How Companies Are Using Occupancy Sensors for Better Space Management

by James McDonald on February 12, 2018

No matter where an employee is working, there are two things she needs to do her job: equipment and space.

For remote employees, that space could be in a coffee shop, an airport or anywhere with a wireless internet connection. But on-site employees need access to adequate workspaces, whether they work in the office every day or only come in a few days a week to collaborate with colleagues. Keeping track of who is in the office on any given day and ensuring you have enough available space to meet their needs can quickly become a logistical nightmare.

Progressive companies know one of the best ways to address this is by using occupancy sensors. Here’s what you need to know about occupancy sensors and how they can lead to better space management.

Creating a Space Management Strategy

Before your organization can even consider making major changes to its floor plans, it needs to determine how it will implement these changes. A comprehensive space management strategy enables companies to make decisions about the current needs of the workplace, forecast future needs and determine how the cost of the existing space affects profitability.

Some important elements of a space management strategy include:

  • Real-time access to space utilization data (such as occupancy rates)
  • The ability to quantify the cost of space
  • Visibility into floor plans and understand the impact of making changes
  • A system for employees to reserve rooms and other spaces

Once a space management strategy is in place, your organization has to decide how execute it. Occupancy sensors passively measure the occupancy of workspaces throughout the office, allowing facilities leaders to see real-time space data. Having accurate visibility into space utilization helps your facilities team apply your space management strategy in the most impactful and effective way.

Read more about other types of IoT sensors and how to use them. 

The Power of Occupancy Sensors and Space Management Software

While occupancy sensors can help your facilities team collect data, unless the data feeds into cloud-based space management software, it won’t actually do much good. Using occupancy sensors and space management software in tandem allows your organization to find opportunities to improve the workplace and make data-driven decisions – not ones based on assumptions or estimates.

When your organization has insight into traffic patterns and employee behavior, you can see which spaces are in high demand and which are rarely used. Knowing the location of underutilized space allows you to determine if the space should be consolidated or if a new workspace design would make it more attractive to employees.

Most importantly, this technology prevents your organization from decreasing available workspace too much and creating issues with employee productivity and comfort. At the same time, it prevents your company from wasting money lighting, heating, cooling and performing maintenance on spaces no one is using. It also reduces the possibility of purchasing assets like desks, computers and printers that aren’t actually needed.

Proper Installation and Use of Occupancy Sensors

One of the benefits of occupancy sensors is that they collect data unobtrusively, without interrupting the office workflow – as long as they are installed in the correct places. Sensors should be affixed to the parts of a workstation that are least likely to be in the way, such as the underside of the desk or chair. For tracking general space occupancy, sensors should be installed as high on the wall as possible so employees won’t accidentally bump into them.

Part of implementing occupancy sensors is determining how the data they collect will be transferred to your space management software. To transmit information, sensors must be connected to a wireless or wired network. Your organization has several options for network technology, including as WiFi, cellular, LTE and Bluetooth. To choose the right technology, you need to calculate your desired transfer speed, minimum communications distance, available bandwidth and ideal power consumption.

Using Sensors to Better Maintain the Workplace

The data from occupancy sensors also helps facilities leaders identify which spaces need more maintenance than others. Highly-utilized spaces obviously use more electricity and supplies, so they’ll need to be serviced more frequently. Additionally, any assets in the space will be used more frequently, which means they’ll likely need maintenance more often.

It’s not necessarily a good idea to rely on employees to tell your facilities team about problems with a workspace. While there are plenty of members of the workforce who are more than happy to let the facilities team know about an issue, some employees are less vocal. So if the lights are on the fritz or a piece of equipment isn’t functioning properly or supplies like printer cartridges and dry erase markers are low, employees may assume another team member has already informed the facilities team and not enter a service ticket – even though no one has actually alerted the proper parties to the issue.

If the facilities team is not proactive about checking on the status of popular workspaces, some issues may inhibit productivity for an unnecessarily long time.

If you want to improve space utilization and enhance the efficiency of your workplace, consider investing in occupancy sensors. Using this technology can help you feel more comfortable and more confident about how your company manages its space. 

To discover how other leading organizations are using them, check out our IoT sensors eBook


James McDonald

James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.

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