Wayfinding: An essential step for increasing productivity and engagement

In what’s being called “the modern workplace”, productivity and engagement drive everything. From large corporations down to rising startups, companies are exploring new workplace offerings to improve employee experiences. While some businesses experiment with 6 hour work weeks, others are testing out health and wellness programs. Both are often well received and even boasted about, but implementing and supporting these programs long term can be cumbersome and may not be the best fit for every company culture.

Instead of trying to increase productivity and engagement with supplemental tactics, progressive corporations are introducing wayfinding solutions to alleviate daily headaches for employees. Wayfinding is the leveraging of integrated building technologies to deliver employees real-time visibility into the availability of high demand resources; such as conference rooms, desks, and even fellow colleagues.

According to Steelcase Inc., 40% of employees waste up to 30 minutes a day looking for meeting space. And with most employees attending 62 meetings per month, that’s a lot of valuable time lost! Wayfinding tools show employees what rooms are available now, when the room is booked, and what amenities and technologies are available per room. When employers make it simple for employees to find the type of space they need, it not only improves the employee’s overall experience in the workplace but allows them to be more productive with their time.

In fact, according to CBRE’s 2017 Americas Occupier Survey, 53% of organizations name promoting collaboration as the main driver for their workplace strategy. To collaborate effectively, employees not only need the right resources but also must be able to find their fellow co-workers quickly and easily. Wayfinding tools simplify locating a colleague, and contacting them, by pulling in the employee directory. It’s as simple as searching for the person you need and clicking “call” or “email” to be instantly connected, making each collaborative session more efficient and effective.

To learn more about how wayfinding addresses these issues, watch our video blog below:


Workplace Strategies Revolutionizing Office Space

The modern workplace is transforming the way people think about their office space. Leading enterprises are leveraging their workplace to benefit their business and their people. We recently hosted a webinar to address the best practices for the modern workplace. Our panel of industry experts Jill Zunshine, Former Global Head of Real Estate at HP, Tom Zampini, CEO of Beco, and Luc Kamperman, Partner of Veldhoen Company, shared their insights and lessons learned from working with workplace strategies and activity based working. Below we walk through some of the major highlights from each of our presenter’s presentations, read on to learn more.

How to Take a Workplace from Lifeless to Lively

Presented by: Jill Zunshine, Former Global Head of Real Estate, HP

When beginning a workplace transformation, you must gather data to understand how your company and how employees work. There are many ways to collect data, but there are 3 steps that cannot be forgotten.

  • Business Strategies: Understand each business line and function areas of your business. Talk to them about their strategy and goals for their department.
  • Employee Feedback: Gather and analyze engagement scores and satisfaction surveys to understand what employees think about the current workspace.
  • Utilization Percentages: Collect how space is being used and what spaces are being used for what type of activity. Having the right utilization collection technologies can accelerate your process.

“The best workplace strategies are designed around the people and their work,” says Jill Zunshine. When designing an activity based workplace, workstyles and work settings need to be considered. Jill uses five work styles and five work settings to understand how employees work. Here’s a few examples:

Work Style:

  • Agile: Often means flexible, frequent changes between collaborating and concentrating (ex. System software engineer).
  • Innovator: Refers to constantly developing or creating something new (ex. Research engineer).

Work Setting:

  • Entry Zone: Typically a reception area or business lounge. These types of settings are best for the traveler work style.
  • Quiet Zone: Little to no talking takes place in this area. This work setting is suitable for agile, concentrator, or innovator working styles.

*Design Tip: creating spaces that flow from an active buzz to a quieter noise level has shown to be most effective.

Watch the webinar to learn more about creating a lively workplace strategy >> 

Technology in the Modern Workplace

Presented by: Tom Zampini, CEO of Beco

From experience, Tom Zampini sees three problems that have arisen regarding the modern workplace:

  • Over Spending: Large and inflexible portfolios are heavily underused.
  • Failure to Embrace Digital: There’s a failure to embrace digital and thinking that mobility undermines productivity.
  • Working Environment: Companies are either working in new ways in old spaces, or working in new spaces that impede real work.

To combat these issues, today’s dynamic workplaces need real-time data. “There’s a need for real-time monitoring of space utilization across the entire portfolio. It’s not just a space study, it’s a perpetual measurement of all space, all the time, at scale,” says Tom.

Once you gather the real-time data, it unlocks the ability to see true success. Such as:

  • Saving on real estate: repurpose space, delay expansion, and consolidate buildings.
  • Better management of workplace: optimize design, find a free space in real-time, and bring amenities online.

Watch the webinar to learn more about enabling the employee experience through mobile >> 

Industry Trends & Consulting Experiences

Presented by: Luc Kamperman, Partner at Veldhoen Company

How leadership and employees engage with one another is changing right alongside the workplace. Once you have an activity based work environment, how do you support the employee’s productivity and innovation? Luc follows 3 factors to lead to better performance and personal satisfaction.

  • Autonomy: people want to explore, learn, and foster their inner drive. This can be supported by giving people control in their environment.
  • Mastery: employees should strive to get better at doing things, and encourage improvements and growth.
  • Purpose: what is connecting them to their work and workplace?

*Engagement Tip: If you want engagement, a self-directed approach is ideal.

When optimizing your workplace, an integrated approach is the most effective. An integrated approach consists of the physical, virtual, and behavior environment. What that means is:

  • Physical: the workspace
  • Virtual: mobilization of information
  • Behavioral: change and communication

Watch the webinar to learn more about the opportunities activity based working creates >>

The modern workplace means something different for every company. To learn more about how the modern workplace is impacting today’s organization watch our full webinar here.

Creating an Activity Based Working Strategy

Workplace transformation is becoming a primary focus for innovative companies. In fact, according to the CBRE 2017 Americas Occupier Survey Report, 86% of respondents are reinventing or adapting their workplace standards this year. But, where do you start? New and trending strategies seem to appear every week: open office design, hoteling, agile working. How do you know which strategy will work best for your business?

Today, corporations are relying heavily on their real estate teams to revolutionize their workplaces into modern spaces where employees and buildings are both effective and efficient. The multi-generational workforce has higher expectations from their employers and people want more from their office than just a place to sit. To accommodate these diverse needs and demands, leading enterprises are seeing the most success with activity based working environments.

Download Whitepaper: “Creating an Activity Based Working Strategy”

Leesman describes activity based working (ABW) as a transformational business strategy that provides people with a choice of setting, rather than forcing individuals to work at a singular desk location. Companies who have adopted ABW in their workplace strategy are finding it to be a long-term solution that addresses the modern workforce needs as well as aligning with business goals.

While many companies are realizing the benefits of ABW, the transition didn’t happen overnight. Their corporate real estate teams consider the multi-generational workforce, rising property costs, advancements in technology, and the war for talent when creating their workplace strategy.

To learn how progressive enterprises are developing successful ABW strategies, read our new step-by-step guide “Creating an Activity Based Working Strategy”.

Can Traditional IWMS Meet the Requirements of the Modern Workplace?

Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) were developed in the nineties to address the technical limitations of sharing data between multiple real estate and facility management teams. The benefit of IWMS was having a single system for managing the entire real estate portfolio lifecycle. Since these systems were designed for traditional office space, progressive companies are starting to doubt the ability of IWMS to support the transition to the modern workplace.

It is no secret that IWMS are cumbersome to use, which results in companies hiring high priced consultants for implementations. Paired with its lack of features and flexibility, IWMS frequently end up exceeding its original price due to required customization.

Download Whitepaper: “Can Traditional IWMS Meet the Requirements of the Modern Workplace?”

While the premise of IWMS was to make the real estate teams more efficient, the system relies on manual audits for gathering occupancy data.  Manual audits add an additional layer of cost to an already pricey system in the form of dedicated time and resources needed to complete a manual audit, not to mention the added risk of inaccurate numbers.

To combat these issues, progressive companies are leveraging best-of-breed space management technology to augment their existing investment in traditional IWMS to support their modern workplaces. Space management technology is able to address the new requirements of modern workplaces such as neighborhoods, seating ratios, real-time utilization, and highlighting the differences between actual usage of space and allocation of space. 

To learn more about the evolution of IWMS in the modern workplace, download our whitepaper “Can Traditional IWMS Meet the Requirements of the Modern Workplace?”

High-Tech Commercial Occupancy Sensors for Agile Space Planning

The following is a guest blog written by Itamar Roth, Chief Business Officer at PointGrab.

Agile workplaces are a smart strategy for solving a number of pressing corporate problems: reining in mounting property costs by optimizing space, supporting workforce mobility, and attracting and retaining talent.

However, planning and managing these flexible environments is challenging because of the nature of agile spaces: people are constantly moving around and occupancy shifts from day to day, even hour to hour. Agile space planning requires a real-time in-depth understanding of how your workforce uses space, including the floor, room and desk level. If you attempt to implement agile workplaces without reliable business intelligence about space utilization, chances are you’ll fail to gain the benefits you’re looking to achieve.

Innovative occupants’ activity sensors can provide up-to-the-minute intelligence about space utilization that’s needed to plan and manage modern workplaces. In the past, commercial occupancy sensors most commonly were used for automating lighting or HVAC control. Today, intelligent Internet of Things (IoT) sensor technology can be used to help lower expenses and design workplaces that provide the optimal employee experience.

Here are some of the latest advancements in commercial occupancy sensors and how they overcome some of these challenges.

Horizontal sensing vs. traditional commercial occupancy sensors

Counting the number of people occupying a space is useful for a number of facilities operations, including managing lighting, controlling HVAC, managing meeting space usage and room booking systems, and even for building security. However, in the past, separate sensors managed each of these functions without crossover. Today, with the IoT transformation, computer vision and AI advancements, “horizontal” sensing devices can share data across many building systems, meaning facility managers can implement one sensor platform to communicate with and manage various building automation requirements.

TIP: Deploying a unified sensing platform also makes it easier to monitor and analyze data using Serraview’s space analytics tools and heat-maps.

Image sensing and AI improves ability to count people for space management

Many traditional commercial occupancy sensors use motion-detection to infer the presence or absence of people within a defined space. Therefore, such sensors cannot determine the number of occupants in the given space.

Other people-counting technologies, such as beacons, can provide location details, but they require employees to install a smartphone app, keep it switched on and carry the device wherever they go inside the building. Without participation, the accuracy of these systems is questionable. In addition, they might “count” nearby employees who are just outside the designated count area (e.g. a meeting room).

More advanced occupants’ activity sensors use imaging technology to “see” people (as opposed to objects) within a defined space to provide an accurate headcount and occupants’ tracking information. These sensors are surprisingly smart, as they not only “see” but also analyze the scenery. Using deep-learning neural network technology, such sensor devices can accurately detect the presence, location, count and movement of occupants across countless scenarios and environments. As a result, these devices can provide more detailed and accurate information about occupants, well beyond merely reporting the absence or presence of people within a space.

Edge analytics technology protects occupants’ privacy

Corporate space planners need accurate space utilization data to provide better work spaces that support mobility and collaboration. However, they must collect that intelligence without compromising the privacy of employees. Occupants’ activity sensors that employ edge analytics provide intelligence and the required level of privacy, since all the data processing happens within the sensor itself. That means no sensitive or identifiable information (such as occupant’s image) is stored or transmitted, therefore there is no privacy compromise.

Extending range and reducing maintenance

In a flexible office environment, it’s essential to track seat availability in real time to power wayfinding and desk booking systems that help employees find spaces to work. Even in traditional spaces, meeting room seating must be monitored for availability and occupancy tracked to better optimize meeting space. However, putting traditional and single-purpose desk sensors under every seat can become expensive. Even beyond the cost of the sensors, there is the cost of installation and the cost of replacing batteries regularly.

Occupants’ activity sensor technology is hard-wired to eliminate battery changes. And, instead of being installed under every seat, ceiling installations increase the range, allowing a single sensor to track up to 15 seats simultaneously.

Demand-controlled ventilation reduces energy use

Intelligent sensor technology is becoming useful for increased control of building systems like HVAC, which not only reduces costs but provides a more comfortable environment for the workforce. Demand-controlled ventilation is a great example. Ventilation brings air into the space from the outside, which must be heated or cooled to a set temperature. Traditional ventilation is designed to vent space according to its maximum capacity, which today is rarely 100%. Venting at 100% capacity wastes a great deal of energy, especially in very hot or cold climates.

Demand-controlled ventilation reduces HVAC energy consumption by 20% by using actual space utilization data from sensors to adjust ventilation according to real-time demand. Monitoring CO2 levels is one way to measure the need for ventilation within a space. However, occupants’ activity sensors can respond faster to changing numbers of people without waiting for CO2 levels to rise and fall, and reports these numbers to the HVAC system. The result is better indoor air quality, which can impact both workforce wellness and productivity.

Daylight harvesting provides smarter lighting control

The same occupants’ activity sensors that count people in a space can also be used to provide the optimal lighting conditions and further reduce energy consumption. In modern workplaces with lots of windows and natural light, photo cells are used to precisely monitor the lighting conditions within a space. The sensors take advantage of natural light, when and where it’s available, and reduce your building’s lighting accordingly. This process is called “daylight harvesting.”

While using a few photo cells for daylight harvesting has been shown effective, it is still limited in analyzing the complete light distribution in a defined space. By contrast, the same image sensor that is used for occupants’ detection applications contains thousands of photo cells, allowing it to “see” the varying lighting conditions within a region of interest. That data can be used to understand which lights can be dimmed and which powered up within a given area. The result is optimized lighting distribution, reduced energy consumption, and a better workplace experience for employees.

The workplace tools used by facilities and corporate real estate teams need to keep up with the smart technology the workforce is implementing. Smart building technology, especially intelligent sensor technology, has advanced rapidly in recent years, contributing to significant cost reductions and a more productive environment that supports the modern workforce.

*PointGrab is a computer vision company that provides an innovative sensing platform to the smart building industry. The company applies its superior deep-learning technology to accurately track and understand human activity and space utilization. This enables building operation efficiency optimization, higher real-estate and space utilization, and energy savings.