COVID pushed the working professionals into work from home mode, and by far, it doesn’t seem it’s going down anytime soon. The abrupt lockdowns and reopening of office spaces time and again is a testament to that statement. Working from home proves to be a lot more challenging than the actual office space. Suppose you think that the statement correlates with your current situation. In that case, you, my friend, need a smart routine that helps you hit maximum productivity while ensuring you don’t have to get up from your chair for monotonous tasks. Read How to Enhance Your Work From Home Life Using Smart Tech here.
The IoT or internet of things makes it possible to completely automate routine tasks using smart devices and hubs that handle simple tasks like turning on the lights, locking/unlocking doors, adjusting thermostats, etc., with finesse. This article is a detailed step-by-step guide to help you build the ultimate smart home setup that takes manual effort for rudimentary tasks out of the equation. Read more to know the prerequisites of building a home automation system and how you can build one.
Smart Gadgets to Improve Your Remote Working Experience
Picking an Ecosystem
Google, Apple, and Amazon are the three prominent brands that offer an ecosystem to connect different smart gadgets and integrate them all together. Google Nest, Amazon Alexa, and Apple Homekit are the most widely adopted ecosystems globally. Other brands are moving towards the “ecosystem” ides but considering the head start that these brands have over any other novice competitor, it’s best to choose from these three. Here’s a basic summation of each of these ecosystems.
Also, read Top 10 Best Smart Speakers Features & Price
Google Nest has a plethora of products that help build the perfect smart home. Moreover, Google Voice Assistant is unmatched in understanding the commands as well as different dialects. If you love Android or have a majority of devices that run on Android, Google Nest is a perfect fit for you.
Amazon Alexa has a product for each of your use cases, be it audio, video, hub, security, etc, and has the power to seamlessly integrate your shopping experience into the mix. Alexa has improved over time and now offers a lot of pre-mapped functions called “skill.” These skills make it easy to execute the simple task by just enunciating the skill to the voice assistant. The Amazon Alexa ecosystem is supported by most smart devices and is a must-have if you already own a few Amazon Alexa-powered products.
For Apple fanatics, Apple Homekit makes more sense because the seamless transfer of data between Macs and other devices is a sweet treat. Apple HomeKit doesn’t have that many supported products under its belt, but you can still find the most popular one with inbuilt support for Apple Homekit.
Fix Your Wi-Fi
Smart home setup is reliant on seamless and blazing-fast internet connectivity. The first step in this direction is to get a dual-band Wi-Fi router that can connect with your smart devices. The two most popular Wi-Fi bands are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, each with its charm and limitations. If your ISP has you on a fixed-data plan, upgrade to an unlimited one, or your speed will go down, which will induce latency in speech recognition and data processing on different smart devices.
You have to position your router in such a manner that the signals reach every corner of the house. Try to place the router higher on a wall and direct the antennas, so the signal spreads out. These little things matter a lot and can save you from the recurring “device is not connected to the internet” error due to poor signal availability. If you have multiple floors, then daisy-chaining two routers can let you have good reception across each floor.
Get a Smart Hub
A smart hub can solve all your problems by acting as a center point of control for your smart devices. The idea behind it is very simple: connect all devices to it and relay commands from one device. Smart Hubs take the manual effort out of the equation by allowing you to create routines and triggers for each of your smart devices. Moreover, the smart devices owned by you may not offer a greater level of control over them.
The best practice is to use a Smart Hub to connect to the speakers, thermostats, cameras, etc., with multiple connectivity mediums to reduce network congestion. A few devices work on ZigBee because they do not need excessive network resources to perform simple actions. So, using a Smart Hub makes more sense as it reduces the load on Wi-Fi and can create complex routines that involve multiple devices. There is a small learning curve in using Smart Hubs, but you will be extremely happy with the result, which is complete automation.
Strategic steps to Enhance your Work From Home Life using Smart Tech
After completing the pre-requisites, you are ready to begin building a smart home that complements your work-from-home routine. All that is left now is to create a personalized smart home automation routine with smart devices. This section will focus on using smart devices to remove the need for monotonous tasks.
Do Strategic Smart Device Placement
The goal of this endeavor is to reduce your need to step out of your chair during work hours. For that, you need to place smart speakers and hubs in every room that you need to monitor and control remotely. Place smart speakers in such a manner that they are audible and can be accessed by voice commands. In your home office, make sure to place them nearby so that you can issue voice commands directly. Most of your smart devices will need AC power which is why you need to place them near a wall socket.
Similarly, for rooms that need both visual and audio monitoring/communication, using a combination of smart bulbs and security cameras is advisable. You can use them to monitor the activity of kids/elders/pets during work hours by accessing cameras and can talk to them using the smart speakers. Moreover, the devices can work in congruence to save electricity when no person is present in the room.
Similarly, resetting a thermostat or opening doors is a constant pain point throughout the day that can be solved by getting a smart thermostat and using smart doorbells. You can communicate with the person outdoors via the doorbell or a security cam with a mic and can set up intrusion detection to raise alarms for any malicious activity.
If you are dealing with only a handful of devices, using them with default names is not a concern. But if you intend to use a larger bunch, clear naming is an absolute necessity. A good naming process is by combining the device type and room/area of use, e.g., “Speaker 1 Living Room.” Good naming practices also enable easy searchability of devices if you want to map a new routine or access them from a long list of devices.
Smart Devices can work in tandem to do simple and even complex chores while you are busy with work. Deploying a robot vacuum cleaner while you are getting ready can reduce the morning burden of cleaning the floor and keeping it fresh every day. Similarly, smart geysers can heat up the water before you take a bath by simple voice command or a periodic routine if you have the habit of waking up on time.
You can set routines for deactivating many devices in your personal or recreation time. Smart bulbs can be turned off at specified times and can even light up as soon as sunset happens. Similarly, the voice detection on smart speakers can be muted during the night or while having a personal conversation by creating profiles. Using a smart hub is an added advantage as it offers a kill switch that can turn off every routine and device when not in use. It is extremely beneficial if you are inviting or expecting guests who do not want to be overwhelmed with your smart home setup.
Use Smart Plugs for non-Smart Devices
Some devices are yet to enter the smart ecosystems and can impede your smart home project. Smart plugs can solve this problem by acting as a wireless toggle switch for power. Smart plugs can turn off appliances and even turn them on by working on schedules. Heaters, geysers, kitchen appliances can be commandeered using smart plugs. You only have to take care of the voltage capacity before using them with a home appliance. Remember that this strategy will only work with devices that do not need further commands to perform a task. For that, you have to get up and manually set up the appliance.
You might be also, interested in: Best Power Strips and Smart Plugins to Keep You Going!
Achieve Maximum Work Efficiency
Professionals tend to forget a few assigned tasks because of unbalanced work/home life. Our advice is to set up and map your work calendar to the smart devices or the hub and set up reminders. Periodic reminders will help you avoid last-minute surprise delays and help you complete the work in due time. Health is often ignored when automation is introduced in smart homes, but you can use the automation to your advantage. Setting up sedentary reminders is an excellent way to leave the chair for a short break and move around the house.
You can even sync your smartwatch to monitor your activity levels and can measure your stress levels throughout the day while working. All this accumulated data can be analysed to find solutions, which can be then mapped in the routine as reminders. A healthy body will be able to produce great results and sustain the work from home life for a longer time.
A Word of Caution
The smart home lifestyle is great for automation and increasing productivity but it has some underlying issues too. Setting up so many cameras and voice recording microphones in your house means you are recording all your private data. The security of this data needs to be robust which is why trusting only reliable manufacturers and reading their security clauses are important. Understand how your data is processed and used and how much of it is stored on the web. New-generation smart speakers are reducing reliance on cloud-based processing which is a good thing as most of your data is stored and processed on the device.
This was our guide on creating a smart home that can help you thrive in your work-from-home lifestyle and make the maximum out of it. There are a lot of intricacies involved in the technical aspects which may be overwhelming for a person with a non-technical background. For those individuals, hiring professional help is more suitable. Do mention your comments regarding this home automation setup and share any upgrades that we might have overlooked in this post.
How does Smart Tech Work?
Smart devices work with an internet connection and usually connect over Wi-Fi to enable remote connectivity. Most of them also support voice assistant commands from different voice search assistants like Alexa.
Why use Smart Home Technology at Home?
Smart home tech can save loads of time which can be reinvested in work and leisure activities. It can automate a lot of mundane and repetitive actions and can provide an overall productive environment for homeowners.
What are the Disadvantages of Smart Homes?
There are no disadvantages of smart home tech. The entry barrier is slightly high which means a lot of one-time installation costs and subsequent subscription costs for some devices.