Explore how workplace data will play a central role in ensuring that emerging hybrid environments are not only functional but cost-effective.
Why it pays to be efficient
As employees return to the office it is critical that Senior Leadership, HR, Corporate real estate and Facilities teams recognise the ways in which our relationship with work has been altered and adapt workplace strategies accordingly.
With hybrid work environments emerging as the dominant workplace model physical changes will need to be made to corporate spaces, and new tools and systems introduced to manage them.
As employees engage more critically with the workplace, the correct allocation of space and assets becomes a top priority. If employees are unable to access the spaces they require quickly and easily it will not only cause frustration with the system as a whole, but also impact productivity as projects hit unnecessary delays.
Furthermore, under-utilised spaces no longer solely represent a sunken cost in terms of real estate spend, but also a missed opportunity for an employee who requires a different environment to access the workplace. As such, it is vital that teams understand how their employees are using workplace assets, and have the necessary data to ensure workplaces are fit for purpose.
Striving for efficiency in these areas will both increase employee satisfaction within the workplace and enable organisations to avoid costly and unnecessary office expansions.
What data is required?
Workplaces will need to be reactive and be supported by evidence based policy. In order to achieve this Senior Leadership and HR teams will require historical and live data informing on their workplace’s occupancy.
“So whilst the hybrid working environment is consistently agreed to be more beneficial for people, it’s a much more challenging environment for the providers, and for organisations to get right”
- Yodit Stanton, CEO & Founder OpenSensors
Leveraging occupancy data gathered from sensors placed on workplace assets enables teams to make cost effective decisions in the following ways:
1 - Create fit-for-purpose workplaces
Leveraging utilisation data is central to providing employees with the most appropriate array of workplace assets. Monitoring how assets are used throughout the week enables teams to identify which areas should be repurposed, and which assets are most highly in demand.
There are numerous ways in which spaces can be repurposed, especially within hybrid environments. Hybrid environments are intended to facilitate all types of work, including remote, and as such a variety of workplace assets which promote collaboration and individual work are needed.
Meeting rooms are a common source of frustration, as spaces historically have been block-booked months in advance and then either sit empty or highly under-utilised. Comparing booking data against utilisation data enables teams to identify issues in booking protocols, and deploying counter sensors allows teams to understand which spaces out to be right-sized.
Designating office space in this manner means that more employees can access the workplace at any given time, and delays the need for office expansions as unused space is minimised.
2 - Plan mobility profiles
As workplaces move away from traditional 1:1 models systems need to be introduced to ensure that the office isn’t overcrowded with employees competing for limited spaces.
Leveraging occupancy data enables HR and Facilities teams to understand how various departments and roles are interacting with workplace assets, and therefore create mobility profiles around which policy can be written to direct access to and usage of the office.
Directing policy in this manner will ensure that occupancy rates remain constant throughout the week, and by removing periods of high occupancy and overcrowding calls for office expansions will be nullified.
Additionally, as we emerge from the COVID19 pandemic, leveraging mobility profiles will play a central role in safeguarding employee’s physical wellbeing as social distancing measures are more easily adhered to.
Efficiency in practice
OpenSensors has been engaged with a FTSE500 Health Insurance Provider in the United States since 2019.
As a not-for-profit organisation there is an organisational and cultural expectation within each department to strive for efficiency wherever possible, as any savings on expenditure can in turn be passed on to customers and members.
For members of the Corporate Real Estate (CRE) team this largely manifests itself in efforts to avoid expansions by enabling employees to work in the manner best suited to them.
Frequent complaints regarding the lack of space available for employees led the CRE team to examine their swipe-card data, which was only used upon entry and gave no indication of behaviour once inside. However, the data showed that on any given day the workplace was 50-60% occupied.
Clearly then a problem existed, as employees were struggling to find space when it was in fact there. Therefore, more granular and time-stamped data was required to identify the problem areas.
OpenSensors was engaged to monitor shared spaces and meeting rooms, and the data provided has been used to adapt the working models of employees and will play a central role in future design decisions.