For a long time, the workplace never had a voice. Now, organizations can collect and leverage tremendous amounts of data generated by inter-connected devices. These sensors track everything from ambient temperature, air quality, lighting and utilization to tell you what the workplace—and your people—need. At its most efficient, the data from all of these connected devices can help you design better workplaces, create more efficient environments and help elevate the employee experience.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is basically a network of objects. It includes physical devices (phones, tablets, etc.), buildings, sensors and network connectivity, which allows these objects to communicate and collect and exchange data. By 2025 over 50% of Internet traffic is expected to come from IoT sensors up from just 11% in 2005.
Today’s workplace is filled with technology that generates massive amounts of data. Data from existing workplace technology infrastructure such as badge swipes, Wifi access, and user log-in can be combined with information from desk sensors, strategically placed motion detectors and RFID tags. Corporate Real Estate executives (CREs) can dip into this enriched data stream and paint a very precise picture of the workplace, how it is used and identify where the gaps may be.
Data-driven decision making means CREs no longer have to play the guessing game.
However, given the amount of data being generated, it’s critically important that you identify high quality sources of data, corroborate across data sources and then discern useful patterns. Analytics and visualization are a critical role in this last step.
Visual data analytics helps you quickly identify patterns, exceptions and outliers. From a workplace design perspective, the data can reveal interesting trends such as employee work patterns, peak utilization times, at-desk collaboration, meeting room utilization, air quality, temperature and more.
With this data, you can garner powerful insights and answer questions such as how much space is needed? How many meeting spaces are used and what’s the demand vs. supply? How well are private offices utilized? When do we need to heat or cool spaces? Answers to these questions have an immediate impact on the bottom-line and readily translate to tangible cost savings.
Space utilization data and related analytics help create a financial case, but perhaps the greater use case is in its ability to positively shape employee experience in the workplace.
IoWT and data analytics are re-shaping workplace and bring in cost savings, but can these technologies help find patters and correlations to enhance workplace productivity?
In short, absolutely. In an article tiled Workplaces That Move People, Harvard Business Review cites a great example of how IoT and data analytics can drive tangible productivity gains.
Using sociometric badges to record personal data during the work day, a pharmaceutical company discovered that increased interactions with coworkers on other teams led to a 10% jump in sales among a group of 50 executives. To encourage greater cross-team interaction, the company redesigned its workplace to have fewer, but bigger coffee machines and a larger cafeteria. Why fewer coffee machines? To increase probability of cross-team interaction within the larger cafeteria. According to HBR, the adjustment boosted sales by 20% or $200 million.
Hypotheses such as ‘interaction impacts productivity in specific ways’ have long existed. What IoT and related data analytics allow you to do is substantiate these hypotheses.
For organizations that embrace it, IoWT will help empower real estate executives to design space that closely aligns with business needs, right-size footprints and most importantly enhance employee experience where they’re empowered to be more productive.
Ram Srinivasan, Head of Consulting, Canada
Specializing in the areas of strategic cost reduction, multi-geography business strategy and strategic change management.
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