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

On most continents the pandemic is largely behind us, but we still live in a very uncertain world, increasingly affected by climate change, high inflation and skills shortages. All of this disrupts our way of living and the way we work. It teaches us to not take things for granted, and makes us realize the importance of a purposeful, meaningful work experience.

Additionally, 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.

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

An employee-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.

Studies have shown that environmental factors such as air quality and light are the biggest influencers of employee performance, happiness, and well-being. 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 well-being 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!

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 utilization 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.”

Our operations director now also comes in and sees 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 utilization 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 custom 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 all your rooms and buildings across the globe.

Planon Workplace Insights connects with any platform to display information from environmental and occupancy sensor data in an easy-to-understand way so you can quickly derive actionable insights. Planon Workplace Insights may also be added to Planon’s Integrated Workplace Management Solution (IWMS).

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

Is your organization already equipped with the right smart workplace technology? Or are you wondering how to make the right choices from all the options on the market today? Read this white paper to explore the opportunities for companies adapting to hybrid working. A five-level Engaging Workplace Model guides you, step-by-step through organizing a sustainable and smart office workplace.

Image of Planon's Senior Solution Marketeer Richard Bellairs.

Richard Bellairs

Senior Solution Marketer

Richard Bellairs is a senior B2B product marketing specialist with more than 25 years of diverse industry experience. He drives go-to-market activities, provides support to our global sales teams, and fosters collaboration between our marketing and product teams.

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