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IoT and the workplace: Transform spaces, improve satisfaction and productivity

When discussing trends affecting today’s workplaces, it’s common to hear talk of how to win the “war for talent,” and how to keep space costs down in response to tightening budgets. All too often, however, these discussions overlook the value an organization can derive from the intersection of people and building spaces, thanks to IoT connectivity.

When strategically applied, IoT connectivity can unleash a wealth of benefits that help improve experiences, extending from the very walls of a building to each employee, creating an interconnected web that can give organizations a competitive edge. This can mean more comfortable office environments that also promote higher levels of productivity and satisfaction. For management, this can mean attracting and retaining top talent. For real estate personnel, this can translate into attractive premium office spaces that strike the right balance between appealing features and effective space utilization.

Let’s consider the drivers for this transformation and the IoT-enabled opportunities for workplaces.

Emphasizing people

We previously touched on how IoT connectivity can drive deeper levels of engagement and enhance experiences within buildings. Office spaces are particularly suited for this type of transformation given the changing expectations and practices of today’s workforce. Gone are the strict 9-to-5 work schedules, where each worker gets one assigned spot in an office to spend the majority of their time. Instead, the landscape is shifting, and so are schedules and practices. Trends like the ubiquity of connectivity and advancements around mobile devices and other personal computing technologies have helped contribute to a more agile, mobile and flexible workforce.

Employee expectations are different, too. And although the workforce is more mobile, technology is still no replacement for human interaction — and office spaces can’t forget this because employees crave it, studies suggest. In fact, research suggests workplace environment quality affects workers’ job satisfaction. Investing appropriately in the types of office spaces workers want can make all the difference with an organization’s biggest asset: its people.

For further proof of the value of experience, one need look no further than how much organizations typically spend on energy costs, rent and people. The people part is often significantly higher than the two other factors, when you take into account all that an organization invests in its workers. This underscores the need for organizations to get the most out of their building spaces by enhancing office worker experiences.

The experience blind spot

Consider a day in the life of an office worker and all of their interactions with a building from start to finish. When viewed in sequence, opportunities for improving experiences begin to emerge. But without IoT-enabled building technologies, it can be tough to grasp the full picture and where gaps exist.

For example, an office worker’s day may begin with finding a spot in the office parking lot. He makes his way to the building entry and then begins his workday in earnest. It seems simple, but consider the process behind these steps: Does the worker have to dig for a badge at the bottom of his bag in order to gain access at the first point of entry? Does he then head to his assigned desk, only to realize he needs to quickly meet with a colleague on an urgent deadline, and do they subsequently spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find a place to convene, searching every conference room and eventually settling on an open — albeit larger than necessary — board room?

At the same time, facilities management and real estate personnel likely have little to no insight into this chain of events and the worker’s actual experience through it all. They likely don’t know how space is actually being used or if it’s going unused for long periods of time, which can negatively impact budgets and lead to overpaying without even knowing it. They also likely don’t know how it’s affecting worker productivity and satisfaction and how much impact they could have with even minor adjustments.

Data-driven gains

This seemingly simple chain of events points to multiple opportunities for implementing building technologies that utilize IoT connectivity to enhance experiences while helping organizations get more out of their buildings. Organizations can bring together data collected by endpoint sensors and multiple building systems, overlaying it with additional software and capabilities like location-based services, cloud-hosted analytics and mobile apps, as previously discussed, ultimately helping ease workers’ movement throughout a facility while giving them more control over their surroundings.

These IoT connections also provide building personnel with key up-to-the-moment, data-driven insights. This can entail details such as where temperatures need adjusting for maximum comfort, along with the insights into where, when and how space is being used. Personnel can use this information to make more informed decisions around building equipment schedules, as well as uncover opportunities for reconfiguring or building out additional space based on usage patterns. The result: highly utilized spaces with highly engaged and satisfied employees.

IoT: Springboard of opportunity

Optimizing worker satisfaction and building spaces isn’t an either-or scenario. Technology is helping forge deeper foundations between the two, with IoT-based infrastructures providing the stable foundation for organizations to strike a balance that helps maximize both sides of the equation, helping organizations put their spaces to work while transforming office environments into spaces that can help delight and retain workers — an organization’s biggest asset.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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