This Is The Sensor Data You Need For A Safer Workplace

by Rebecca Symmank on October 1, 2020
How To Plan A Safer Workplace Now And In The Future

Protecting the health, well-being, and overall safety of your employees has always been your top priority, but the pressure is even greater with the threat of COVID-19.

Sensor data allows you to respond to concerns about capacity and cleanliness in a faster, more targeted way. Here are four examples of sensor data that help you achieve this.

4 types of sensor data you should collect

1. Occupancy data

Reducing office density has become a chief concern for workplace leaders.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend people maintain a distance of at least six feet to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. For many organizations, this means reducing the maximum capacity of offices by 50% or more.

Requiring all employees to reserve desks daily or pre-register using a visitor management system can help you limit occupancy. Another option is to use sensors to see what percentage of your space is actually occupied throughout the day.

Sensor data also gives you additional insight into occupancy trends over time. You can use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to see how many people are in the office on Monday compared to Friday, for instance, and plan accordingly.

If you’re having difficulty reducing office density, you may need to consider assigning employees to alternating shifts.

See how Space-Right™ makes it easy to limit capacity and manage shifts.

2. Space utilization data

Beyond simply seeing how many employees are in the office, you can use sensor data to see how they are actually using the spaces available to them.

By adding desk sensors and occupancy sensors outside conference rooms, you can answer questions like:

  • What is our average employee-to-desk ratio?
  • What is our average conference room utilization rate?
  • Which conference rooms are used the least?
  • Do we have too many employees gathering in our common areas?

When you can answer these questions, you can go back to your digital drawing board (i.e. your space management software) and make the necessary adjustments.

And with Space-Right™, you can instantly reconfigure your floor plans, recategorize unsafe spaces like small conference rooms, or stagger employee arrival times to reduce office density.

Sensor data that shows daily utilization also makes it easy to prioritize cleaning and sanitization.

You can simply run a report and send it to your facility management team — or attach it to a service request.

With this data, your crew can focus on sanitizing spaces that have actually been used, allowing for more efficient and cost-effective cleaning.

3. Environmental sensor data

Multiple studies have found a correlation between relative humidity levels in indoor environments and community transmission of COVID-19. Relative humidity is the measure of moisture in the air, relative to the air temperature.

One study in Australia estimated that lowering relative humidity by a single percentage point can increase COVID-19 cases by 7-8%. A 10% decrease can double the number of cases.

Professor Michael Ward, an epidemiologist in the Sydney School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney, explained why in this article.

“When the humidity is lower, the air is drier and it makes the aerosols smaller,” he said. “When you sneeze and cough, those smaller infectious aerosols can stay suspended in the air for longer. That increases the exposure for other people.”

On the other hand, when the air is humid, the aerosols are larger and heavier, which means they fall to surfaces more quickly.

In another article, Dr. Ajit Ahlawat of Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) explained that drier air “makes the mucous membranes in our noses dry and more permeable to viruses.”

That means managing humidity levels in your workplace is a crucial aspect of creating a safe environment.

With IoT sensors, you can monitor moisture levels and temperature throughout the workplace and see how it fluctuates based on the number of occupants. You can also connect sensors to intelligent building systems that will automatically adjust air flow and temperature based on sensor data to ensure humidity levels are consistently around 40-60%.

4. Asset utilization data

Do you have enough cleaning supplies? Are your restrooms running low on soap or paper towels? With sensor data to help you gauge asset utilization, you don’t have to guess.

You can affix sensors to restroom doors and receive notifications when the number of door swings reaches a certain threshold, indicating high utilization.

If employees express concerns, this might be a good time to remind them that many toilets and soap dispensers already use motion sensors. Sensor data that detects motion on a door isn’t any different.

Sensor devices can also be used for anomaly detection on critical building systems like furnaces or water heaters. For instance, they can measure data points like temperature, friction, or vibration to anticipate failure before it occurs.

This helps your facilities management team move from reactive requests to predictive maintenance.

Making the most of sensor data

The value of sensor data cannot be overstated — especially when it comes to maintaining a safe workplace.

However, if you don’t connect your sensors to an integrated workplace management system (IWMS), you’re limiting the scope of what you can accomplish with the information the sensors collect. This is because you’ll be evaluating sensor data in silos, instead of seeing how all the sensor data sets relate within a larger context.

Integrating sensors with an IWMS allows you to aggregate data from multiple sources into a single analytics platform, providing you with a more complete picture of the workplace.

It also makes sensor data more actionable.

For example, if your occupancy sensor data shows employees are clustering in one area of the office, you may not understand why. With an IWMS, you can look for additional clues — such as an increase in service requests.

Employees may have been avoiding one part of the building because it was too cold, too hot, or had an unreliable Wi-Fi connection.

Using sensors with an IWMS empowers you to make more impactful decisions than sensor data alone.

Maintaining a safe workplace is more complex than it was even six months ago. But with accurate sensor data and an IWMS, you can begin capturing the information you need to maintain a healthy workplace.

Discover more tips on safely returning to the workplace in our eBookHow to Plan A Safer Return To Work Now And In The Future.


Rebecca Symmank

As a member of the Business Development team for iOFFICE, Rebecca is spirited and is quick to take initiative. Previously a customer and daily user of the IWMS provider, she has extensive experience on both the front and back end structure of the product. Rebecca's enthusiasm for facilities management and her tangible experience in the field give her an unprecedented understanding and perception of iOFFICE customers. Rebecca is able to relate to organizations implementing on IWMS, and has a unique perspective on what makes the experience a success.

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