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Shared workspaces merge physical and digital worlds with IoT

IoT is maturing fast and 2020 will be a tipping point where companies will begin to take advantage of connected technologies. From what we see, a stronger return on initial IoT investment is creating momentum with companies moving quickly out of planning and accelerating through early deployment and into extensive networks of insight and experience, unlocking IoT solutions.

One of the sectors advancing quickly is facilities management. Companies are looking to transform workplaces to inspire their people with flexible spaces that bring a new spirit of creativity and productivity. This is creating new opportunities for building owners and operators to generate higher revenues and lower costs.

The shared workspace booms

Workplace studies have shown that optimizing people’s workplace experiences through the use of connected technology has tangible productivity benefits. As a result, shared workspaces are popping up around the world at an extraordinary rate. We’re seeing a spike in remote workers seeking out WiFi-enabled places to work and mingle with other “digital nomads”, triggering a global trend estimated to reach more than five million people in 2022, according to Emergent Research.

This social trend is being supported by an increasingly pervasive deployment of IoT technology to optimize internal and external experiences and services, which reinforces the combination of IoT devices data with digital data to positively change the economics of businesses.

IoT and analytics are key to smart spaces

IoT technology for an office space often consists of a network of sensors that monitor occupant activity or environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity. Not only can they monitor these conditions, but they can also control devices such as smart locks and smart plugs, which gives both the facility managers and tenants more granular control and personalized experiences. These sensors are typically deployed throughout a building, allowing property managers to capture valuable information on how employees or customers use a building’s available space.

For example, occupancy-detection sensors can determine that a large conference room is rarely more than 50% occupied, while the facility manager’s access control or booking systems highlight that smaller meeting rooms are over-subscribed. With that information, a shared workspace provider can split the conference room into two smaller rooms, allowing the company to serve more occupants, improve availability and generate more revenue. Conversely, if sensors reveal that the rooms are occupied more frequently than the room reservation system indicates, the provider can act to make sure occupants are paying for the rooms, thereby recapturing lost revenue.

Other types of IoT sensors that can help optimize a shared workspace include beacons, cameras, tags or Wi-Fi access points and access control readers, all of which can capture data on how different spaces and resources are utilized. But all these disparate data feeds from a diverse range of sensors require managing, updating and securing, so it makes sense to deploy an IoT platform that can streamline all these tasks, allowing property managers to focus on how space is used instead of figuring out how to better deploy IoT.

Information from a diverse range of inputs can then be consolidated into one dashboard, then modeled over time to plan and allocate space for maximum efficiency. By providing improved visibility into how space is used, an IoT platform can allow property managers to operate their space more efficiently and help increase their revenue per square foot.

Thriving in Dublin

One example of how this is being deployed in the real world comes from Dogpatch Labs, a shared workspace provider in Dublin that is the epicenter of Ireland’s start-up ecosystem. With more than 40,000 square feet on three floors, the Dogpatch Labs co-working environment has a mix of dedicated offices, an urban garden and event space, and a hot desk area where techies can plugin by the hour or for the day.

As a mixed-use space that hosts a blend of temporary and long-term occupants, Dogpatch Labs must allocate space dynamically. To do that, the company uses a mix of cameras and IoT sensors, analytics and visualization software to understand how the space is utilized.

By merging data from physical IoT systems with data from digital systems, such as an enterprise room-booking application, these systems can yield powerful insights. Building operators can create better floor plans that could provide more occupants access to natural light, which can enhance their experience and increase renewal rates. It allows them to improve the scheduling and utilization of high-demand, shared assets such as conference rooms.

Bringing smart spaces technology to new industries

As you might suspect, these capabilities are valuable to other businesses and industries beyond shared workspaces. For example, hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, art galleries and shopping malls can adopt the same approach to improve conference space scheduling or simply make better use of underutilized spaces at specific times.

New entrants and early pioneers alike are benefitting from insights based on physical IoT and digital information that can positively affect the bottom line through lower heating and lighting costs, while optimizing operations. They’re combining this with IoT-driven insights that can enhance the user experience, which ultimately drives revenue through increased loyalty to gain a competitive edge in an increasingly competitive market.

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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