for any business, as they are both inexpensive and require very little technical expertise to set up.  The cellular-enabled router will use the Internet feed from your landline provider and will allow access to the Internet for all of your needs.  In the event that the main line is not available, the device will automatically route all traffic (of which you can pick and choose what to allow) across the cellular network seamlessly.  When your main landline becomes available again, the router will seamlessly switch back to using it. 

Allows continual access to cloud-based services 

As mentioned earlier, most business applications have begun their journey to being hosted and access from the cloud.  This includes most data processing and spreadsheet applications, financial and accounting services and often inventory and ordering management.  The flexibility of being able to access your required data from anywhere securely is helping to improve how business are run every day.  However, it does mean that without access to the Internet, most of your business comes to a halt. 


When you factor in that many companies now are allowing workers to work remotely or from home, this further adds to the need for a reliable connection.  Many businesses, even after the pandemic, will continue to use online video services and social media to communicate with both remote team members and their customers, so a redundant solution is now no longer a luxury. 

Meets or exceeds industry standards for security 

Many businesses have security requirements that they must meet when it comes to the area of Internet-based activity.  Any retailer accepting credit cards has financial requirements, all medical offices must meet HIPPA and other standards while others may require a certain level of security to fulfill their work with the government.  This may include ways to limit access to your router, it may include certain levels of data encryption and it may also include having the latest security patches installed on all devices. 


Cellular data routers are used in some of the most security sensitive applications on earth and meet or exceed all of the requirements.  They allow for reduced access/ability to make changes to the device and support the latest in data encryption standards.  They also offer an easy way to upgrade all of the devices remotely using the same terminal, regardless of what country or cellular carrier they are in/on.  This gives them an advantage over many traditional landline services in this manner. 


Expanding to new locations has never been easier with recent developments in IoT and cellular connectivity.

Quick setup avoids any delays at new locations 

In many cases, the availability of a landline to be installed at a remote branch can cause the delay in the opening.  It is not unheard of for it to take 6-8 weeks for an installation to be done in some regions.  On top of that, there is often a significant installation and removal fee, making landlines a costly venture for many remote locations, especially ones that may not be permanent.  However, for decades, this was the only choice for effective, fast and secure Internet access. 


The emergence of 4G, and now 5G networks has made the use of cellular routers not only viable, but usually preferred to the installation of landline services.  Unlike landlines, the connectivity to the cellular network can be done remotely and the device can be easily installed at the location in working order.  As connectivity can be turned on quickly, the lead time has shrunk from weeks to hours, even minutes

No need to deal with more than one setup 

Landline based connections, while readily available, are not always available from the same provider, even in the same country.  This means that for a national deployment, IT teams often had to arrange contracts/interact with multiple carriers in the same country.  This issue becomes multiplied as companies look to expand to new countries.  Using cellular connectivity can often simplify your deployments. 


As you are able to use the same brand/model of cellular router anywhere in the world, your team can standardize quite easily, making hardware support much less costly.  In terms of the cellular connectivity, many carriers support “One SIM” technology, allowing for devices to be easily deployed in any country after being set up by your team at your office. 

Ideal for franchisees 

While franchises are considered to be independent businesses, many corporate entities look to standardize the technology that is used at each of their locations.  This helps to reduce costs for support, make it easier to deploy new locations and allows for easier compliance to any government or industry standards.  Two issues that they often run into are the availability of different landline services in each location and the technical knowledge of the franchise owners when it comes to communications.  The use of cellular routers helps to solve those issues. 


As mentioned, cellular devices can be set up at your main office by your team and tested prior to being sent out to the franchise owner.  Once received, the owner can set up the devices by simply plugging in the power cord and attaching the antenna.  Once installed, your IT team can view the status of the devices, making any required changes to the device to ensure compliance.  This allows for a greater level of uptime for your franchises and allows your team to capture additional revenue for this service. 

Popups and other temporary locations are quickly becoming popular in North America. Businesses can capitalize on trends without major investment in a retail location.

Easy setup that can be done by just about anyone 

Traditionally, the setting up of communication equipment either involved the dispatching of an expensive IT resource or it may have been left to a remote team member who was not fully qualified.  Using cellular based communication allows for easy setup to be done.  This is especially valuable in the case of a mobile work sites, such as concert tours, athletic races and more.  The device simply needs to be packaged up in the container with the rest of the equipment. 


Once on-site, the team member simply needs to find a power source for the device to power it up, and then to attach the cellular antennas.  If they run into an issue, the device can be managed over the air by one of your IT teams from anywhere, allowing for quick support.  Your IT team can even be notified if the device were to have issues, enabling quick repairs that may prevent unwanted downtime. 


Ideal for seasonal business 

Many businesses operate on a seasonal basis, but still require the same level of Internet reliability and security as if they were in the office.  This is true for cottage/resort operators, golf courses, landscaping companies and more.  In some cases, traditional landline services may not be an option at all.  These businesses have long discovered that the use of cellular routers allows them to get access to what they need, when they need it. 


As devices can be set up in minutes, operators are able to get quick connectivity right away.  It also allows them to be flexible where they place the device, to ensure a stronger signal.  In the event that the site is remote and has issues with cellular signal, there are plenty of easy-to-use cellular enhancement solutions to get the job done.  Finally, in many cases, cellular providers allow for devices to be suspended for a low monthly cost when not in use, ensuring that these solutions are more cost effective than a landline solution. 

Cellular as primary connection

Whether it be a booth at a retail store, a stand at a flea market or a construction site, many companies are not able to use landlines as they are either not available from the building owner, not yet available or the owner does not wish to share connectivity for security reasons.  To solve this, most work done at 3rd party locations now uses cellular routers for connectivity. 


The setup, as discussed, can be up easily, allowing for quick setup and take down.  As it meets all security requirements, financial payments and transactions can be securely done over cellular.  Finally, the additional speed offered by 4G and 5G networks often means little, if any, drop in connection speed when compared to landline connections that may be available.  

IoT and cloud technology are helping restaurants serve customers on their terms while on their smartphones. In addition cellular connectivity is providing failover to avoid business interruption.

Point of sale backup or primary internet connection 

In an age when few customers carry a significant amount of cash with them, there is an expectation from customers that they should be able to pay using credit or debit cards at all times.  This means that retailers and restaurant operators no longer have a choice but to ensure that their Internet connection is readily available.  Most are doing this through the use of a cellular router to either provide a redundant connection to the Internet or to use as a primary method. 


To start, the main reason for this is revenue protection, namely that customers may choose not to buy from your location if they cannot use the payment method of choice.  However, there is also a strong customer service angle to the reasoning.  If your connection were to become unavailable after a customer has started dinner, as an example, they would be put in a very awkward position if they are not able to cover the cost of their meal using cash.  This makes it imperative that you have a backup Internet solution. 

Easy to take mobile orders 

During the pandemic, many companies were forced to move to a curb-side pickup model for their businesses.  In many cases, your customer was able to place an order online and not have to go into the store/restaurant.  As most of these services were done using a cloud-based application, many will perform the transaction online and then notify the retailer/restaurant.  If the location did not have Internet access, this could pose a problem.  This is often the case with large chains who use a centralized system. 


This would potentially be a large customer service issue, as the customer would arrive at your location expecting their order to be ready.  By ensuring that your Internet connection is backed up by a cellular router, you can avoid this situation. 

Solutions that grow with your business 

Most businesses may start out small but have aspirations to become much larger. One of the concerns that an owner may have when buying a solution or platform is if they will be able to keep on using it as they grow.  One of the last things that an owner wants to do is to have to scrap a previous investment of time and money to move to a new offering.  As cellular connections are used by companies of all sizes, this is not an issue. 


Most device management platforms for cellular routers are cloud-based and can handle thousands (or more) of devices with no issues or upgrades required.  The same would hold true to any cellular connectivity management service offered by the cellular carriers, as they are used by some of the largest organizations on the planet.  Finally, most IoT applications, such as sensor-based monitoring or vehicle tracking, use large platforms from companies such as Microsoft and Amazon and can be scaled as large as needed very quickly and easily. 

There is constant pressure on governments to deliver more services with no extra money. Sensor technology is allowing them deliver more services securely which benefits us all.

Meets complicated security standards 

Due to the nature of the data that they are involved with, government-based offices often have higher security requirements when compared to most businesses.  Whether the data is involved with public safety, the protection of personal data or any health-based records, any entity dealing with the government is required to meet or exceed certain standards.  This may involve securing the device against unwanted local access, involving the use of certain levels of passwords or the ability to use the latest level of data encryption. 


Cellular routers have been used by law enforcement agencies, National defence departments and healthcare providers for years.  These devices are not only able to meet the security requirements themselves, but cellular data networks have been extensively tested to ensure that the over the air portion of the data transfer is equally secure. 

Disaster recovery plan 

For some businesses, in the event of an evacuation, they would simply put up a sign saying they were closed and go home.  For many government agencies, this is simply not an option.  Most vital groups have a disaster recovery plan, in the event that they are no longer able to work at their location.  It may involve working at location that remains empty when not in use or it may mean providing pre-approved equipment to your team to work from home safety and securely. 


During the pandemic, many government workers who had previously not been able to work remotely were forced to do so.  This meant that disaster recovery plans were forced to be put in place.  Unfortunately, many organizations were forced to scramble as they had never contemplated such a scenario.  Luckily, IT teams were able to quickly deploy cellular routers that allowed these key staff to access secure data without issues. 

Ideal for mobile command posts 

Government work often does not take place in the comfort of a warm office or during normal business hours.  In many cases, many key workers need to respond to disasters, whether it be a plane crash, an act of terrorism or a large weather event.  These teams need to first get onsite quickly and then to have access to all key information as soon as possible to do their jobs.  Cellular and satellite-based Internet access can be set up in minutes, often from the comfort of a helicopter! 


Many agencies use a command post vehicle, such as a large bus that has all of the required hardware inside.  One of the pieces of key hardware are cellular routers which can be activated in seconds to start connectivity.  In some cases, a quick Internet network is required around the perimeter of site.  One of the great inventions is the use of rugged access points that can be dropped from a helicopter.  They use battery powered connection to instantly form a secure and reliable local network, one that uses the cellular or satellite network to access the Internet. 

IoT and cellular connectivity has literally created the mobile business. Here are some examples.

Ideal for Mobile retails and restaurants 

Increasingly, businesses are moving out to where their customers are.  One great example is the explosion in popularity of food trucks.  These businesses are using social media to alert their followers as to where they will be at a certain location, which ensures a strong demand for their business.  However, customers are now looking to not only get great food from the truck but be able to pay for their purchase using a debit or credit card.  These businesses recognize this and have been long-time users of cellular routers. 


These devices provide a reliable and secure method for the truck to process all of the transactions, as well as to place orders for supplies.  They are also rugged enough to handle this tough environment, such as the excessive heat from the stoves, the cold weather during off hours in the winter and the bumps from potholes on the drive.  This same technology would also apply to any other vehicle-based business. 

Flexible work methods and working from home

During the pandemic, many workers discovered they enjoyed the flexibility that being able to work remote brought them.  They were able to go for walks, perform different errands and work in the evening when they felt more inspired.  While many workers either must return to the office or may opt to, many workers are looking to move towards either working from home permanently or more of a flexible schedule. 


The wide availability of cellular-enabled devices allows for work to be done using several different platforms.  Many will do quick lookups and communication via their smartphone, while others may opt to use a tablet for slightly more intensive work.  There is also still the option of using a laptop for work that requires more computing power.  All of these devices now are available with embedded cellular connectivity, which means that your team does not have to look for a Wi-Fi connection. 

Prevents unwanted use of home/coffee shop Wi-Fi 

Many business owners will look at the cost of a cellular connection and instead opt to have their remote team members access the Internet via their home Wi-Fi network or to use one at a coffee shop or mall.  However, doing this means that they may be opening themselves up to different issues, many of which will cost significantly more than the monthly cellular data bill ever could. 


Most home-based networks do not have the highest level of security enabled.  While you may choose to have your employee’s data transactions secured by a VPN, their devices may be easier to access across the network.  As well, having your team member only use cellular data allows you to better restrict what is accessed on a work machine, lowering down your chances of viruses.  This same logic will hold true for any public network, many of which may in fact be fake networks hosted by criminals.