Everything we used to know about the office has changed. The very purpose of an office is up for discussion now that productivity is no longer measured by hours onsite. Some teams can operate almost entirely remotely while others prefer the benefits of in-person collaboration.
But which teams? When? For how long?
Corporate real estate is the second-highest cost on most companies’ balance sheets after payroll. But why is it that the most valuable asset class a business pays for receives little to no quantitative evaluation of its performance over time?
Companies seeking to right-size their total real estate footprints as hybrid workstyles take hold are finding there are often more questions than answers.
So, where are the answers? Inside the data
Spatial intelligence solutions remove the guesswork from workplace transformation strategies with data about indoor spaces that informs decisions that solve the office’s evolving needs.
As the adage goes, we can’t manage what we don’t measure.
Without investing in space utilization data, real estate teams can’t gauge precisely how investments in office space and facilities map to a company’s strategic plan and the needs of its employees.
Earlier solutions used wired-in occupancy sensors for people counting data. But now, spatial intelligence solutions leverage WiFi-based technology to track movements throughout the built environment.
How can spatial intelligence shape a workplace transformation?
To understand how space utilization data generated by spatial intelligence can impact potential real estate costs, consider the following recent examples we’ve encountered:
1. A company’s real estate team was notified by higher-level executives about the need for office space in a new location. Before pricing out the project, the team sought to learn whether behaviours in the existing office had changed in the past few years.
With a space utilization solution running on their existing WiFi network, they were able to discern that over time, the outdoor patio space at their current office has become very popular. As a result, their needs analysis for the second office was updated to include a requirement for substantial outdoor space.
The changing nature of work means companies must respond to the demands of the job market. Retaining and attracting talent requires new levels of flexibility. If coming out of a global pandemic, outdoor space is of greater importance to employees than it was prior, companies would be wise to act on this information.
2. A team of workplace strategists investigated claims that the 7th floor needed more meeting room space. Occupancy data confirmed that the rooms were often at capacity. But spatial intelligence revealed that those using the meeting space most frequently were part of a team assigned to the floor below. What started as a 7th-floor problem, was clarified to be a 6th-floor problem.
A good hybrid work solution must account for the unique behaviour patterns of different work teams sharing a space. By aggregating data over time, spatial intelligence identifies repeat patterns of behaviour that can infer who is in a particular indoor space.
3. A space planner used spatial intelligence to assess how meeting rooms, assigned neighbourhoods, and collaboration spaces were being used by individual teams. They discovered they could comfortably add 100 employees to the existing footprint and saved more than 3 million dollars in one year in real estate acquisition and outfitting costs.
The secret sauce is WiFi
WiFi has become a highly effective enabler of indoor location and spatial intelligence solutions. Each iteration of WiFi is faster, more reliable, more secure, and more accurate. It is omnipresent, easily accessible, and affordable.
It leads to more space coverage with less equipment because all detected WiFi signals, static and mobile, access points and clients, are used to amass data.
As a result of WiFi’s relative ubiquity, spatial intelligence technology takes little time to deploy and needs very little – if any – additional hardware to be installed in the office.
The longer the system is in place, the more granular the analysis can get – even differentiating employees from visitors.
Less guesswork, more science
The future of work is unwritten. Few predicted where we find ourselves today. But the path forward doesn’t have to be anyone’s guess. Spatial intelligence can help companies design their indoor space cost-effectively and appropriately, based on data that tells the full story of how the office is being used.