The numbers shown in the image above represent the % utilisation of a specific workspace over 3 consecutive time periods and highlight normal operation (green), risk of policy breach (amber) and policy breach alert (red).

For office managers, facility managers and others with responsibility for the return to work, having real-time access to workplace data can help to protect peoples lives and enable businesses and public sector organisations to return to optimal performance faster.

Here’s how.

Firstly, let me explain a little more about the numbers. These are genuine figures gathered from one specific room within a ‘normal’ office for a large client headquartered in the UK.

The data is captured using an IoT sensor installed within the room. The particular site has multiple sensors located across the client’s office giving 96% coverage of the available space.

The sensors capture over 74 data points on a second-by-second basis and routes the information to Keystone’s data warehouse (that’s a lot of data).

Keystone continues to capture the data 24 hours a day for every sensor in every room in every office. Across multiple countries. And yes, that really is a lot of data.

Just to be clear, the sensors do not capture or record individuals or personal information, so are not breaching data policies.

The numbers 21, 23 and 34 in the image show 1 hour readings captured over a 3 hour period, from 9am through to 12 noon on a Thursday. If required, the data can be segmented in smaller increments of say 15 minutes.

So in the first hour of this timeframe, the specific room was used 21% of the time or in simple terms a room with a capacity of 10 people had, on average, 2 people using it over the 60 minute period. In the 2nd hour, the utilisation increases to 23% and then to 34% in the period from 11am to 12pm.

“So what?” you might say.

In normal times, you might look at this information and say “so what”?

You might take a more macro view and look at a much more extended time period eg 3, 6 or 12 months and at the entire office space including meeting rooms, collaborative spaces, rest areas and come to the conclusion that you need less space. Or perhaps more, if the utilisation figure exceeded a specific threshold for extended periods.

Equally, the data may lead to the conclusion that your office space should be re-configured to improve productivity and use of the available space. Clever use of this type of data might even suggest that changing shift patterns could deliver significant cost savings and avoid expensive office moves, new layouts or re-negotiating leases.

How much space will you need in future?

Planning how much space is needed can be challenging at the best of times. But the current situation makes this conundrum exponentially harder to assess.

By monitoring the occupancy and utilisation of your office space, office and facility managers can make more informed decisions. The data can be analysed over the entire office space, to identify flows from one room to another. It shows time of day and days of the week so periodic highs and lows can be identified. With expert insights and clever analytics, clients can make more informed decisions.

And more informed decisions usually result in better decisions.

But consider this:

Occupancy and utilisation data can save lives.

You may have noticed in the image at the top of the page, the background colour changes from green, to amber and then to red over the 3 hour time period.

That’s because the platform has been configured to highlight specific social distancing policies.

In this particular example, the client’s current Return to Work Social Distancing Policy was to remain below 25% ie a maximum of 5 people occupying a room with a capacity of 20 people. The client also set an encroachment time period of 10 minutes, so if the total number of people occupying the room remained at 25% or below for 10 minutes or less, the status remained as ‘normal’ as represented by a green background.

If additional people entered the room and remained in the room for 10 minutes or more, the risk of a COVID breach increases to Amber. Whilst this may be considered increased risk it does not breach the client’s policy on social distancing. It is logged for audit purposes.

However, should additional people enter the room for an extended period, the system may result in a breach of policy. This increased in risk status can trigger an alert to a specific user such as an office manager or facility manager.

The alert can specify where and when the breach took place and create a task to mitigate future breaches (such as improved signage, more physical barriers or simply reminding employees or building occupants of the company policies).

Each breach is recorded to allow managers to report on the effectiveness of the Return to Work strategy.

Additionally, this approach enables employers to reassure employees that the workplace is a safe place to work.

Responsible employers who communicate openly with their people, are likely to be rewarded by a faster return to full occupancy, improved employee wellbeing and better productivity.

Assess the risk against the reward

Many companies have simply ticked the boxes to do the minimum needed to comply with policy guidance or regulations. They believe that they have protected their workforces and have an effective solution in place simply because they have:

  • deployed copious amounts of hand sanitiser around the office
  • rolled out miles of black and yellow tape to define out-of-bounds and one way systems
  • liberally scattered “2m” distancing signage around the office
  • put up physical Perspex barriers where humans may be within touching distance
  • purchased a hugely expensive gadget to check people’s temperature when they arrive at work (installed in reception)
  • implemented some clever app or software for booking socially distanced desks
  • completed a daily checklist of risks, mitigations and actions

However, these measures are not necessarily going to protect your employees in the same way as the data derived from workplace monitoring.

Go one step further and it may just save a life.

So, if you are considering how you can return to work safely, protect your employees and make sure you have the right space to return to full productivity, take a look at workplace monitoring solutions, such asĀ Keystone.

Using data to make better decisions may be the best decision you ever make.