Space and rooms are central elements to our ability to work. We can take space for granted yet we often have very little information about it. Whilst building design often places restrooms near lifts and stairwells, sometimes their location isn’t entirely obvious, and this is where floor plan signage comes in.
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The added value of floor plans
Floor plans are very effective when they show a building map using minimum text and colour. We can learn here from the maps of ancient Egyptian or Greek temples where the construction elements are shown simply as thick black lines and columns. White background clearly represents the corridors and central halls of the temple.
Most people are visually oriented and can judge distances or spaces better when a map is available. That’s why it is commonplace to hang floor plans showing evacuation instructions on walls in logical places; in an emergency, people can more easily find the exits and vital items such as fire extinguishers.
Maps with CAD and BIM software
For this same reason, a Facility or Space Manager will maintain a set of drawings that are updated when changes occur. Whilst in older buildings, drawings might be stored folded up in the cupboard, in modern buildings they are increasingly available in Computer Aided Design (CAD) or even Building Information Modelling (BIM) software.
Such floor plans are also relevant in an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). In space management, importing your CAD drawings into one database makes it easier to visualise floor plans and to calculate floor areas. In addition, categorising spaces, for example, as a meeting room or a collaborative workspace, provides better insight into the types of rooms and space in your organisation.
Floor plans in CAD and BIM software can also be used to provide a better overview of the space occupancy of a building and this can help Facility and Space Managers to improve the internal service they offer.
Efficiency through integration
You can also use real-time space data in everyday working. By measuring real-time space occupancy, for example, displaying available and non-available space as a floor plan on a kiosk or large screen, you create visibility of space, thus allowing employees to find a space or meeting room that suits their immediate needs. This in turn increases efficiently by reducing the search time.
Sensors can play a real-time role in tracking and monitoring spaces and occupancy. Imagine a scenario where you can see in real-time that a restroom is out of action for maintenance, for a repair or deep-clean. Smart software can let you know that there is car space free, a room free, or capacity coming up in the next hour, saving you valuable time. Just as a real-time traffic monitoring system can help you to avoid traffic jams on the roads, the future for the workplace is to use smart technology to work smarter.