IIoT and Work-Life Balance: A Healthy and Productive Relationship

This article was authored by Kirk Byles, FreeWave CEO  The Industrial Internet of Things can improve productivity and promote a healthy work-life balance. Here’s how. “There is no such thing as work-life balance anymore. You’ve got to integrate them. Otherwise, you will fail miserably at one of them.” – Benjamin Laker, Forbes Because of COVID-19, the boundaries between our work and home lives continue to blur. I often find myself doing chores while on a conference call or listening to a webinar while cooking at my barbeque. And I’m becoming more interested in who is at the office, now that we’ve opened part-time (I use the key card application on my phone to monitor access). It’s not my intention to be Big Brother – working from the FreeWave office is voluntary. Rather, I want to gauge how folks are feeling. I took the same action to monitor my kid’s activities at home when I was still working from the office, to see whether or not they crank the heat or A/C when they get home from school. These are typical IoT-related activities we take for granted. Like most people, I’ve tried to strike the perfect balance between my life at work and my life at home. Since I’ve worked remotely for most of my professional life, I’m fairly disciplined when it comes to shutting off work at the appropriate time. Still, like so many people, I’ve recently found myself working extended hours. Experts criticize the concept of work-life balance because it suggests life and work are in opposition. And the pursuit of balance is exhausting. Some researchers suggest it’s better to embrace imbalance than strive to achieve a state of work-life nirvana. And I tend to agree with them. Of course, you have to schedule aspects of your work-from-home time, just like you’d plan family activities. Still, there’s nothing wrong with blocking out personal time during the day if you can spend a few hours hiking with your kids or friends during the afternoon. Even if you’ll be working at 10 PM as a result. This balancing act is new to quite a few folks, and it’s difficult. But, if you have the right solutions at your fingertips, it gives you peace of mind and helps you become more efficient. I mentioned mobile apps for my home and office, but what about tools for people working in industries that need to go beyond looking at cameras or names on a screen? Many people work in oilfields, on manufacturing floors, water sanitation sites, farms, or cities. And for most of their careers, they’ve been able to pull data from remote locations, view pressure gauges, monitor flow rates, check on pick and place machines for errors, and in some cases, manipulate those machines remotely (assuming they have the necessary skills). How does this work get done when you have to work from home? The right technology makes it possible. By placing edge computers with industrial applications where the action is happening, people can see the apps at work and relax, knowing they’ll be notified if there is a problem. This helps remote employees see what might be happening, and it also helps them know what is actually happening and how automatic changes improve systems. With edge computers, application-specific software, and communications technologies, folks working from home don’t have to stress about what’s happening on-site. And they don’t have to try to fix issues. The software corrects the issue before you know there’s a problem, so you can cook for the kids and rest easy knowing you’ve had zero downtime and machinery is running at absolute efficiency. The IIoT helps Mom, the field services director for a major utility, work from home, and be 10x more productive because of remote applications at the edge that make sure everything runs as it should. She can spend more time with the kids, and address aspects of her work she couldn’t get to before implementing this technology. It’s about creating efficiencies and solving problems before you even know there is one. An imbalance between work and home life is okay as long as you’re doing all you can to ensure work gets done and your home life isn’t neglected. The Industrial Internet of Things can make this possible for all of us.

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