June 20, 2018
Tiny coin-sized sensors discreetly placed throughout an office can gather loads of powerful data and fascinating insights about workers actually use their space.
The small 2-person conference rooms might be occupied 90% of the time as people make calls or have impromptu one-on-one meetings, while the enormous 16-person conference room sits empty all but a couple hours of the week.
Software engineers may stay at their benched seating virtually all day long, while workers in the sales department and project managers spend the bulk of their time floating around, meeting with colleagues in other departments and calling on customers.
Some coworking companies are also experimenting with sensors and using “heat maps” to design office space aimed at larger corporate teams based on the findings. It’ll be interesting to see whether what works for many companies sharing a coworking space also works for large corporations with numerous teams.
There’s also an energy savings play. Gensler estimates it lowered its energy bill by 25% for its New York office after installing 1,000 Enlighted sensors that detect motion, energy use and daylight so lights and thermostats can be automatically adjusted based on whether rooms are actually being used. The firm estimates the $200,000 investment will pay for itself in five years.
Sensors are a fascinating and powerful tool, but the findings aren’t universal – what works for one business might be completely irrelevant for another.
We think sensors should be paired with insights on a company’s unique culture to bring rich context around why people are moving and interacting the way they are. That’s why we do culture surveys and interviews with employees, to learn more about how they work and what they want in their space.
We’re working on sensor implementations of our own, and we look forward to analyzing the data and finding creative ways to use it so we can help our clients elevate their workplace. If you’d like to learn more, please reach out to us here.