Workplace Thought Leadership

Hybrid and Smart: Building the Workplaces of the Future 

By Michael Picini
Senior Executive Director
Cognitive Corp.

Now, perhaps more than ever, employers are seeking to enhance their approach to the workplace experience. They are embracing new trends, such as hybrid structures and smart buildings, to create what we like to call “digital workplace euphoria.”

Euphoria may seem like hyperbole, but happy employees make for successful businesses. We’re not talking about amenities like ping pong tables, free Friday lunches, and in-office theaters. The goal of a euphoric workplace is to transform barely there connected offices to intelligent, autonomous ecosystems that empower employees to their most productive and efficient while maintaining healthy work-life balances.

Research indicates that we are seeing much more of a radical change among companies reacting to the workplace trends. Leaders in companies may not respond to every human or occupant need, but certainly, they are reacting to create a more automated workplace for agile teams. One part of the “why” for proactive movement toward hybrid agile is the long-term impact on business.

Many companies are going through significant financial losses due to COVID-19. How companies navigate digital disruption will likely affect their revenues and future operations. During the crisis of the companies who saw a 25% growth in the revenues 72% were first to experiment with new technologies. As well, 67% of those companies invested more in digital-related expenditures, according to a 2020 report by McKinsey. The companies that had not taken steps are electing to embrace the productivity associated with remote work to help them recoup those costs of not doing so in the past.

Certain financial dependencies, like expiring office leases and stakeholder pressures, are pushing companies to make an immediate decision on how to proceed with digital based investments to create work environments conducive to agile work, from anywhere. According to a Gartner survey, 38% of tech, media, and telecom business leaders (and 26% of leaders across all represented industries) reported plans to reduce their real estate footprint by, for example, closing retail locations. Gartner also reported that 74% of CFOs and finance leaders at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions after COVID-19.

Why Companies Choose to Go Hybrid

Remote and hybrid work is not new, but it certainly hasn’t been as widespread as it is now. According to a Microsoft report, some professions have been trending toward remote work since the oil crisis of the 1970s that resulted in substantially higher commuting and automotive costs. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic drove a “profound increase in the magnitude and speed of the shift toward remote work, with 88% of organizations from around the world surveyed in March [2020] reporting that they were encouraging employees to work from home,” the report noted. More than a third of U.S. workers transitioned to remote or hybrid work between March and April 2020 alone.

Aside from the long-term impact on fiscal reports, this mass transition away from the confines of a 9-to-5 physical office is the other part of the “why” for companies looking to improve three key facets of the digital workplace: people, space, and technology.

The Workplace Mantra: People, Space, and Technology

Creating an environment for employees – or an investor’s case, tenants – that elicits a sense of euphoria is challenging but not impossible. How are companies tackling the digital workplace? There are three elements of an optimized workplace that one should consider.

The first starts with people. People form the community within an organization that will serve as the litmus test for successful digital workplace implementation.

The second element is technology, which acts as the catalyst for change and encompasses each tier of the Smart Building Maturity Model. Most buildings fall somewhere in between the connected and intelligent spaces of the model. From the Internet of Things (IoT) to artificial intelligence (AI), the infrastructure created by technology ultimately makes up the third element of an enhanced workplace: space.

Space doesn’t always refer to a physical location; it relates to the context in which people are working. Space can mean a geographically distributed footprint, flexible hoteling and co-working spaces within your organization, or a scalable real estate portfolio that allows you to set your physical and virtual space settings in a manner that best suits your internal method of operating.

Georgia-Pacific (GP) is one company that has fully embraced all three spheres of the optimized workplace, and by the way is one of the companies that experimented with digital based agile work long before the COVID-19 crisis. The Atlanta-based maker of paper, packaging, building products, and related chemicals resides in an iconic office tower. In the first major renovation since the company occupied the tower in 1982, GP aimed to achieve “optimal integration, functionality, cost and efficiency among the various systems throughout each floor – lighting, HVAC, audio-visual and room scheduling systems,” according to a company press release. The digital building transformation included an Internet of Things (IoT) foundation that resulted in economically feasible, purposeful automation carefully constructed for GP’s user base.

GP reported that the building uses “bio-dynamic (circadian) lighting in the office and collaboration areas, driven by network-connected lighting management. [GP] will respond to peak electrical demands by adjusting building systems. The interconnected system allows the company to collect accurate, real-time data to understand how the space is used, improve employee productivity and satisfaction, and increase real estate investment.”

Along with commercial offices, hospitality and education are two other industries that are exceptionally receptive to similar methods of in-house automation. Fortunately, platforms offered by companies like SpaceIQ offer businesses of all sizes and types of options to create digital workplaces that support agility and flexibility.

Hybrid Strategies for Working “Smart” and Hard

For many companies, leveraging hybrid strategies starts with creating smart buildings and workplaces.

Smart building(s) – both as a verb and a noun – is a partner of hybrid workplaces at the heart of the “next normal” regarding the future of work. Over the last year, companies worldwide have experienced a rapid shift to long-term hybrid and/or remote environments. From Human Resources (HR) to Information Technology (IT) to Marketing and beyond, the functional teams within these organizations are being driven to review their existing work practices and confirm that they align with employees’ current needs.

For some companies, this process may feel like an uncertain scramble – but it shouldn’t.

This moment presents an opportunity for organizations to revise their digital framework and create an even better workplace experience – one that encourages a positive return-to-office transition after a yearlong hiatus or, for remote and hybrid workers, a structure that compels them to engage virtually. Smart building is critical for both employees and executives to tap into the human side of work and reach peak satisfaction in the process of doing so.

As a company specializing in “smart building,” Cognitive Corp is at the forefront of researching and analyzing workplace trends and technologies that impact commercial real estate (CRE) teams.

So, what do we mean by “smart building?” In a word, automation.

Smart building implies that a company has a built-in infrastructure to automate as many day-to-day and long-term tasks as possible. Infrastructure can include IT and networks, HVAC, lighting, time-tracking, scheduling, and anything in between that has a digital footprint.

A key strategy is to distribute the levels of automation and smart building into four tiers on a visual pyramid called the Smart Building Maturity Model. This model helps companies prioritize based on current needs and future growth:

  • Connected Building: Connected building forms the foundation at the bottom of the pyramid. Most companies fall into this category, which includes basic IT networks and the commonplace technology you’d find in a standard office.
  • Intelligent Building: With system integration, energy efficiency, and building automation, intelligent building is what most companies strive for in their next-level smart building process. It can lead to more unified collaboration, better asset management, and streamlined workspace and remote services.
  • Smart Building: The core of the pyramid. Smart building includes open architecture, occupant interaction predictive analytics, which contributes to human centric workplace metrics, on-demand services, big data, and more elements of building intelligence. The future of work is already here, and smart building should be a consideration for most companies.
  • Cognitive Building: At the pinnacle of the pyramid we’ll find cognitive building. Here, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics are the vital pieces that drive building automation. While most non-technological companies do not aim for this high-level tier, we believe it’s still essential knowledge to know all the possibilities within the realm of intelligent architecture.

Data-driven Insights to Support the Hybrid Workplace

The digital workplace focuses on the occupant’s experience within a technological ecosystem. A successful digital workplace supports the human-centric side of corporate initiatives. Different personas within the commercial real estate industry will perform unique functions depending on their role in their organization. However, all roles utilize metrics to inform the progress of their digital transformation.

For individual roles, here are some items to consider:

  • Commercial Real Estate and Facilities Managers: Individuals entrusted with managing facilities should articulate workplace values about the broader business. This includes adapting to change, especially as it relates to the physical space. Your growth mindset should shift from fixed to fluid.
  • Workplace Professionals: As a workplace professional, try to develop strategies and tactics that support agile, flexible workplaces and employee experiences. Consider the wider range of knowledge available to you, beyond just “physical office” and “working from home.”

Workplace Euphoria is Frictionless

An agile, flexible workplace is no longer an option for most businesses; it is a requirement. Baseline metrics allow companies to see how initiatives eliminate employee and occupant stress during times of uncertainty, deliver on diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments, improve operational efficiency, and make remote work, workable.

Additionally, metrics shed light into the onboarding of new technologies, security automation, and workplace productivity. Workplace analytics provide a 360-degree view of any misaligned technology expectations. Embracing technology to create agility and flexibility in return to the workplace can result in euphoria for employers and employees.

Keep reading: What Are Smart Workplace Solutions?


Geospatial Digital Twin Explained

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

Geographic Information System (GIS) data is becoming more and more a pillar of building architecture and life cycle maintenance. Unsurprisingly, it’s led to the rise of geospatial digital twins as part of building governance. These systems represent the pinnacle of a data-driven approach to building oversight and bring broad context to virtually any quantifiable physical attribute someone might want to know.

From the numbers of floors to the year it was built, geospatial twins take a bevy of contextual data about a building and combine it all into one comprehensive representation. And, because that representation is digital, the possibilities for integration are infinite. Maintenance teams can review deep insights about the building itself, while portfolio managers can evaluate the building as part of a portfolio—each for the purpose of making data-driven decisions about building management.

While extremely insightful, geospatial digital twins and the GIS data that populates them are equally as complex. Here’s a quick primer on what they are, how they work, and why they’re growing in importance.

What is geospatial digital twin?

A geospatial digital twin is a digital model of a building extrapolated from many different data fields—specifically, GIS data. Where a digital twin is a virtual mirror of a building and its systems, adding GIS brings quantifiable elements into the fold. For example, you’re not just looking at a floor plan; you’re looking at a floor plan in context with the measurements of the space and the position of its unique elements in space.

GIS data goes beyond the building itself. A geospatial twin represents the building within the context of its surroundings. How many meters from the road is the front door? How tall is the building compared to the closest nearby structure? How far above sea level is the building located? The sheer abundance of GIS data informs a geospatial model that bring far-ranging context to the digital twin.

What does geospatial digital twin do?

There are endless possibilities for what geospatial twins are capable of. But what are they practical for? According to Esri, the global leader in geographic information system software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications:

Geospatial technology interconnects information, systems, models, and behaviors with spatial context, creating holistic digital representations of environments, assets, networks, and cities.

In simpler terms: geospatial twins harness GIS data into usable information. Why does it matter how far above sea level the building is? Well, it could inform how an HVAC tech services your building’s heating system—or the type of system best-suited to replace an aging one. Who cares about the building’s distance from the road? You might, if it impedes your plans to expand the atrium outwards. GIS data offers practical insights; the geospatial twin brings this data into context.

How geospatial digital twin can help a company

From a practical standpoint, there are an abundance of opportunities for using geospatial twins to harness broad data. Many vital business plans and operational aspects are predicated on GIS data in some way, shape, or form.

  • Emergency planning. The fastest and safest escape plan comes from understanding the layout of a building from a fundamental standpoint. Likewise, GIS can inform interoffice emergency planning in the event a threat is external—like inclement weather.
  • Risk management. GIS data allows for incident modeling and risk management. If you understand the variables of your building and its surroundings, it becomes easier to plan for avoidable situations or for unwanted eventualities.
  • Utility optimization. Are solar panels a conducive investment for your building? How much is inclement weather affecting your power systems, i.e. outages? GIS information can correlate variables to show a clearer picture of utilities and how to optimize them.
  • Health and wellness. Environmental factors have a huge effect on people’s health. Employers can use GIS data to create new workplace initiatives that improve health—everything from workplace design to amenities offered. On-site gym, anyone?
  • Digital transformation. A geospatial twin builds out the bedrock for an expanding IoT network within your building and beyond. The more devices incorporated, the more information available and the broader the insights about a building and its surroundings.

Above all, GIS data and geospatial digital twins unlock better decision-making opportunities. Building managers with access to these data systems and the broad insights they offer stand poised to make better, more informed decisions about everything from the building itself to the operations within it.

GIS data unlocks smart building potential

As buildings become smarter, the systems that govern them need to get smarter. GIS data and the digital twins they inform represent a trend in the right direction. While the IoT and other networked systems pave the way for office operational insights, GIS and geospatial twins provide a backdrop for these insights within the context of a digitally proportionate building. Together, stakeholders have a clear representation of facilities and everything within them.

With so much data and the broad context that follows it, companies can unlock amazing potential for improvements—to both buildings and the operations within them. It’s all part of the continuum of smart building technology.

Keep reading: How to Use Digital Twin Software


Five Smart Workplace Examples With Huge ROI Benefits

By Dave Clifton
Content Marketing Strategist

Most offices today have smart elements. There are smart workplace examples all around us—from simple motion sensor lighting to the access control system you use to badge in at work. And while most people don’t think twice about them, these systems offer incredible benefits for everyone who interacts with them. For businesses, there’s untold ROI that comes from investing in a smart workplace.

What is a smart workplace? It’s one that’s supported by an infrastructure of sensors, beacons, and software that augment the physical workplace. Floor sensors that show a digital meeting room as “occupied,” A beacon that recognizes your laptop and provides employee-only Wi-Fi access. A digital twin that congregates the entire office infrastructure into a powerful, visual dashboard. All these and more are elements of a smart workplace.

But what makes a workplace smart is the wherewithal of facility managers to apply these technologies in meaningful ways. Here are five pieces of tech and how, applied correctly, they can yield big returns for companies.

1. Workplace sensors

Workplace sensors are the bedrock of smart technology. There’s an abundance of sensor types and functions—everything from motion sensors to forced air temperature sensors. What makes them all so important within the smart building ecosystem is their programmability.

Most sensors are I/O sensors, which means they send a simple on/off trigger to the systems they’re paired with. That trigger, alongside other data, makes it possible to automate and improve virtually any part of the workplace.

  • Motion sensor lights reduce energy cost by staying on only when they’re needed
  • Occupancy sensors prevent overbooking in rooms, to avoid disruption
  • Temperature sensors ensure HVAC functions efficiently, to keep people comfortable

These improvements all have ROI attached to them, be it energy costs, man hours saved, or improved workplace comfort and morale.

2. Room booking software

Room booking software is a cornerstone of smart workplace management. Facility managers need a way to oversee and coordinate space utilization, to keep the workplace fluid, dynamic, and frictionless. Booking software creates this framework and makes it easy for employees to operate within it.

The ROI from room booking is scalable. For large companies, it might take the form of saved man hours by not wandering aimlessly to find a space. For smaller companies, it could manifest as bottom-line savings by controlling occupancy rates and costs. This software creates efficiency, which naturally results in ROI for businesses of all sizes.

3. Live-mode software

It’s important to test and analyze changes before making them in the workplace. Sudden changes could jar employees or create inefficiencies instead of solving them. It’s why facility managers turn to live-mode analysis for orchestrating workplace improvements. Not only does this perpetuate a data-driven response to workplace improvements, it allows for modeling and testing in a controlled environment.

The ROI of live-mode testing manifests in both top- and bottom-line efficiency. At the top line, there’s opportunity to create new productivity through more efficient workplace configurations. For the bottom line, eliminating inefficiencies generates saved costs. Live-mode planning is a smart workplace approach to making changes.

4. AutoCAD and BIM

Building modeling is becoming more and more important as facilities become more complex. To capitalize on GIS data, companies need a spatial representation of the building to match it against. Modeling through AutoCAD and BIM contextualizes the workplace for everything from digital twins to room booking software.

These software investments are the definition of enabling a smart workplace. They’re instrumental in mirroring the physical workplace in a digital space, to promote everything from better oversight to smarter innovation. The ROI benefits are limitless—or at least as diverse as the applications you’re able to integrate into CAD- and BIM-rendered versions of the building.

5. Access control

Access control is a defensive investment in smart workplace tech—and one many companies have already made. Paired with a digital twin and a beacon system, there’s even more untapped potential for access control that companies can leverage into ROI.

The biggest cost saving opportunity is avoiding a worst-case scenario—keep someone with malintent out of sensitives areas. Stolen IP or an attack on employees will end with huge liability costs. Access control offers ROI simply by avoiding these situations. In a more active contribution to ROI, it’s also important to consider the data generated by badging and access stats. It becomes easy to see and remedy accessibility problems by looking at smart badging data in the context of a digital twin or smart floor plan.

A smart step toward building intelligence

Used correctly, smart technologies lead to building intelligence. By themselves, these technologies can offer automation and insights, but it takes a commitment to innovation to realize their biggest benefits. As buildings become smarter, companies that look for ways to push the envelope using smart tech will find themselves operating workplaces that are efficient, productive, and adaptable.

Keep reading: How Can Smart Space Planning Software Improve Workplaces?


What Are Smart Workplace Solutions?

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

The concept of a smart workplace is easy enough to understand. It’s one that uses technology to make the lives of employees simpler and to improve the productivity and efficiency of the business. But what are smart workplace solutions, really? Solutions imply outcomes from the technology, which means looking closer at how it specifically benefits those using it. Think about it from a benefit vs. feature standpoint. How does the smart office yield improvements?

Understanding smart workplace solutions is the easiest way to close the gap between an investment in smart technologies and the ROI that justifies them. Here’s a look at some of the workplace solutions smart technologies enable.

Wayfinding, room booking, and reservations

On campuses or in large office buildings, it can be difficult to navigate. Whether it’s your first time there or you’re looking for a particular space, you need to know the best way to get to where you’re going. In a smart workplace, the solution is wayfinding software—as well as room booking and reservation software. These smart workplace solutions bridge the gap between need and solution, to make the workplace more accessible.

Malik needs a six-person workspace in Building F. He books a room using the company’s reservation system, then taps the wayfinding icon for quick directions. For added convenience, he can also calendar the reservation and directions straight to the meeting invitees. It’s an efficient solution that saves time and frustration.

This simple convenience makes the workplace more accessible and gives employees the confidence to navigate it fluidly.

Floor plan design and optimization

As workplaces continue to evolve, smart workplace management will play a bigger role in shaping the space employees need. Understanding the types of workspaces that support your employees best comes from breaking down the data provided by smart workplace tech to derive meaningful conclusions.

Leanne compiles desk booking information from the last six months. She realizes that collaborative spaces that accommodate four people are the most popular, while spaces meant for eight people see almost no use. She uses this data to reconfigure the workplace to include more four-person spaces and fewer eight-person spaces. Workspace utilization increases, according to data three months later.

Here, a data-driven approach to floor plan design and optimization ensures everyone has the right space to work.

Asset maintenance and management

Smart technologies are hugely beneficial for asset monitoring and maintenance. The ability to manage assets via a digital twin software or glean quantifiable insights from an integrated smart sensor provides facility professionals with a wide range of opportunities for improvement. Often, it’s these opportunities that transform the workplace from a smart one to an intelligent one.

Lorenzo is head of the maintenance department. He needs to provide an annual budget to the CFO, complete with any capital expenses the business should anticipate. He looks through digital twin data and finds that the rate of service calls on the roof stack heating system have gone up year over year. He also sees that the unit is eight years past its anticipated service life. He contacts a vendor for a replacement estimate, to budget accordingly.

From capital systems to smaller investments, access to data from the smart office provides a foundation for understanding the lifespan, ROI, cost of ownership, and service record of assets.

Energy efficiency and sustainability

At a time when the Triple Bottom Line is becoming more important to businesses, sustainability initiatives are on the rise. Digital workplace solutions provide the backdrop for investment in these initiatives.

XYZ Company installs rooftop solar panels. Smart sensors calculate how many kilowatts the panels generate on average each day. That data helps offset carbon energy costs, which the company can include in its annual shareholder report. It also qualifies the company for green energy tax deductions, based on the amount of power generated.

In this situation, a smart workplace solution (the shift to green energy) results in multiple benefits for the company, shareholders, and the environment. They’re justifiable and quantifiable by the smart systems that power them.

Smart systems pave the way for smart solutions

Smart workplace solutions bridge the gap between technologies and outcomes. Companies need to find ways to use the data generated by smart workplace tech to improve processes and create better outcomes. This could be as simple as using motion sensors to show room occupancy. Or, it might be as complex as observing GIS data to understand the true cost per square foot of a workplace—and if it’s justified.

There’s a whole world of smart building tech out there, but it’s useless unless applied correctly. Facility managers need to focus on solutions-driven investments as they enhance the workplace. Results beget more confidence about smart buildings, which leads to further investments and future innovation.

Keep reading: The Top Challenges for Creating Smart Buildings


Eight Major Benefits of Smart Buildings (and How to Capitalize on Them)

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

Building intelligence has grown at a rapid pace over the past few years. Beyond the aftermarket sensors and beacons of an ever-expanding IoT, more and more buildings are built smart, bridging the gap between physical and digital. It’s easy to see why. The benefits of smart buildings are numerous, and companies are quickly learning how to harness smart tech into better insights and decision-making for facility operations.

For companies new to the idea of smart buildings or building out a small IoT network of devices, it’s worth understanding the scope of opportunity affiliated with smart buildings. Intelligent technologies enable insights that are becoming increasingly important for companies governing agile workspaces, a flexible workforce, and increasing demands for space versatility.

What is a smart building?

A smart building is one that generates data about itself and how it’s used. Typically, this occurs via the Internet of Things (IoT). Networked IoT sensors turn physical workplace action into digital data, which facility managers can use to make accurate insights about the physical workplace. As a simple example, a pressure sensor in the floor of a conference room can show when that room is occupied. This generates data for real-time insights as well as information about how often it’s used, for how long, and whether the ROI of the space makes sense.

Smart buildings operate on a scale. Sometimes, it’s just a few sensors that provide targeted facility data. Other times, it’s a wide web of IoT devices that paint a complete digital picture of facilities. Regardless of size, the purpose of a smart building is to provide digital data about the physical application of a building and everything that happens within it.

Eight major benefits of smart buildings

The benefits of smart buildings come from the data-generating systems that power them. It’s much easier to understand facilities when there’s data to inform how people use them. Moreover, this works in reverse—it’s easier to manage facilities when you understand them. Here’s a look at some of the benefits of smart buildings and why they’re so important:

  1. Automation opportunities. The more links there are between the physical workplace and digital management systems, the broader the opportunities for automation. Motion sensitive lights. Floor sensors for occupancy. Beacons to gauge workspace utilization. The IoT triggers powerful automations for a wide assortment of applications.
  2. Quantifiable building insights. Each data point generated by the IoT is a quantifiable part of the tangible workplace. That means understanding more about how the workplace functions—who’s using it, how they’re using it, and when they’re using it. Data points add up to trends, which add up to actionable insights.
  3. Predictive maintenance. Through digital twins and similar technologies, buildings and workplaces become managed assets. It’s possible to engage in proactive maintenance and asset upkeep to ensure maximum ROI from these investments. Preventive maintenance becomes a core function of facility upkeep, powered by insights from the IoT.
  4. Better resource utilization. Consider the resources of the workplace. Space. Manpower. Technology. Smart buildings take these resources and quantify them within the context of broader facilities. The result is a better understanding of how people use those resources and information about how to make them more accessible or available.
  5. Reduced energy consumption. A product of automation and quantifiable building insights, green initiatives become simpler through smart buildings. Whether it’s motion-sensitive lighting or better HVAC management through a sensor-controlled system, lower energy costs benefit businesses and the environment.
  6. Real-time building insights. In workspaces with agile desking concepts, real-time insights are paramount. Good governance of these spaces relies on data to see what’s occupied vs. open and what the current status of a workspace is. Smart buildings offer the power to see the workplace as it is in a given moment. It goes beyond workspace occupancy, too. Real time insights extend to every digital representation of the physical building.
  7. Reduced operational costs. Why make the investment in the IoT? For most companies, it’s about ROI. The insights generated by a smart building need to add up to cost savings through better decision-making. If you can use data from X to make Y conclusion that save $Z, there’s power in leveraging smart building technologies.
  8. New workplace opportunities. In the new age of evolving work styles, change in the workplace is unavoidable. As flex work and agile workspaces become the new norm, there’s demand for systems to help manage them. This oversight is much easier by smart networks and systems that generate data to support the new workplace and its utilization.

The key takeaway here is data. Data about previously unquantified systems that sheds light on how the physical workplace operates. These insights lead to more meaningful management, both in terms of space and operations. Smart buildings and the IoT have opened the door to better use of buildings, no matter the purpose.

The office: the final corporate data frontier

The benefits of implementing a smart building plan are virtually boundless. There are as many opportunities to benefit as there are avenues to integrate software, processes, workflows, and reporting systems, and to use the information a smart building provides. This information is imperative in adapting the workplace to real-time demands.

As buildings get smarter, they open the door to better workplace agility. Whether your facilities are inherently smart or you’ve augmented them with a growing IoT network, harnessing the power of facilities information leads to better decision-making and more streamlined operations. Every data point counts, and every data point is useful.

Keep reading: The Top Challenges for Creating Smart Buildings


Eight Benefits of IWMS for Smart Building Management

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

Today’s workplaces operate under the governance of dozens of different devices, programs, and pieces of software. The growing web of IoT devices and their signals helps businesses run efficiently—from the ability to book hot desks to building energy efficiency controls. More and more, companies are tying these many programs into an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). The benefits of IWMS are too great to ignore and too beneficial to overlook.

As a business’ web of essential technologies grows—and its operations become more sophisticated—the IWMS acts as an anchor. It centralizes all the digital operations of the workplace and makes it easy for systems to communicate with each other. The result is what we get when we think of smart buildings: facilities that intuitively support the work that happens in them.

What is IWMS?

An IWMS is, in a sense, an aggregator. It’s a dashboard-based system that pulls information and data from various sources, to provide a clean look at a company’s facilities. This encompasses five core areas of focus (typically):

  • Real estate management
  • Capital project management
  • Facilities management
  • Maintenance management
  • Sustainability initiatives

In smart buildings with robust IoT networks, the IWMS becomes even more powerful. Rather than relying on user input or manual entry data, the IWMS pulls from as many inputs as there are data-generating sources. The result is a clear, real-time, comprehensive look at the many aspects of business operation.

The benefits of implementing an IWMS system

What are the benefits of an integrated workplace management system (IWMS)? Here’s a look at eight of the most important and their role in smart building management:

  1. Simplifies the IoT. The IWMS aggregates IoT data into a dashboard for meaningful insights. This not only de-silos critical workplace data, it also contextualizes that data in regard to the five core areas of operational focus. IoT data has meaning in an IWMS, which lends itself to powerful insights and better decision-making.
  2. Integrates digital processes. As the web of connected business technologies grows, IWMS centralizes the information it yields. IWMS can connect everything from a fleet of data-generating IoT devices, to a hoteling management platform, to processes for support ticketing.
  3. Highlight efficiency opportunities. Because everything flows through the IWMS, there’s data and metrics to support better facility oversight. Facility managers can identify trends, problems, or projections to understand opportunities for improvement. This, without needing to comb multiple different programs or datasets.
  4. Helps manage costs. One of the most important functions of an IWMS in a smart building is attaching fixed costs to dynamic action. For example, if you know how much a kilowatt hour costs, lighting sensors can show you how much you’re paying (and saving) through smarter operation.
  5. Streamlines new initiatives. Smart buildings are dynamic. Their needs and uses change frequently, which makes it important to chart these new initiatives in a system that tracks and manages the many measurable aspects of facilities. IWMS takes the information from a smart building and makes it easier to apply to action and new initiatives.
  6. Provides insightful reporting. As mentioned, IWMS is a dashboard. It provides vital operational insights at a glance—insights made more accurate and informative by smart building technologies. While the IoT quantifies the physical workplace, IWMS aggregates that data to qualify aspects of its operation.
  7. Improves business transparency. The more accessible information stakeholders can access about facilities and operations, the more transparency there is in managing them. Clear and present data in an IWMS provides a clear and present call to action for how to manage facilities and the people within them.
  8. Keeps companies compliant. From occupancy standards to emergency preparedness, companies need to stay compliant with worker safety mandates. Access to digital floor plans, scenarios, and workplace data in an IWMS delivers the insights necessary to maintain compliance.

IWMS software provides context for smart building management. The office IoT, digital twin, and integrated software all connect with the IWMS to create real value. Facility managers can collect data, sync processes, understand the workplace better, and take meaningful steps to improve it. The IWMS harnesses building management into one central system.

Smart buildings need smart management

The smarter a building is, the more support it’s able to provide to employees and operations. But that intelligence demands more oversight. An IWMS is a facility manager’s best opportunity to harness the complex processes associated with intelligent buildings and make sure they result in meaningful contributions to the workplace. From desk booking to climate control, support ticketing to vendor management, an IWMS makes managing smart buildings simple.

Keep reading: What is a Smart IWMS and What are its Features?