Incorporating Sensor Data in Flexible Workspaces

Guest post by Kyle Pinto

Facility Managers (FMs) are tasked with bringing an organizations vision and design into practice. For those that manage and operate flexible workspaces this can be more of a challenge. The onset of the smart office provides several solutions though, with unique advantages for flexible workspaces.  

At the heart of the smart office is the Internet of Things (IoT). When we look at the components of the IoT, the areas where FM’s can make an impact become a lot more apparent. The smart office refers to the use of data and technology to automate the office environment, helping simplify and ease the daily use and operation of the workplace. The smart office could involve small, simple improvements such as automating lights to brighten and dim based on occupancy, or large scale HVAC automations.

Sensor Data in a Flexible Workspace

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McKinsey defines the Internet of Things as — sensors and actuators connected by networks to computing systems. Sensors within the office environment are a huge opportunity for Facilities Management – flexible workspace operators and managers. Data collected by these sensors and connected devices can provide real-time guidance for the FM’s decision making process, and allow for instant feedback. This data can also provide unprecedented insight into the workplace, helping FMs better understand how they can truly unlock occupant satisfaction and productivity, and organic collaboration.

The use of this data can help FMs better adapt to the new and dynamic work environment, and create high performing workspaces. For example, sensors and data can help FMs design an efficient flexible workspace.

Effective Management

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Occupants benefit from spaces that are further tailored to their needs. For example, adjustments to air quality can be made to ensure that a space is adapting based on occupancy. Similarly, temperature can be changed to ensure occupants are comfortable. With more individualized information comes the ability for facility managers to better maintain and increase employee productivity and happiness.

Wayfinding and room booking are also areas where sensor tech through IoT benefits flexible workspace occupants. Time is reduced as room booking usage or hot desking availability information can easily be accessed and navigated, saving them precious time.

Earlier this month, Jerome Chang, architect and founder of BLANKSPACES, noted that for flexible workspace design, the most profitable type of space is meeting rooms. Having a way to better manage these assets and determine utilization and also no-show rates through comprehensive data can have significant benefits for a community manager. In Unlocking Employee Productivity with Sensor Data, we dive deeper into how sensor data will change the workplace.

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Space utilization data and occupancy sensors also allow FMs to plan spaces better for occupants. FMs can create areas for casual collisions and increased interaction among occupants. Modular pieces of design in a flexible workspaces support reconfigurations and ongoing iterations of a space based on new insights. With this, sensor data can be used to tweak flexible workspaces to foster greater natural collaboration and interaction. The ability to use sensor data to increase spaces that support natural collaboration addresses an issue cited as a weak point in some flexible or coworking areas, which apps like Loop are looking to address.

More than Data

But it takes more than just data to effectively harness employee productivity. This is where Facility and Community manager day-to-day interaction and experience makes a difference. Understanding the nuances of your space and the occupants allow flexible workspace managers to effectively harness data. A mix technology with FM intuition allows for the creation and refinement of flexible workspaces that are designed to manage costs, effectively utilize space and build a strong community.

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