Why smart offices matter
Smart buildings use advanced technologies to improve their functionality, efficiency, and overall performance. Such buildings are not necessarily office buildings but may be as diverse as museums and sports centers.
Smart offices are workspaces that leverage modern technology to create an intelligent and efficient workplace. These spaces are designed to optimize the use of resources, boost productivity, and enhance the overall work experience for employees. Smart offices use a combination of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as sensors, and automation to create a connected and integrated environment.
The changes in working patterns spurred by the pandemic—which accelerated employers’ embrace of hybrid working models—mean that previously commonplace in-office services and amenities may no longer make economic sense. In some instances, specific practices, such as lights left on in empty office buildings, may be viewed as downright wasteful, a potential reputational risk for companies focusing on sustainability.
But managing lighting, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) in office buildings is not just about ESG optics; the cost savings from matching system performance to actual needs are potentially huge.
Lights out, savings on
Between lighting, HVAC, and other electric systems, office buildings consume impressive amounts of energy and are a significant source of carbon dioxide emissions. The costs of running those systems fluctuate in line with energy prices and the energy matrix of a country or region, an issue that can come into sharp relief during periods of changes in supply.
Optimizing resource usage by matching system use to the actual needs of visitors can reduce energy consumption, which lowers greenhouse gas emissions and improves sustainability. Managing costs and supporting sustainability initiatives may be the most easily recognizable goals of smart buildings, but the direct and indirect benefits are more far-reaching.
Improving employee well-being by monitoring air quality or workspace layout can go a long way in boosting productivity and employee satisfaction. Many workers with the flexibility to work outside the the office prefer the hybrid work model (around half, according to some surveys), but the physical office space still offers vital social and team-strengthening benefits that are difficult to achieve over Teams.
Curating communal workspaces that balance the needs of property owners, employers and workers can be a challenge, but an achievable goal with the right set of tools. Measuring utilization of office space—timing and occupancy of desks, offices, and meeting rooms—is an important practice for property owners and employers trying to right size the physical office spaces they make available to staff.
Why are sensors important for smart offices
Increasing the intelligence of workspaces can be achieved through different means, depending on objectives.
Sensors, some elementary motion-detection style units, have been used to better manage costs and operations in building spaces for years. The sophistication of a new generation of AI-powered 3D sensors, and associated analytics platforms, have expanded the scope of insights and applications achievable in an office space setting.
With more fluid in-office schedules, employers and workers need real-time information about meeting rooms, offices, desks, and even canteen seating occupancy.
Shared desks and workplaces are now commonplace at corporate offices and universities. With real-time data, visitors can immediately find appropriate available space on an app or platform, and property owners can limit open space to actual demand. A time-efficient option for visitors is also cost-effective for property managers, as lighting systems and janitorial services are required only in the case of use.
When accurately collected, the data can be fed into various automated systems—office space reservations, lighting, HVAC, and window shading technologies, to name a few—and used by employers and building managers to support fact-based decision-making.
What about data privacy concerns in smart offices?
Sensors, controls and other IoT devices are accelerating the commercial real estate sector’s embrace of smart building strategies that reduce waste and promote employee well-being. The movement is part of a broader trend to improve the efficiency of multiple interlinking systems, creating smart cities that run based on the observable patterns of the populace.
That those gains should not come at the expense of residents’ or visitors’ privacy is a position shared by many observers. The contours of that debate will continue to evolve, but companies investing in smart building solutions already realize that solutions designed to keep pace with changes in compliance standards are a smart bet.
Adjustable privacy settings that ensure full compliance with evolving GDPR standards in various jurisdictions is one of the many factors that set Xovis sensors apart from other data capture devices supporting the smart buildings movement.
Tags: | smart buildings | occupancy | people flow | sensors | data privacy | smart offices