With businesses facing entirely new utilization and wellness challenges in the aftermath of Covid-19, next-generation technology will play a significant role in the ‘new workplace’—not just in keeping employees engaged and safe by maintaining social distancing and creating a productive environment, but also in maintaining buildings, maximizing space, and analyzing costs.
For years, increasingly sophisticated workplace management technology has been helping organizations to streamline processes and maximize workspace utilization. In the Covid-threatened workplace, that same technology is now being used to safely return employees to the workplace.
Next-generation Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS)—such as Trimble’s ManhattanONE software suite—make it easier for CRE and facility management professionals to gain a clear understanding of the optimum workspace capacity for each setting. Integrated space planning tools enable users to model different scenarios—from setting safe physical distancing limits between desks to splitting common functions between different floors and/or buildings to reduce risk.
Before the pandemic, some organizations were turning their premises into “smart buildings”, using different types of sensors to provide accurate, real-time data for improved automation and control.
Today, sensors can also be used to support a safe, phased return to work for employees. When combined with an IMWS solution, organizations can leverage sensors to collect and report on key data for monitoring and planning workspace occupancy, usage, and cleaning.
With combined IWMS and sensor technology in place, companies can analyze data to plan and deploy a successful back-to-the-office strategy and optimize safety in a pre-vaccine workplace.
Sensors can deliver information about sound, light, temperature, humidity levels, air quality, when and how space is occupied, and how people interact in specific spaces. The latest advanced sensors use optical technologies that allow for artificial intelligence (AI), including image recognition and machine learning technology. For example, an advanced sensor with AI can distinguish how many employees are using a set of desks. If the organization’s seating density and safe distancing protocols are not being met, space managers can be alerted.
Adding sensor technology to the mix can help organizations to understand, in real-time, which areas have been occupied and need to remain unoccupied until they are cleaned and sanitized. This data can be used to auto-request cleaning and will provide cleaning staff with a clear indication of where people have been working.
Sensors can also track evolving usage and utilization, monitor policy versus culture, and highlight hotspots.
The risk of Covid-19 transmission is highest in non-assigned common areas which may have a greater density of people—such as lobbies, elevators, washrooms, kitchens and break rooms. The tracking capability and powerful analytical tools of ManhattanONE, for example, can monitor adherence to an organization’s safe distancing policy in these hot spots. The system automatically captures the data through integration with sensors or other indoor location technology.
Sensors can also deliver accurate, real-time data and usage that interfaces with the system’s space scheduling module. Space booking tools that rely on sensor data—like mobile apps—give employees the ability to find an available space quickly—or book a safe desk in the same area as a colleague with whom they need to collaborate.