Workplace IoT
can help to keep
employees healthy
and safe

Author: Shane Schick

According to a recent poll, 87% of workers are ready to return to the office. Yet as the world recovers from COVID-19, expectations around health and safety conditions remain high if not higher. A recent survey found 38.3% of respondents, regardless of whether they worked from home during the pandemic or stayed on-premises, would consider changing their jobs if their workplace was not cleaned properly.

Since 1999, research from Gallup has found that safety at work tops the list of what's important to employees. What has changed since 1999 is the development of technology, such as workplace IoT, to help keep employees healthy and safe.

What Is Workplace IoT?

Internet of Things (IoT) technology has spread everywhere from smart cities to suburban homes, where everyday objects can connect online using sensors and other hardware.

Collecting and sharing information via the IoT doesn't require human intervention and has already offered organizations many benefits, such as predicting when equipment will need to be repaired or providing touchless shopping experiences in retail.

However, workplace IoT isn't limited to customer-facing situations or remote sites like an oil rig. The same technology can be deployed to enhance the employee experience as people move from their desks to breakout rooms, boardrooms and other communal spaces.

IoT Workplace Safety Use Cases

At the general level, IoT technology can offer benefits such as increased productivity, enhanced monitoring and greater convenience. These same benefits apply to workplace IoT. Here are some common use cases for how IoT can be used to improve workplace health and safety.


Sensors can help address potential concerns about overcrowding. Researchers have shown how IoT sensors can track the number of people entering a workplace at a given time. This can be implemented more granularly, to monitor occupancy status of office kitchens, bathrooms or meeting rooms within a workplace.

When paired with room reservation tools, sensors can help address IoT workplace safety by helping organizations maintain capacity limits while effectively allocating available space. Sensors could also help companies that wish to voluntarily reduce room capacity limits to address one of the major concerns about employees returning to the office: potential overcrowding.

Cleanliness and hygiene

It is perhaps no surprise that cleanliness remains an important employee priority—nearly 90% believe workplace cleaning protocols are very or somewhat important, while over 47% say regularly disinfecting shared spaces is the most important safety step an employer can take. Workplace IoT sensors can streamline this process by sending alerts after a desk or space has been occupied for an extended period or by multiple people. Facility managers can also be notified when soap dispensers and towels are running low to allow immediate replacement without relying on a manual check.

IoT sensors can collect real time actionable data to monitor indoor air quality, such as CO2, temperature and humidity levels. Automated air quality control systems integrated with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and purification systems can not only detect and display issues, but also remediate them.

Another way to address hygiene is to reduce the number of places an employee comes in physical contact with during their day. From the moment an employee arrives on site, for instance, workplace IoT can offer a more touchless environment by using sensors to automatically open doors, turn on lights or adjust temperature controls.


IoT-enabled wearable devices could be used to identify workers (that have opted in to share biometric information) that show signs of strain, fatigue, stress or other physical issues. Data collected from wearables can also help to show how employees interact with their environments, such as highlighting common walking routes through a factory floor. When integrated with worksite schematics, companies can analyze the risk of harm and injury from these actions. This same technology can also be used to notify staff about hazardous situations or prevent them from entering areas they are not authorized to access.

Devices with geolocation capabilities can also provide exact locations of employees, which can be critically important during crisis situations such as rescue operations.

Safety threats

Workplace IoT sensors can be used to mitigate a number of possible threats to employee health and safety:

  • Fire safety sensors can identify rises in temperature.
  • Movement sensors can help detect unauthorized visitors.
  • Sensors can be used to enhance vehicle safety by monitoring movement in warehouses and storage areas as well as on roads.

IoT Workplace Safety Privacy Best Practices

While organizations can benefit from these and other workplace safety uses, they should also be aware that some employees may have concerns around privacy or that the technology is being used to punish them. Here are some key steps you can take in order to maximize the benefit of workplace IoT:

  • Be open and transparent about what kind of data is being collected and why. That way, employees are less likely to worry about their privacy at work.
  • Ensure IoT data is used to drive meaningful action. This could include new or updated policies about how and when communal workspaces should be booked and used. Make sure to mention in internal communications about these changes the importance of data collected for workplace safety IoT and how it is benefitting employees.
  • Practice good data governance regarding sensors that track employees, such as wearables.
  • Tap into the expertise of managed service providers who can offer insights about how the use of IoT in the workplace is evolving — as well as what might work best for your organization.

In recent years, the challenges of maintaining workplace health and safety have grown. Thankfully, IoT workplace safety improvements can help to keep your employees secure. Learn more about the power of the IoT to transform the future of work.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.