Buildings Can Work from Home, Too
17 May 2020
With millions of workers worldwide working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what does that mean for the buildings they used to occupy daily? They can’t just be powered down because completely shutting down and restarting a building from zero comes with many challenges. Buildings still need standard maintenance and must meet minimal compliance requirements for safety, security and environmental conditions even if occupancy is at lower-than-normal levels. That means systems for safety and environmental conditions like air circulation must run to maintain minimum levels of oxygen but also to prevent bigger issues like system corrosion. Just like knowledge workers, with the right equipment and access, buildings can successfully work from home.
Business continuity is one of the benefits of remote building connectivity. Giving facility managers the ability to monitor a building’s infrastructure from anywhere means they can address alarms, adjust heating and cooling, monitor building access, reduce downtime and identify maintenance needs – even if they’re working from home. Buildings are significant assets and expenses on a business’s balance sheet. It’s critical to be able to manage both varying occupancy levels and to control systems from anywhere, even if you’re not onsite to create operational continuity and manage costs.
Remote monitoring and management give building managers insight into the building efficiency, policy enforcement and system failure management when circumstances prevent them from accessing their sites or they have reduced staff support to only essential team members.
Connectivity When It Counts
In the event of an emergency that prevents a building manager from being on site, they can’t just throw up their hands and hope for the best. Remote connectivity gives them the ability to:
- Make sure the site is functioning properly;
- Adjust energy consumption;
- Adjust air circulation & environmental conditions
- Carry out certain emergency protocols; and
- Generate performance and compliance reports.
If a building must be closed for a period, remote connectivity also gives the facility manager the ability to prepare the building for restart before occupants return.
Around the Clock Oversight
Remote management is a valuable service under normal circumstances, too. For facility managers who are responsible for a large, multi-site campus, remote access means they don’t have to run from building to building to manage situations and they can even manage global sites from a central location. You can manage this global view from your operations headquarters, your home office or even on your mobile when on the go.
Other building managers might find remote access helpful to check on their sites after hours. The last thing any building manager wants is a late-night call that the building is uncomfortably hot, or something needs urgent repair. Remote connectivity means they’ll get an alert that something is amiss before the situation becomes a serious issue. They can also diagnose the problem and, many times, fix the problem or make an adjustment until a full repair is possible.
Secure Solutions Even When at a Distance
Controlling your building operations must be done securely every day but especially when considering remote management. Bad actors are exploiting the already difficult environment created by COVID-19 with increased cyberattacks, with industries like banking and healthcare, being heavily targeted. Government agencies from the United States and United Kingdom have issued joint alerts regarding the increased attacks.
Buildings aren’t immune to these potential attacks. Hardening your operational technology (OT) systems to help reduce risk and mitigate unexpected costs is critical. When managing your building remote, make sure you enable cybersecurity monitoring to push alerts on performance or security issues and establish an incident readiness and response process to efficiently contain, triage and resolve a problem.
Today, new buildings are designed with connected systems from the very start; some buildings are even online before the walls go up. For older buildings, connectivity can happen in one overhaul, or as systems are replaced over time. Remote access not only helps to keep a building running but can help a business owner to better understand enterprise performance, manage costs and improve operational efficiencies in an uncertain environment.
To learn more about how your building can work from home, click here.
Contributed by Manish Sharma, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Honeywell Building Technologies