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Guide to smarter workspace planning

One of the biggest questions facing business leaders today is: what is the future role of the office? It has been abundantly clear that designing an office around the functionality of a single worker’s desk is already a thing of the past.

The pandemic brought about an enforced remote workforce, many of whom have remained remote, either through choice or through necessity. This means long-term portfolio strategies are under scrutiny as companies contemplate the impact of a remote, or hybrid, workforce.

New challenges, such as choosing urban or suburban locations, and factoring flexible office space into workspace design and planning mean taking a step back from the near-term pressures of reopening workplaces to focus on critical considerations for the long term.

It’s time for organisations to think about how to future-proof their office environments.

Proptech (property technology) can support this decision making, supplying precise data about what’s happening within a building.

Smart occupancy sensors can provide detailed real-time usage data on spaces, the number of occupants, people movement and how furniture and equipment is being used. Using sensors to detect occupancy and movement does not invade privacy, as they don’t contain cameras or capture images.

Occupancy and utilisation data from smart sensors can help companies with:

1. Space planning

Better workspace design and planning begins with gathering accurate occupancy and utilisation data. Combining data from multiple sensors, such as desk, room, cubicle and table occupancy sensors can help you determine trends in how people use facilities.

You can also monitor the movements of occupants within the building, using people flow sensors. And when you have a comprehensive view of this, you can really start to optimise space.

This data can help see density levels, suggesting quieter areas to redesign or busy areas to reconfigure. Granular utilisation data tells you the way space is being used, to help you determine how much space is needed for desks, meeting rooms and new social zones, as well as inform how that space should be designed and arranged.

By monitoring environmental conditions through the day – such as air quality, temperature, humidity, light and sound levels – spaces can be allocated for the designed for purpose and comfortable.

2. Layout optimisation

The design of workspaces has remained largely unchanged for decades. But for improved collaboration and adaptability, it’s important to understand where employees gather the most and who is collaborating.

Using data from desk and doorway flow sensors, meeting rooms and workspaces can be reconfigured according to need. The data can also help to determine how to reconfigure underutilised space to better suit employee needs.

3. Capacity management

Due to hybrid working, a number of organisations have downsized their real estate footprint. In some cases, this means they need to reconfigure existing floor plans.

From a capacity perspective, the challenge is to avoid underutilised space, instead creating space that is more adaptable. Using utilisation data, managers can track average occupancy, peak occupancy, and occupancy ranges over time, as well as workspace and conference room use.

The same occupancy data can also be used to optimise office cleaning schedules to reflect different occupancy levels.

Plus, data from smart people flow sensors can limit room entry once occupancy has reached capacity or notify facilities management about sanitation needs once a certain number have used the area.

Data-driven decision making

Managing building operations is a balancing act, covering a range of goals such as improving efficiency, reducing costs and identifying new revenues. To reach these targets, data needs to be captured from the right sources and effectively analysed.

This better use of workspace also translates into energy cost savings, increased employee productivity, and more targeted use of resources.

You can even combine smart sensor technology to spot trends and anomalies. Using smart occupancy and environmental sensors throughout the building can track energy consumption or air quality over time and detect problems immediately.

In the longer term, data can help to determine future occupancy needs or establish when you need more space. On the flip side, it could direct you towards consolidating and sub-letting unused space.

Our workplaces are becoming more innovative, more responsible, more flexible. The people within are no longer looking for a long commute followed by a day at a desk. Business leaders can harness smart technology to inform their workspace planning, offering inspiring and stimulating spaces for collaboration.


Are you looking for ways to improve your workspace planning or design? Do you want to leverage smart sensors to capture data to detect and predict occupiers’ needs? Talk to our experts who will gladly suggest the best Proptech solution for your organisation. 

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