Workforce of the Future Starts With Today’s Technology – Buildings

Workforce of the Future Starts With Today's Technology - Buildings 2

The two biggest operational costs for most businesses are the people who do the work and the place where the work occurs. Is the space you own or lease for your business used in the most effective way for the realities of how your business operates today?

How sure are you?

Over the last 40 years, Harvard Business Review’s research has seen a back and forth between office employees wanting more privacy and less access to people and then requesting less privacy and more access to people.

Workplace trends are constantly evolving and building owners and facility managers are being tasked with a lot. What office layout will be most efficient for everyone? How can we lower energy costs? How integral should data be in decision making?

These are questions worth asking because the implications are significant.

Fortunately, with the latest building connectivity, cloud-based architectures and wireless and low-cost sensors, organizations can take advantage of a platform that provides data-driven insights to adapt the workspace they offer to meet the evolving needs of their workforce.

Data is the Driver

In the past, facility managers simply walked around offices and visually tried to get a sense of how space was being used. That didn’t work. It’s estimated that offices worldwide are approximately 50% under-utilized. Facility managers need a more comprehensive, holistic tool to be able to take action and avoid overpaying for physical space, wasting energy and other inefficiencies.

[Related topic: Submetering Best Practices for Multi-Tenant Buildings]

The right connected technology allows organizations to gather real-time data from multiple sources that, when analyzed quickly with the help of cloud computing, can empower personnel to look at their building space from an entirely different angle.

A terrific example of a complicated space harnessing the power of data to improve the experience of its employees and visitors is the London Health Sciences Centre in Ontario, Canada.  

To address under and over utilization of space to support office and clinical expansion requests, the hospital network, which has 15,000 employees, decided to implement connected building technology to learn how its 1.9 million square feet of space was actually being used.

The hospital group implemented a connected framework and thus could analyze data being collected throughout the campus. This information provided a level of insight that was not previously available, and led them to discover that overcrowding was occurring in certain areas during specific times while other spaces often went unused, enabling improved space scheduling and allocation processes.

Impacting the Bottom Line

The setup for success involves a connected framework of technology that can take the form of sensors on ceilings, walls, desks, smart lighting and more. This wide range of data-generating sources provides facility managers with more insight and more answers than they’ve ever had. This reliable, scalable and consistent source of information can help to paint a more accurate picture of office activity.

In our very own Honeywell software headquarters in Atlanta, implementing connected technology helped us learn that smaller rooms, initially meant for one to two software developers to huddle, weren’t being used. Why? What they really needed was a place for larger groups to work collaboratively.

Without this technology, those spaces would continue to sit empty. But that’s not the limit of possibilities here.

[Related: Connected Buildings Increase as Companies Prioritize Advantages]

Data can also be generated directly from occupants through mobile apps, collecting information in real time on things like traffic patterns of building occupants. For example, one of the features of Honeywell’s occupant application enables users to provide real-time feedback on the temperature of a conference room they are in by simply tapping hot or cold on a mobile app, making it easier to optimize comfort settings.

Whether it’s automatically shutting lights off as people leave an office, lowering the heat in conference rooms during certain times of day, or building more collaborative and employee-driven workspaces, organizations can make adjustments based on real data and not personal assumptions. Knowledge truly is power.

By harnessing data from your occupants’ experiences, you’ll be able to make more impactful and informed decisions.

People at the Center

Like the flip flop of employee desires, is this all just a fad? According to IoT Analytics, connected buildings are one of the top three types of IoT projects in progress globally, only behind connected industry and smart city projects. It’s no longer just about improving how buildings operate but about breaking new ground and putting the tools needed to get the most out of a building directly into the hands of those who operate them now.

What building owners and facility executives can do with connected building technology is transformative because of the impact it has on people. The key will be implementing the right building platform. By harnessing and analyzing information from the right building platform, we no longer have to develop and maintain spaces based on our assumptions but on data-supported realities.

Smart decisions about space can be made to help obtain and retain top talent, maximize your employees’ productivity, and ultimately ensure they’re satisfied and happy when they come into work each day.

Mark Verheyden is the president of Honeywell Building Solutions.

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