Back to the office - seeking new solutions

22nd of June 2022
Back to the office - seeking new solutions

As staff around the world return to offices, there is increased awareness about the relationship between the performance of a building and retention of staff. New technologies and IoT solutions can help to address many of the challenges – explain Simon Redgate of and Nicolai Baumberger at Soobr.

WELCOMING STAFF BACK to the office will require a new appreciation for wellness and data-driven responsiveness. Done correctly, this should see operational costs fall. Those who own, operate or lease office space have just been treated to a two-year tutorial on the fragility of conventional wisdom. Now, the changes wrought by Covid-19 are upon us.

• Corporate cultures once averse to remote or hybrid work have had to rethink their opposition
• Carefully developed strategies to hold long-term leases on central city property are being revisited
• Workplaces must adjust to the differing concerns and tastes between colleagues who came of age during the 20th century and a younger, more activist 21st century workforce.

From the ceo to the head of HR to chief sustainability officers, the pandemic has created a new awareness in the C-Suite about the relationship between the performance of a building, the wellness and productivity of its occupants, and the ability of the company to attract and retain key staff.
All of this will cost money at precisely the moment when many companies are reeling from a loss of revenue due to Covid-19.

Even companies that embrace a hybrid work model may find cost savings elusive. The maths simply don’t add up. Many are locked into long-term leases or service contracts. There are new demands for improved ventilation, lower density and more visible cleaning. And the tight labour market has put new power in the hands of workers to reshape the office experience. Your pre-pandemic budget is simply not going to cut it.

New technologies and IoT solutions can address many of these issues while also saving money. Here are just some of them:

• Room and desk occupancy monitoring to track density, traffic patterns and usage of desks, rooms and common areas
• Predictive cleaning solutions driven by data to ensure sanitised, well-supplied washrooms, labs and other spaces
• Feedback stations bring responsiveness and transparency, allowing issues to be reported before they get out of hand
• Air quality, environment and temperature monitoring solutions identify problems with airflow, humidity, CO2 build-up and uneven HVAC performance.

Seventy-three per cent of workers do not think their offices are safe, according to a March 2021 survey by Wakefield Research. Even as over 90 per cent say they miss their office environment, employees are highly concerned with air quality, density and the cleanliness of shared devices and workspaces.

Covid-19 has also increased pressure on cleaning teams and facilities managers. Ensuring buildings and offices are clean and safe for staff and visitors will be a major focus in the post-pandemic world. A lack of data and insight on how your facilities are being used will prove costly because home-office has become an integral part in the working environment.

To maintain safe and healthy workplaces companies need to adapt cleaning to the new dynamic circumstances. So cleaning in the right place at the right time is more important than ever before and rigid cleaning schedules are no longer practical.

Demand-oriented planning and execution of cleaning based on data and artificial intelligence come in to sight and bring more transparency and efficiency. Using existing service level agreement and building data as well as IoT data, the actual cleaning demand can be determined. And the fluctuation of the actual cleaning effort is considered with dynamic cleaning frequencies. So demand-orientated cleaning prevents over-fulfilment and enables cost savings.

The combined data results in dynamic route planning, which is visualised on the building plan and displayed to the cleaning staff on a mobile device. This brings a new way to get more control about the service provision, react to building occupancy and create transparency.

The pandemic has taught us all that the things we take for granted are more fragile than we thought. Density, proximity, indoor space: none of these things loomed as risks before Covid-19 emerged.

Today we know better. Understanding the dynamics of the facilities you are responsible for has never been more important. New solutions provide visibility into the operations of critical systems, the environmental performance of your interior spaces and the wellness of the people within.


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