November 1, 2014

17 Tips and WiFi Tech for Making Your Office Smarter

smart office solutions

Having a small business does not mean you cannot have all the latest tech. You can move your small business or home office into the future by installing some of these WiFi devices.

Begin making your work life easier by making your office smarter with these smart office solutions below.

Belkin Instant Switch

The Belkin instant switch allows you to monitor energy usage and control electronics from anywhere in your office. You can turn devices on or off, set schedules, or set alerts to tell you when the shared printer has finished your project. It works with both Android tablets and smartphones.

Google Cloud Print

You can print anywhere and from any device using Google Cloud Print. You can connect as many printers as you want to your account, share printers, so that others can print from your printers, and print things at your office while you are on the go. Even if without a Cloud Ready printer, you can still get connected.

Kwikset Deadbolt

Instead of using a key, you can also use WiFi enabled deadbolt locks for doors. For example, there is a single cylinder deadbolt by Kwikset. This one comes with a Kevo fob, or you can access it with your smartphone.

PlantLink

smart office solutions

Do you have trouble remembering when to water your plants? PlantLink sends customized messages to let you know when you need to water or if you have over-watered. It accounts for different types of plants and can create a watering schedule or analyze your watering history.

Cubico 40 Self-Watering Planter

Or, you can automate your plant watering with the Cubico 40 Self-Watering Planter. This planter automatically waters your plants so that they receive just the right amount of water. You will need to water regularly for the first three months, but then you just keep the reservoir full as needed. It is a great way for busy offices to have live greenery.

Doorbot

Want to know who is at the door before you unlock it? You can install a WiFi doorbell, such as Doorbot. Most come with night vision cameras and allow you to see and talk to your visitors before allowing them access.

Twine

You can purchase Twine to monitor your office environment and discover minor problems before they become major ones. Not only will Twine make sure your office thermostat is set right, you can set it up to monitor other things such as orientation and vibrations.

You can even purchase separate sensors to monitor for leaks, floods, and opened doors. With Twine, there is no need to head to the office after hours on your days off to make sure everything is how it’s supposed to be.

Honeywell Comfort System

smart office solutions

Honeywell’s Comfort System Kit is one of many programmable thermostats that allow you not only to schedule daily events and special events, but also to access your temperature controls via the Internet.

Nest Thermostat

Another good thermostat is the Nest Thermostat – 2nd Generation. This one goes a step beyond other programmable thermostats with more advanced A.I. (artificial intelligence) that learns what temperatures you like and when you like them. While I am a fan of the Nest, since Google acquired them, I opted not to install mine.

Sonos CONNECT:AMP

You can control the music in your break room or waiting room by installing a WiFi stereo system. For example, Sonos CONNECT:AMP lets you stream music from your tablet, smartphone, or computer and to program different playlists for different areas of your office.

Philips Hue Lighting

Philips Hue offers some pretty remarkable lighting options. You will need to start with a kit, but one bridge can control up to 50 lights. You can change both the color and mood of these LED lights. You can turn them on or off remotely or program them to change color and brightness throughout the day.

Qmotion

smart office solutions

In addition to light bulbs, companies such as Qmotion allow you to automate curtains and blinds. These are programmable and can be controlled with smartphones or tablets. They also offer a manual override.

Coolcam Wireless WiFi Security IP Camera

Security is another important area you can automate. Cameras, such as the Coolcam Wireless WiFi Security IP Camera, will not only allow you to monitor areas from your smartphone, tablet, or computer, but also send you email notifications when it detects motion.

Electric Imp

If you are especially tech savvy, you can purchase an Electric Imp and connect anything to the Internet. This device requires basic computer building and coding (Squirrel) knowledge, but allows you to take any electronic device you have in your office and connect it to a cloud-based service for monitoring through your Android or IOS.

Ninja Block

If you want an all-in-one sensor, motion detector, doorbell, etc. then Ninja Block will do it all. Theoretically, you can hook it up to everything and, for example, have it turn on any web cameras you have monitoring inventory only when motion is detected in that area. However, it only comes with one of each type of device.

Revolv

smart office solutions

Or, there are also master controls, such as Revolv, to integrate all your office’s automated devices. Revolv specifically will connect your iOS with Sonos (speakers), Schlage, Kwikset, Yale (locks), Philips Hue, Insteon (lights), GE, Leviton, Belkin Wemo (switches), Nest, and Honeywell (thermostats).

Ivee

You can also take it a step beyond with Ivee. This alarm clock allows you to monitor doors, locks, and even who is in the building with you using voice activated commands. Since you are working with both WiFi and sound, it takes a few seconds to execute commands, but it provides you with great, hands-free convenience.

Many of these tools come with a little bit of a learning curve, but can save you time and effort in the long run. Some of them could save you money on your utility bill making them worth the curve.

If you have an automation tool that you love and use — it might be an app, it might be the hardware itself — I would love to hear about it.

Office Photo via Shutterstock

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TJ McCue - Product Editor


TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

5 Reactions

  1. Having grown up on a farm I chuckle at these plant watering devices. It seems like swatting a fly with a grenade. Just water the plant when it looks a little droopy.

  2. I think PlantLink and the self-watering planter are really cool. I also like the Belkin instant switch.

  3. That self watering planter from Cubico is just what I need for my home office. Can’t remember how many plants died in my care because I forgot to water them.

  4. TJ McCue – We perked up a bit at your tip about Google Cloud Print – This has our team thinking differently. After so many years and so many tools, tough to get through them all. Thanks TJ

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