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Smart Workplace Technology: How to achieve quick wins and long-term gains

Across the globe, societies are emerging from the biggest disruption in living memory. The world of work had to adapt rapidly during the pandemic. Workplace and facilities, IT and HR professionals have been kept extremely busy!

However, as the dust begins to settle, we still need to face the ever-present challenges: rising real estate costs, constrained budgets, and now, more than ever, the risk of disengaged employees. Now is the time to formulate our longer-term strategies for this ‘new’ world.

And this means you need to make some tough priority calls around where to invest the time and resource that you have available to you. So where should you start?

A customer-centric approach

The most successful businesses begin by looking at the world through their customers’ eyes. If we apply this customer-centric approach to the workplace, then we should try to look at the workplace through the eyes of our building users. Our colleagues. Our company’s most valuable assets.

Studies have shown that environmental factors such as air quality and light are the biggest influencers of employee performance, happiness, and wellbeing. In fact, research by the World Green Building Council found an 11% increase in employee productivity because of increased fresh air to the workstation and a reduction in pollutants.

So, if we can measure the environmental quality of the workspaces in our building, we can understand the steps we need to take to make improvements and increase the wellbeing and productivity of our people.

This all sounds good, but many workplace professionals find that kicking off such an initiative can be daunting. The technology landscape is complex. A Google search for ‘workplace environment analytics’ delivers about 72 million results! There are thousands of IoT sensor vendors to choose from.

Quick wins vs long-term gains

We can jump in and select a dedicated ‘point solution’ for environmental monitoring. We can install it and very quickly start to gain insights that enable us to reconfigure and/or repurpose our spaces to improve building user experience. But what happens when we want to take things to the next level? For example, imagine that we would like to gather solid data on how much our spaces are used, to achieve cost savings and boost efficiency.

If the vendor that supplied our environmental sensors cannot also supply occupancy sensors, then we will need to buy another sensoring system – one that probably connects to a different IoT cloud platform. We could use these two systems to find relationships between utilisation and environmental quality, but we would need time and expertise to combine the data from the two independent systems.

Now imagine that our boss hears about our new occupancy sensors and starts to think about the number of empty meeting rooms she walks past every day. ‘Every time I try to book a meeting room, the calendar shows that none are available, yet when I walk past them, they are all empty!’ she exclaims. ‘Can we connect these occupancy sensors to our room booking system, and automatically cancel reservations when people don’t show up?’

So, we ask the IT team to look. ‘There is no automatic way to do this…but we could develop a custom solution,’ they say. ‘We’ll assign it to our new intern.’

Now imagine the operations director can see a way to save cleaning costs – ‘why are we paying the cleaning contractor to clean rooms that haven’t been used? Can we use the utilisation data as input for their cleaning schedule?’ So, IT implements a custom daily report on desk and room usage that can be used by the cleaning staff.

So now we have two separate IoT platforms and a manual spreadsheet-based process to combine environmental and occupancy data. We have a custom-made integration between our occupancy sensors and our room booking calendar. We have a bespoke scheduled report for our cleaning management system. This is quite a plate of spaghetti!

The benefits of an open platform strategy

This is where the Planon open platform approach can help. Not only do we offer everything you need to manage traditional FM processes, but we make it easy to roll out smart sensor technology consistently across the globe.

Planon Workplace Insights connects with any IoT platform to display information from environmental and occupancy sensor data in an easy-to-understand way so you can quickly derive actionable insights.

We recognise that each organisation is in a unique position along the growth path towards the engaging workplace. With our platform approach we support you whichever stage you’re at and also integrate existing point solutions if that is what suits your current needs.

Working with Planon you can connect a single building, through to your entire global portfolio into our single platform. Then, you can easily add additional out-of-the-box facilities management processes and employee engagement functions. The work of integrating these functions and processes is all taken care of – so you can focus on your day job.

Is your organisation already equipped with the right smart workplace technology? With the surge of PropTech and the focus on return-to-office and hybrid work strategies, there is no shortage of options in the market today. But, how do you navigate this complex landscape and make the right choice for your organisation? Watch this webinar which will support you with a best practice growth path to ensure your workplace IT investments deliver sustainable, long term value for your facilities operations.

About the author

Richard Bellairs | Solution Product Marketeer

With over 25 years of experience across a wide range of industries, Richard held electronics and software engineering positions at technology companies before moving to product management and product marketing. He now contributes to the development and promotion of Planon’s smart workplace proposition. Richard has a degree in electronic engineering from the University of Sheffield, and a professional diploma in marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

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