How Real-Time Data is Revolutionizing Workplace Design 

A closer look into the role IoT is playing in workplace design and how businesses are already benefiting from it.

Whether we realize it or not, technology influences just about every decision we make. Over the past few years, we’ve seen technologies evolve to the point that our personal devices are now integral parts of our daily routines. Big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) have created a barrier-free and connected world, but these advancements have largely occupied the consumer space, not the workplace.

Not anymore. The modern-day office is becoming a smart workplace, as new technologies are using sensors to provide unbiased data to help businesses understand their current workplace needs, reduce complexities and plan for the future. With the evolution of IoT in the workplace, businesses have never been so empowered to make informed decisions based on objective data regarding their furniture, real estate and arguably their most important asset – their people – to get the most out of their investments.

Here’s a closer look into the role IoT is playing in workplace design and how businesses are already benefiting.

Introducing IoT

As the modern workplace has evolved, progressive enterprises have invested in emerging technologies to better understand their space. Among these technologies on the market are new IoT platforms that use minimal footprint wireless sensors to acquire and analyze real-time data – including space utilization, utility and asset usage. These platforms then use the results to provide custom solutions for businesses to understand how current and shared spaces are being used, while providing clear insights into opportunities to cut costs.

Installing and implementing these platforms is also simple when managed correctly. Often when employees hear words like “sensors,” “IoT’ or “AI,” it conjures fears of being monitored, or the inconvenience of having to learn a new technology. The reality is these platforms can be implemented with little to no change to daily routines, usually only requiring employees to wear a badge around the office to show collaboration patterns and create efficiencies.

Understanding A Need

You may think you already have a clear understanding of your workplace operations, but IoT can provide insights the human eye simply can’t. When it comes to optimizing a workplace, understandably, a lot of the focus should be put on the people working in it. Research into the modern workplace indicates that not only is there a problem with employee engagement and satisfaction, but it’s costly. According to Gallup:

  • Only 32 percent of workers feel engaged at their jobs
  • Actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. up to $605 billion each year in lost production
  • Happy workers are 12 percent more productive than the average worker and unhappy workers are 10 percent less productive
  • Companies with happy employees outperform their competition by 20 percent, earn 1.2 – 1.7 percent more than their peer firms and are 2.1 percent above industry benchmarks

In addition to the need for staff to feel engaged, businesses need to be cognizant of how these employees operate within a space to maximize efficiencies. A Deloitte study indicates the average modern workplace only utilizes 60 percent of its available space, which means any unused area and assets – including furniture, fixtures and equipment – can be a significant and unnecessary expense to a business.

Data-Driven Design

This is where the measurable data comes into play. When it comes to job satisfaction and productivity, proximity is everything. Employees who feel heard, included and appreciated in a process tend to feel satisfied with their work, and as a result, are generally more willing to collaborate with colleagues. This is why it’s crucial to have a setup that encourages collaboration by keeping interacting team members in close proximity. Businesses using sensors to monitor employee activity can understand where employees spend their time and who they spend it with. With objective and unbiased results, they can make confident decisions to adjust their existing workplace setup, a stark contrast from using old methods like employee surveys.

These results will also provide hard data on which spaces and assets – from conference rooms to workstations – are being utilized and how. With findings that show the areas with the most activity, as well as which furniture is being used and when, businesses can allocate resources towards what’s most important and adjust their daily practices accordingly. According to a Senion survey, an estimated 60 percent of office workers spend an excessive amount of time searching for available conference rooms. If results indicate large conference rooms are often occupied by smaller groups of employees, schedules and booking practices can be changed to drastically cut down lost time spent looking for meeting space.

How well do you understand your real estate? Commercial assets are the second-largest expense for most businesses, and as needs change, many will either expand or downsize these assets. Businesses now have tools that weren’t available just a few years ago to understand the true occupancy of their space. If data indicates a large percentage of an office is underutilized, maybe it’s time to reduce your footprint and downsize. Businesses can also take advantage of the nationwide coworking trend by making their space available to remote workers and earning additional revenue in the process.

A Connected Workplace

The workplace is constantly evolving, and technology is evolving with it. Now more than ever, businesses have the ability to make confident, data-based decisions for how to allocate resources. To maximize efficiencies, businesses need to truly understand how their employees work. The age of employee surveys is behind us. Through analytics, businesses can now truly connect their people, understand existing assets and optimize spend to create a frictionless workplace experience.

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