Working from home – new opportunities for the smart contractor
With working from home likely to be the new normal for many people for the foreseeable future, Marie Parry, group marketing director Scolmore Group, looks at how contractors can help home workers understand the benefits of smart technology to enhance their new ‘office’ environments.
It may have started out with the requisitioning of a corner of the kitchen table, but as lockdown continued, millions in the UK have found themselves adapting to a new working from home regime. With restrictions being lifted and people starting to make their way back into office environments, it is likely that for many, working from home will become a new regular pattern in their working week.
Having made do with their temporary situations while uncertainty on the return to work prevailed, many are now assessing how they can make their living space work better to accommodate their new long term working requirements. Long periods confined indoors have also given householders ample time to question other aspects of their living environment, such as the increase in energy usage, as well as security provision.
This new working landscape and consciousness provides an opportunity for contractors to guide householders through various decision processes to suit their particular requirements and present them a range of options, solutions and costs that they will feel comfortable adopting.
The biggest hurdle for many, at a time when job security and financial constraints are a major worry, will be the perceived expense of making any significant changes. The decision to convert a spare bedroom or the corner of a room, for example, may simply require additional sockets to be added to cope with the plethora of equipment required– laptops, monitors, routers, boosters, lamps etc.
The ability to control lighting will have appeal both from an energy saving point of view as well as convenience and this can be easily and relatively cheaply addressed with a smart system which can be operated from a smart phone. The Click Smart Box and App has been designed with simplicity in mind and just requires broadband connection. It can be easily integrated into a new or existing Click Smart installation and provides an easy, quick and relatively inexpensive way to adapt and update a home to provide extra security, energy saving, comfort and control. Installation is simple and flexible, and because it requires no additional cables or wall cutting it means minimum disruption for householders – a key selling point for contractors to get across to customers. Receivers can be installed behind light fittings or into suitable installation boxes and can be utilised with existing wiring.
Comprising three basic components, Click Smart Box, RF Receivers and a Smart Phone, the system is a high end, professional one which is very competitively priced and has been designed with installers in mind. Critical information is stored within the Smart Box, not the phone, making it easy if a phone needs to be upgraded or other users added - without affecting the settings. With all the settings stored on the Smart Box, there is no need to programme and install all the elements onto each individual phone. Scolmore’s App for the Click Smart range has the added benefit of ‘cloud function’. This provides access to Click Smart installations through the internet, allowing secure control of devices from anywhere in the world.
Peace of mind
The options for providing householders with peace of mind when it comes to security measures are wide ranging, and contractors will have access to a range of solutions to suit all levels of budget and likely appetite for smart technology.
At one end, a simple Wi-Fi, or ‘smart’ doorbell like ESP’s Aperta Wi-Fi door station will allow users to view and talk to visitors at their home without having to make regular, disruptive trips to the front door. From a smart phone or tablet and using the free ESP app, they can easily see who is at the door or gate, engage in two-way communication and allow remote access if desired. The Wi-Fi Door Station comes in a kit form containing everything required for the installer to quickly and simply get the system up and running.
Part of the working from home phenomena is the need to have various items of valuable equipment on the premises, which is giving rise to concern over potential break ins and thefts. There is a range of smart security solutions that contractors can talk their customers through - from entry level CCTV systems, to the more sophisticated IP CCTV solutions.
The RekorHD range from ESP is an ideal system for those homeowners looking for a premium quality CCTV system that is very competitively priced. These 4-channel 1080p CCTV Kits are packed with features, but come with an affordable price tag, making them ideal entry level products. They are designed with ease of set up as a key feature, including the option for remote monitoring via smartphone or tablet, using ESP’s specially developed RekorHD APP. So whether they are working from home or in the office, users are able to keep an eye on their premises. There are 2 and 4 camera kits available and they include a 4-channel DVR, premium quality surveillance hard drive, cameras, camera cables, system power supply, mouse and HDMI cable. The menu is designed to be very user-friendly and is navigated via mouse control, making it an easy sell to customers.
For those customers willing to invest in a more sophisticated security solution, or are keen to upgrade on old system, contractors can recommend ESP’s HDView range of 4 Megapixel CCTV systems. These offer an upgrade from 1080p (2 Megapixel) to 4MP to give users a higher density of pixels to produce a super high definition image clarity. The HDview 4MP range was developed to bring to market a complete collection of superior quality, high end CCTV products that offer greatly improved image specification, while also benefitting from a contemporary look that is being demanded by more and more end users.
At the top end of the market for domestic CCTV solutions that homeowners may consider is the latest IP POE CCTV technology. This is designed to offer superior, reliable and straightforward installation solutions. ESP’s REKOR IP 2 Megapixel range features POE (Power-Over-Ethernet) which enables the camera and power feed to be wired in Cat5e cable up to 100 metres without the need for additional power, which makes installation much more convenient. A single Ethernet cable provides both the power and the HD digital feed, with just one cable per camera and multiple cameras can be installed anywhere on the network that the NVR is connected to. The NVRs are packed with features, such as remote monitoring via the ESP IPView App, H265 compression, motion record activation and they are supplied with quality surveillance hard drives for peace of mind.
Working from home – the new normal
According to the ONS, of the 32.6 million people in the workforce, only 1.7 million people in the UK worked from home prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The forced social distancing measures, implemented to curb the spread of the virus, have seen an estimated 20 million people relocating to home offices. Improvements in communications and collaboration technology mean that working from home has become a viable reality for both employees and businesses, and contractors are in a prime position to help drive the growth of smart solutions that will facilitate the creation of new home working environments.