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How sensor-based technologies are enabling better space planning within the workplace

In 2019, working in an office no longer means being stuck at your desk for eight hours per day. Mobile technologies have transformed the workplace and, with it, expanded employees’ ability to work from just about anywhere. The tools which make this possible range from video conferencing software and group chat tools to the kind of massive cloud storage that makes it easy to remotely share and access files.

Many of these changes have been for the better — and can result in productivity boosts for employees as a result. But there are challenges too: particularly for those in charge of allocating seating or otherwise controlling office space. Just because every seat in an office is technically accounted for doesn’t mean that it is fully utilized eight hours a day. The results can be wasted or underutilized space; potentially resulting in unnecessary real estate costs incurred for your business.

Movement tracking, thermal tracking and more

Fortunately, there are solutions that can help provide the data to more efficiently manage your office space. Smart tech such as occupancy sensors are useful for helping to gauge usage of your office space so that you can keep tabs on what’s really happening within the four walls of your workplace.

Like virtually every other smart sensor, occupancy sensors have decreased in both size and cost in recent years. Something which once seemed an unaffordable Star Trek-style dream is now readily available for workspaces everywhere. Occupancy sensors can vary in their underlying technology, but all seek to do the same thing: to track the presence or absence of individuals within a certain space. These sensors use approaches ranging from movement tracking to thermal tracking, while related environmental sensors are able to help monitor factors such as noise. These tools can be quickly and easily installed in places such as under desks, in ceilings, or even embedded into walls. The low-cost sensors will then feed accurate data back in either real-time or at regular intervals, meaning that whoever is in charge of organizing an office space can gauge usage levels.

Such sensors can help save you money in a number of ways. For example, they can be linked to automatic lights or temperature gauges, which turn off and on — or otherwise adjust themselves — according to the presence of an individual. These energy-saving techniques can reduce your costs running an office space.

Structure your office smarter

These sensors can also help you manage your office space in more profound ways, however. By monitoring workspace occupancy, you can build up a picture of how the office space is actually used; not just how you planned it to be used. It could be, for instance, that the presence of occupancy sensors in one of your conference rooms reveals that this space is not used as much, or by as many people, as you predicted. Since a conference room might represent a large space in a prominent position within your office, such a discovery could reveal to you that this would be better suited as a home for additional desks — while conference meetings could be held in smaller rooms or even off-site altogether.

You can also discover the answers to the type of questions which are not easily answerable by simply looking at your number of employees. What is the maximum number of workspaces that are in use at the busiest point in the day or week? What’s the average number of desks used on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? All of these are important data points which can help inform, manage and dictate your seating allocation strategy. 

A seating system that works for you

Of course, gathering the right data is one thing; knowing what to do with it is another entirely. POC’s Seating Allocation System aims to not just keep track of where everyone sits in your workspace, but also to present ways of optimizing your office environment — ensuring that it is as efficiently run as possible. 

To do this, it visualizes the office environment, including desks, cubicles, conference rooms and more. Beyond showing the office as it is, however, you can also visualize the office as it could be. That’s possible using smart seating simulations that allow you to locate unutilized and underutilized space and restructure the office to avoid this. 

The software is designed to function as a kind of “living document,” in which you’re free to make near endless changes to make sure that the space is working for you as best it can. 

Whether you’re looking to simply respond to day-to-day changes or carry out a full re-org process, this is the ultimate tool for the truly smart office. Combined with the kind of data occupancy sensors that can provide, it will reduce unnecessary guesswork and make sure your office space management is as efficient as it can be. Welcome to the future!

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