How To Find The Right Sensor Technology For Your Agile Workplace
As your company considers the new reality of agile working and what your workplace will look like in the future, sensor technology should be part of the discussion.
Sensor technology gives you real-time space utilization data you can use to maximize your real estate, create a better environment for employees and improve operational efficiency. For instance, Internet of Things (IoT) sensor data can help you make improvements to your workplace design or adjust your cleaning schedule based on demand.
With so many different types of sensors on the market today, how do you determine which one is right for your organization?
Here are the most important factors to consider.
Sensor Technology Factors
Although the cost of IoT sensors has decreased significantly in recent years and continues to decline, implementing sensor technology in the workplace is still an investment.
Some solutions, such as using employee badge data, fall at the lower end of the cost spectrum. Others, such as using Wi-Fi triangulation for indoor positioning, are considerably more expensive because they require additional set-up costs.
Depending on the type of data you need to collect and how often you need to collect it, you might be able to start with less expensive sensor technology and add more precise data collection methods later. You can also start by deploying sensor technology on just one floor or in one area of your office, assessing the impact and building on your strategy from there.
Although the cost of most individual sensors is minimal, your total investment in sensor technology will depend on how much space you need to cover. Badge data technology is a minimal investment that covers your entire workforce, while individual desk sensors only cover a single point. This may be preferable if your goal is to measure space utilization down to individual workstations, but it may not be ideal if you have several thousand employees.
Considering your space utilization goals will help you determine how precise you need your sensor data to be.
Data Collection Frequency
Some sensor technology collects data just once or twice a day. Badge data is one example. It registers employees when they enter your building each day. That might be sufficient if your primary goal is to track occupancy on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, but it won’t tell you how they’re utilizing the space throughout the day.
Most other sensor technology, including desk sensors, passive infrared (PIR) sensors and Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons, collects data minute-by-minute. This is particularly useful if you are looking to gather further insights about how employees use your space. It can help you make more data-driven decisions about your workplace, such as:
- Whether you need more small conference rooms instead of a few larger ones
- Which employees need dedicated desks and which ones can share desks
- Which rooms, desks or areas were used each day so your maintenance team knows where to start cleaning and sanitizing
Personal Identifiable Information
If your workplace is implementing IoT sensors, you can expect some employees to raise concerns about privacy. It’s important to be transparent with them about what sensor data you will collect and how you plan to use it.
Unlike badge data, the most common types of sensors collect anonymous occupancy data rather than personal identifiable information. They are placed in unobtrusive locations, such as beneath desks or outside doors, and typically detect motion, light or heat. For instance, they can record the number of times a restroom door opens throughout the day so your maintenance team can receive an alert when utilization reaches a certain threshold. The goal is to improve restroom cleanliness, not monitor employees. That’s an important distinction your workforce needs to understand.
Active Versus Passive Sensors
Active sensors rely on an external source of power to transmit data. Employee RFID badges, BLE beacons and Wi-Fi triangulation are a few examples. BLE beacons are similar to Wi-Fi in the way that they allow devices to communicate with each other, but BLE beacons are ideal for situations where battery life is more important than data transfer speed.
Most sensors used in the workplace are passive sensors, meaning they collect data from the environment around them without relying on an external source of transmission.
The type of sensor technology you choose will depend on the volume of data you need to collect, how quickly you need to collect it and how long you need the battery to last.
How Space Management Software And Sensor Technology Work Together
Sensor technology captures a large volume of data that may be difficult to digest without context.
When sensors are integrated with space management software, however, you can gain a clear picture of how employees are using different areas of your workplace.
For instance, you can see:
- Which rooms are reserved but not actually in use
- Which areas of your workplace have the highest traffic
- Which areas are consistently underutilized
- When your workplace experiences peak utilization
- What percentage of desks are used during an average day, week or month
The IoT offers us a wealth of data, but the data itself can only tell us so much. To get the best value from IoT sensor data, you need to use it with software that makes that data easily visible and actionable. Many of our clients are already using IoT sensors to respond to the needs of their workplace in real time and make smarter business decisions over time.
For example, one of our clients wanted to gain more insight into how employees were using their space so they could better plan for the future. Using an employee badging system that integrates with our space management software, they were able to see 30-day heat maps of how often each employee was in the office. This allowed them to determine which employees needed dedicated desks, which could reserve desks as needed and which were mostly or entirely remote.
If you’re looking to incorporate sensors into your workplace, we can help. Schedule a free consultation with us today to learn more.