How smart home tech can save SMEs money

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A study of small businesses carried out in September last year, showed that a third are expecting no growth in 2018, as an uncertain economic climate is compounded by a lack of clarity over Britain’s Brexit deal. 

More than ever, small and micro businesses are under pressure to cut costs and make extra savings.   

We believe technology has a role to play as buying the right kind of kits can contribute to cutting out waste and saving on office running costs.   

Here are just a few examples:  A study of small businesses carried out in September last year, showed that a third are expecting no growth in 2018, as an uncertain economic climate is compounded by a lack of clarity over Britain’s Brexit deal. 

More than ever, small and micro businesses are under pressure to cut costs and make extra savings.   

We believe technology has a role to play as buying the right kind of kits can contribute to cutting out waste and saving on office running costs.   

Here are just a few examples: 

Use smart light-bulbs to cut energy costs 

Smart light-bulbs and lighting are most often associated with the home, but there is no reason why your small or micro business can’t benefit from them, too.   

Smart light-bulbs can last four times longer than “normal” ones. At the same time, you can cut energy use up to 80% without brightness or quality loss compared to a 60W incandescent bulb.   

Then there is the advantage of turning them on and off remotely via a smartphone app. Is there a day when only one or two of you are in the office? Switch off the lights when you go out to a meeting or go to lunch, and turn them back on remotely just before you go back. 

Have happier and more productive employees with smart lighting 

The control of lighting levels in an office space can actually play a vital role in an organisation’s working environment.   

In a large building full of SMEs the lighting often changes from room to room and where the natural light seeps in to some, but doesn’t to others. Thus, having control over the light for your office space is essential to optimise the lighting to fit each room.   

Previous studies have actually shown that having local control of lighting contributes to more job satisfaction in employees, higher productivity, better moods and a lower level of work stress. 

Be more energy efficient with smart plugs 

As well as smart lighting, consider investing in smart plugs, meaning there is a safety benefit as well), and they allow you to analyse a device’s real-time and historical power consumption. That way you can see when and which devices are draining energy and causing your utility bills to spike. Ideal for saving money and compatible with smart building facility devices and smart homes’ services like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, for SMEs that work from home, smart plugs allow any plugged-in devices to be controlled remotely via apps either using 3G or by setting timers directly through the app, meaning there is a safety benefit to smart plugs as well. They also allow you to analyse a device’s real-time and historical power consumption. That way you can see when and which devices are draining energy and causing your utility bills to spike.   

When paired with the KASA app, the HS110 Smart Plug facilitates a host of luxuries such as, arriving to a fresh pot of coffee when you come into the office. An added bonus is to set the HS110 Smart Plug to away mode so the lights come on and make the office appear occupied after the last employee has left the building. RRP £34.99. 

Use cloud cameras as a cost-effective way to keep your office safe 

If your budget doesn’t stretch to a remote monitored alarm system, think about installing cloud cameras in your workplace instead. 

Ideally, the cloud camera you buy should have motion and sound detection, that alerts you you when there is suspicious activity. That way you’ll be able to log in to the camera to see in real time if someone has broken into the premises, and whether you need to call the police out.   

Finally, make sure the cloud camera has night vision capabilities, as break-ins are more likely to occur when no one is in, and that is more likely to be at night. 

Get the most out of your broadband connection. 

Performance and functionality in routers can vary widely. As a bare minimum, your router should broadcast on the latest wireless standard, 802.11AC. The new standard enables faster data transfer speeds which means you can do more, faster. Other useful features to look out for include Quality of Service which enables you to prioritise different types of traffic over the network for example a Design Agency would give video preference over email.   

Another useful feature to consider is MU-MIMO sometimes called 2.5 GbE wave 2 which means the router can communicate with up to 4 separate wireless devices simultaneously for better device performance. A guest network is essential for any business welcoming guests, not only does it add an extra layer of security to the sensitive business information, it also ring fences bandwidth for employees. You might also want to consider routers that come with an app that make it easier to change settings on the fly. 

Before committing to an ISP upgrade, check if your router is artificially limiting performance.   

Investing in a third party router can squeeze more bandwidth out of your broadband subscription.  For a relatively modest upfront cost a new router will potentially increase wireless speeds and provide additional features like anti-virus cover for all the devices on your network or Smart Connect that automatically assigns devices to the best Wifi connection. These features could potentially reduce additional overheads in the medium to long-term - while at the same time increasing customer satisfaction and improving workplace productivity.   

Wireless Range Extenders blast through wireless black spots 

Do you have any Wifi dead zones in your office? Or perhaps you work from home and often move up and down between floors with your laptop? 

Wireless range extenders, sometimes referred to as repeaters, boost the existing wireless signal so that it reaches further. Available as desktop devices which include additional ethernet ports for wired only devices or plug in versions, choose a range extender that includes Wifi clone functionality for a seamless roaming experience. 

Another consideration is mesh technology, which relies on more than one unit working together to replace the router to create buffer-free Wifi in every room or on each floor. Together the units triangulate and work to cover a far larger area for SMEs, with an additional 1,500 square feet or so covered every time another device is added, so your range can be extended as your workforce and business space expands.   

Will Liu, UK and Ireland Country Manager at TP-Link 

Image Credit: Totojang1977 / Shutterstock