SPONSORED CONTENT: Following 18 months where the physical workplace, our attitudes towards it, and the world at large saw unparalleled disruption, the role of the office has fundamentally changed. Our discussions with industry leaders have revealed a huge shift in perception, with many reassessing the culture of presenteeism – a trait long believed to be necessary for employees to perform their job functions to the best of their abilities.
As businesses of all shapes and sizes set their sights on a hybrid return to the office, business owners and managers will have to address three key aspects of working life: alleviating employees anxieties, optimising the use of the physical space, and improving the overall employee experience.
Here we explore these trends, examining why occupancy data is so important and what businesses have to do to get it right.
Employees and their wellbeing
Employees’ expectations have changed. They must be assured that their health and wellbeing is front-of-mind and not an afterthought. For businesses, this means clearly demonstrating any new measures that have been put in place to help keep employees safe.
Employees are expecting increased hygiene standards, particularly in washrooms, as well as stepped-up practices and protocols in other shared spaces. Occupancy sensing technology has a number of uses in a safety-prioritised workplace:
Room occupancy sensors
Room sensors let employees know when areas such as washrooms, cafes, canteens, meeting rooms and office floors are safe to enter based on the capacity needed to maintain social distancing.
They can also alert cleaning staff when and where cleaning is needed based on traffic. This is a simple way to improve process efficiency, ensuring that high-traffic areas that really need attention get it first, rather than waiting for their next turn in the cleaning cycle.
More importantly, it shows staff that you take their concerns seriously. According to a recent study, one in ten employees said they were experiencing stress at the prospect of sharing a toilet with other staff members upon their return to the office.
Desk occupancy sensors
Sensors can also be used to indicate when desks are free and help cleaning staff see at a glance which desks have been used recently and where their efforts should be directed. Sensors can also help create a “frictionless check-in” for those who wish to employ desk check-in or ‘hotelling’.
A well-ventilated office is a happy and productive office. Integrating occupancy data with your HVAC system allows you to automate control of temperature and ventilation based on real-time occupancy levels.
Proper ventilation can help reduce absence relating to sickness and curb the headaches and drowsiness that can occur in a poorly-ventilated office - found to affect 86% of employees.
57% of UK office workers think that indoor air quality is affecting their mental and physical health, so it is important for employees to see that steps are being taken to reduce transmission, improve hygiene and protect their personal wellbeing.
A well-coordinated, thoughtful and people-first employee experience is one of the single most important things you can do to help your staff as they return to the office. It will help them feel more relaxed, confident and ultimately boost their productivity. Trends are suggesting businesses are looking to use occupancy sensors and occupancy data in the following ways to help improve the employee experience:
Incorporating the collected occupancy data on an employee app makes it available to them at a moment’s notice, helping them to plan their day and make more informed decisions - like visiting the canteen or onsite amenities during quieter periods.
The data collected by sensors can help employees find each other, as well as find available meeting rooms, desks or breakout and collaboration spaces.
As explored above, desk sensors used with apps or swipe cards can help employees find a just-cleaned and available seat to work in without any worries about safety.
Space utilisation and optimisation
Throughout 2020 and 2021, we have seen an unprecedented change in attitudes towards how we live and work. Having started out as a temporary solution for many, remote working has gathered pace and will now affect key decisions being made by businesses, from the terms of contracts with staff, to how much office space is actually needed.
Productivity, collaboration, co-ordination and opportunities for socialising mean it is well worth hanging onto your physical office space if you possibly can, even if it is reduced in size. What could this look like - and how could occupancy data help organisations make the most of their new arrangements?
Flexible and hybrid working patterns
Although it looks certain that people will eventually return to the workplace, many businesses have announced the adoption of more flexible and hybrid working patterns and that their employees won’t return to the workplace full time.
Some employees may be asked to work from home permanently to help with costs and leases, others may not feel comfortable coming back to the workplace based on their personal risk level. In many cases, the workplace will be centred on teamwork and collaboration, but with fewer employees in the office, space will need to be optimised to ensure it is being used to its full potential.
Occupancy data can help smooth out the kinks, showing how much space you are actually utilising and highlighting areas which could be repurposed, consolidated, sublet, sold or given up to lower costs.
Energy saving and cost reduction
Occupancy sensors allow you to improve sustainability by connecting occupancy data with other building facility management systems and automatically turning off things such as lights and HVAC when rooms, areas or even whole floors are not in use.
Alternatively, occupancy data can power solutions that direct employees to already occupied but underutilised areas, eliminating the need for turning on of additional lighting or heating, as well as promoting efficiency by grouping people together to work in a way that is both socially-distanced and cost-effective.
To learn more about collecting occupancy data and how it can benefit your organisation, talk to one of our experts or watch a short demo.