Context is Key in The Workplace Experience

For decades the workplace has been contained within a determined set of walls. Constrained by these dead walls stand lifeless desks, uninspiring furniture, stiff dated policies, and the faint hum of antiquated technology. Littered among the pained hopes of productivity is a workforce that is becoming increasingly sophisticated. The juxtaposition between apt users and their inept workplaces has inevitably led to diminishing draws to the physical office itself.

As leaders in Workplace Experience, it is one of our top initiatives to create a sense of place that is aspiring, innovative, and productive. After all — despite available alternatives — the office still functions as our home base. For us to begin building smarter workplaces, we need actionable data insights so we can plan and measure our actions. Though there are many ways to get collect data about the workplace, I want to focus on two components that are increasingly available at low costs: mobility and sensors.

Untethered work changes how we support our end-users.

Mobility

Smartphones continue to become cheaper and more available, and they’ve forced organizations to take another look at how we integrate them into an organization. Policies like BYOD were more like bandages and many orgs looked at the positive impact these devices could make in the office. Through the lens of mobility, we get a context of location, demand, and work preferences. Then, we can discover how people move through our spaces and interact with our systems — ultimately resulting in a better understanding of how collaboration works in the space.

But a mobile device shouldn’t be all about gathering data. Instead, it can also serve as a means by which we can drive personalized experiences that merge a worker’s digital workplace and physical workplace into a singular experience. Rather than trying to keep users off their mobile devices, we should find ways to enable them while using the sensor loaded device to have a real-time understanding of utilization.

Sensors

Though it feels like everyone is on their devices these days, we can’t rely solely on them as a data source. Various sensors are already found in most facilities, often to simply control lighting and HVAC. But with the right Integrations, we can use those same sensors to give us additional perception and context into a given space.

A motion detector can provide us with a binary — occupied or unoccupied — status. Through a simple “On or Off” state, we can get a clearer picture of utilization. Paired with software like Teem, we can compare additional data sets (like calendar, visitor logs, or conference room displays) in addition to the motion data to get more context of the true utilization of a given collaboration space.

If we want further granularity, we can look to other sensors like infrared and beacons. Infrared can give us a better headcount to see how many people are utilizing a space. Beacons can give us a specific profile of those individuals. By consequence, the absence of data from sensors can also help us re-capture lost utilization. Too often meetings go unattended or worse a recurring meeting goes unattended for weeks, months, and years costing millions in lost actualized real estate costs.

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