Case study: Technology Company Managing Desks

A Regional Manager for Office Experience at a fast growing technology company found himself getting increasingly frustrated by the unending demands for more space but equally also by seeing the space half empty most of the time. Mark had the insight to use sensor technology to minimize the currently very expensive real estate costs and looked for data to help manage and plan prime floor space for their rapidly growing company.

He wanted hard data which would help him solve the problem of “how much space do I need?” in a less political and more objective approach. His situation was made more complex by having accrued a number of companies over the years all with their own separate real estate contracts. Both legacy leasing and new real estate plans were based on more guesswork than real data. It was particularly important to take guesswork out of occupancy as these contracts were going to impact them for the next 10 to 15 years.

OpenSensors worked with Mark’s team and Stuart Imhof from Resource At Work to specify and install two types of sensors: desk sensors and meeting room sensors. The desk sensors are passive infrared sensors (PIR) that are triggered by both motion and heat,  providing  real-time 1:1 space utilisation. Initially we did a pilot with 5 devices but currently they have over 200 desk sensors over 6 floors. Our dashboards display usage per desk and an aggregate of the usage over the floor.

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Example: key metrics for desk and meeting room occupancy

The meeting room sensors count the number of people using individual meeting rooms. OpenSensors dashboards display usage per meeting room and also per floor of usage. Now when Mark’s team gets complaints that there aren’t enough meeting rooms, they can dig into the problem and find a workable solution. After installing the meeting room sensors, the team learned that while the meeting rooms were used a lot, it was by individuals. As a direct result of this insight, they’re doing a refit and they’re adding some kind of individual space where people can make phone calls. Another thing that the team learned was that many people would book the meeting rooms but not use them leaving them unoccupied.

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Example: Desk occupancy distribution chart and under- and over utilised facilities

Negotiating with the business units

With desk sensors, he quickly identified that initial desk utilisation was 36%. With these numbers in hand, the team was able to negotiate with the business units and drive up the utilisation. Mark noted that the data from the sensors helped align the business unit leaders’ goals and costs resulting in better space utilisation without additional cost.

Refit plans

The sensors not only enabled better management of space planning, but provided Mark and the facilities team knowledge to develop a needs-based refit plan. Based on meeting room usage, the team was able to add more individual space and free up meeting rooms for large groups.

Sensor deployment process

Initially deployment planning starts with CAD drawings, location data and floor information from the client. From there, we start making decisions about gateway placements and also tying the sensor IDs to the drawings.

Next our installation and maintenance partner, Stuart Imhof from Resource At Work, and OpenSensors, visit the client’s site for a site assessment where we put up the gateways, and test for signal quality on a floor-by-floor basis. During the site assessment, we walk the perimeter of the buildings, ensuring that we have strong signal strength.

Prior to deployment, we do as much prep ahead of time as is possible, so that when we arrive on site, the sensors are turned on, installed and we can quickly identify if the sensor has successfully joined the network. Our aim is to have very little configuration on site, in order to ensure the least disruption to employees.  For more information on our deployment processes, check out our recent blogpost where our Project Manager, Kevin Mugadza, shares his experiences.

Impact

Overall, OpenSensors and Resources at Work have been successful partners for Mark and his team, enabling them to improve and fully understand space planning management. The OpenSensors space occupancy dashboards allow the team to streamline their work and ensure support for all business units.

 

Why Office Buildings Should Run Like Spaceships

Yodit Stanton quoted in Oct-8-2017 WSJ Article “Why Office Buildings Should Run Like Spaceships”

There have been several articles in the press about sensors used to create a workplace characterized by pervasive monitoring, turning it into a panopticon, a prison where every resident’s activities are subject to surveillance. That is certainly a risk, but it’s driven not by the technology per se but by how management, whether executive management or facilities management, intends to make use of the information.

None of the sensors we deploy for occupancy monitoring do more than count – whether it’s how many people are in a meeting room or if a desk is occupied. What I liked about Christopher Mims approach is that he focused on how sensors can help to make workplaces healthier and more productive for employees.

The entire article is worth reading but here are two quotes that will give you a flavor. First his opening sentence;

“If you have ever yearned to work aboard the Starship Enterprise, take comfort: The newest office buildings have more in common with spaceships than you realize.”

I think this is a much better metaphor for the likely impact of sensors on the workplace when deployed by intelligent and caring executives.

“Scientists have been trying for decades to figure out how to help humans survive long-haul missions in orbit and to Mars. They take into account light levels, temperature, humidity and dozens of other factors including working styles. The biggest difference between that research and what’s happening here on Earth is that office optimization isn’t about survival, but productivity—getting the most out of every worker.”

I would say our approach to office optimization is to enable micro-climates or neighborhoods that allow each employee–and the teams they are members of–to be more productive using evidence based design and a clear understanding of the activities they need to engage in to get their job done. Areas for people who spend a lot of writing may look different than those who spend a lot of time on the phone, and work environments that enable intense ongoing collaboration will be different still.

Over the course of any given day or week an employee may spend different amounts of time in each area. Sensors help you understand what’s being utilized and coupled with ongoing direct communication with employees will allow facilities management and executive to continue to adapt and refine the environments to improve employee health and productivity.

Read full article at https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-office-buildings-should-run-like-spaceships-1507467601

We are getting ready for MIPIM UK!

18-19 October 2017 – Olympia, London 

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Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash

If you’re coming to MIPIM UK this year, drop by and say hello. You can find us at stand B-31 where we’ll be showcasing examples of OpenSensors’ latest projects. Daniel Hummelsund, our Business Development Representative is giving a presentation on Thursday 19th on “Sensor Data and Evidence Based Design” at 11.00am in the Innovation section – so book your seat!

We’d love to show you the variety of sensors we support. Whether you are interested in measuring the environmental factors, occupancy or air quality of your space, it’s the perfect opportunity to ask us everything you ever wanted to know.

MIPIM is the leading real estate event of the year where major international real estate projects representing all segments of real estate – residential, commercial and industrial – will be showcased.

 

 

Roundup of the Best Workplace Trends Blogs

Blogs are a great way to keep up with the fast changing developments in workspaces. From sensors and software to IoT to real estate, here is a round-up of are some of our current favorite blogs:

Workplace Insight Workplace Insight is a great source of news and information about the design and management of workplaces. Mark Eltringham and his team offer interesting insights into workplace design and management issues.

Memoori Memoori provides thought provoking information and insights on smart buildings.

Dwell Magazine We love this stylish and innovative Magazine, the Workplace & Office section is a special favorite.

Here are a couple of favorite IoT and Smart Building blogs that keep us informed on the latest technology and innovation trends too;

Have a blog you think we should include? Let us know, we’d love to check it out!