What’s New in Smart Building Tech: Space Utilization Sensors
Tech companies have long been pioneers of workplace transformation by necessity, with an incessant need to keep up with growth and attract top talent. With Smart Offices now an indelible part of the workplace landscape, utilization data is increasingly at the heart of the workplace revolution, opening new frontiers for enhancing savings and reimagining the employee experience.
Unfortunately, gathering and analyzing this information hasn’t always been easy. Now, with technological advances, tech companies are discovering new ways to capture and use space utilization data. Here’s how:
A Changing Space Utilization Landscape for Tech Companies
Utilization data is essentially any data that reflects how spaces are actually being used, which can mean how many people have swiped into a building on a given day, or how many times a conference room was at capacity according to a smart sensor.
Once upon a time, companies were forced to rely on professionals to physically walk through buildings, floor by floor, and conduct manual audits. This method relied heavily on physical observations and estimates—some that weren’t always accurate. These manual methods also required time-intensive processes, tedious number crunching, and were rather limited in their applications to the daily life of employees.
As utilization data has become more accessible and as the workplace technology designed around utilization has become more nuanced and robust, Smart Offices are now taking shape in many forms, with systems that capture utilization to inform workplace planning/modernization, to employee wayfinding apps that connect people to their spaces.
Utilization is Driving the Flexible Space Revolution
With greater insight than ever before on how much space is needed, the supply and demand for different types of spaces, and where individuals are within the office environment, Tech companies can now measure flexible spaces with greater precision than even the most traditional and static cubicle farm.
This has led to the rise of Activity Based Work environments, where sections of offices are redesigned to be unassigned, offering employees an exciting array of choices for places to work throughout the day. In the past, this may have been untenable, but Utilization data means that companies can continuously optimize these environments based on how they are used. Peak utilization metrics tell companies exactly how many seats they need to provide business units, and wayfinding applications ensure that employees can always find their colleagues and view the availability of spaces in real-time.
Today’s most advanced workplace software specializes in leveraging utilization data into solutions for planning, managing, navigating, and optimizing flexible spaces.
How Tech Firms Can Use Utilization Data
With this new caliber of data, there are new possibilities for space planning. Here are some ways to use utilization numbers to build a better workplace:
Align Workplaces to Employee Needs
Organizations can use heat maps to determine the optimal combination of spaces based on what activities they support. This way, organizations can find the right balance of meeting rooms, lounges, phone booths, hot desks, and other key space types.
Plan for Peak Utilization
In a traditional office environment, everyone was assigned a seat and once all seats were assigned, that office was at full capacity… but how many people actually show up on any given day? And what about part-time and remote opportunities? Peak utilization tells organizations the maximum number of people that show up on any given day of the year, so they can plan based on how much space they actually use, instead of how much space is assigned.
Enhance Precision of Wayfinding Technology
Utilization data can feed employee apps with real-time insights into where colleagues are located and which rooms are available.
Target Gaps and Inefficiencies
Utilization data makes it easier for professionals to eliminate wasted space by identifying gaps between how space is assigned and how it is used. Just as a building assigned to 300 people may rarely see more than 200 in attendance, the same principle can be applied from the floor level down to the individual desk.
Increase Capacity with Ratio-Seating
With utilization data, organizations can assign seating ratios to different shared neighborhoods that increase capacity beyond one seat per person, and continuously refine that ratio over time. A ratio of 1.5 people per seat, for example, represents a 50% increase in building capacity.
Improve Energy Efficiency
Especially with increasingly flexible schedules, it’s easy to run air-conditioning, lights, or other utilities when employees aren’t around. With real-time utilization data, it’s now possible to use energy more efficiently. By capturing the numbers, planners can set the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system to line up with employees’ schedules—saving money and reducing the company’s environmental footprint.
Evaluate Move Scenarios
By integrating utilization data with scenario planning software, organizations can test and evaluate how different move scenarios would impact their people and their bottom line.
Make Evidence-Based Business Cases
It’s now possible to capture the numbers to justify moves. Using validated utilization data from badge entry swipes, lighting sensors, and other sources provides evidence where there once were just estimates to get buy-in from all key decision makers.
Overall, tech companies finally have the tools and automation to power better space planning. Technology is taking the guesswork out of utilization data, and it’s resulting in better outcomes.