You may not think of the restroom as the most wanted space in a building. But, you’d probably change your answer very quickly if the need to go was high. In fact, restrooms are typically the first space that visitors ask for when they enter a new building. In offices, restrooms are usually clearly marked, easy to find, and often close to all vertical traffic such as elevators and stairwells. But, in other types of buildings, this is not always the case. In those situations, the next best thing for visitors to look for is a building directory or map of the floor plan.
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The added value of floor plans
Floor plans are very effective if they are able to show how a building fits together by using as little text and as few colors as possible. The maps of ancient Egyptian or Greek temples show the construction elements as simply thick black lines and columns. The white background clearly represents the available corridors and central halls of the temple.
Most people are visually oriented and can better estimate distances or spaces if a map is available. It is therefore commonplace that evacuation plans are printed on floor plans and that they hang on the wall in the most logical places in a building. In an emergency, people can easily find the exits and important items such as fire extinguishers.
Maps with CAD and BIM software
Because maps of the floor plan are critical in the case of emergencies, it is imperative that Facility and Space Managers have a set of drawings that are continuously updated when changes occur. However, in older buildings, these floorplans are often folded up in the cupboard, stored away, or misplaced. But, the introduction of technologies such as Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) software are changing the game as they become more widely adopted. With these technologies, facility managers and space planners can update, review, and share floor plans in a digital manner.
These floor plans also come in handy when using an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). In the field of space management, importing your CAD drawings into one database makes it easier to visualize floor plans and to calculate floor areas. In addition, categorizing spaces, for example as a 'meeting room' or 'concentration room', gives a better insight into which type of rooms your organization owns and which it does not.
Floor plans in CAD and BIM software can also be used to provide a better overview of the space occupancy of a building. This helps Facility and Space Managers to get better insights into this space occupation.
Efficiency through integration
You can also use your spaces data for other processes. By measuring real-time space occupancy, for example with the help of a kiosk solution, you can visualize available spaces. This allows employees to find a work or meeting room that suits their needs in real time. As a result, employees spend less time finding a suitable space and can spend their time more efficiently.
Similarly, it can be just as simple for visitors to find restrooms using a kiosk solution. However, thinking one step further, how inconvenient is it to arrive to a restroom but find that the “Cleaning in Progress” sign is up, or all the stalls are occupied. If there were multiple restrooms in the building, it could helpful to also have a visualization on the kiosk to show which restrooms were free for use.
In order to achieve these benefits, there must be one source in which changes are made, after which all floor plans are updated. With the help of sensors you can measure how crowded rooms are, or in this case, how crowded restrooms are, and process this information via an IWMS and make it transparent. With even smarter software you will be led to an alternative space, just like the navigation on the road at traffic jams. And I can tell you that this can be very useful if you want to visit a toilet in case of a high emergency!