IOT Factory

The Internet of Things has become an essential ally for Facility Managers in the dynamic management of office spaces. Space management, energy efficiency, air quality management. In this article, we will focus on optimizing costs related to office space.

We have worked on several “Smart Office” projects, and our conclusion is that IOT – or in other words, the analytical processing of data from sensors, simple to install and financially affordable – is particularly well suited to an environment composed office spaces, meeting rooms, and other living and working spaces.

IOT makes it possible to optimize workspaces.

The influence of co-working spaces on the office space trends

The organization and management of office spaces has evolved significantly in recent years. If the COVID crisis saw the concept of remote working popularized, generally from home, as an alternative or complement to working in the office, changes to the organization of work had already been implemented for some time…
Coworking spaces, which appeared in the 1990s (C-Base from 1995 in Germany, or West 24 in New York), have probably participated in the development of innovative concepts in office spaces, until then mainly composed of desks. individual (in open spaces or in isolated offices) and cafeteria/coffee corner.
Office space has become a business in its own right, and therefore the development of specific services and functionalities has appeared, to differentiate itself and attract customers, while for traditional companies, the office was ultimately just a necessity. accommodate employees.

The workplace today is very different from what it was 10 or 20 years ago. It is defined to be flexible, agile, promote collaborative work, and adapt to the different needs of its users. It must also ensure well-being. Offices without fixed allocation, quiet spaces, collaborative work spaces on a project, meeting rooms, rest areas, areas for telephone calls (or video conference), play areas… The objective is to improve efficiency work, while offering a greater level of comfort and well-being to users. If efficiency is obvious for a company, the comfort and well-being of employees obviously aims to retain employees in a competitive international environment.

IOT serving office size optimization

Office spaces represent a cost, which must be optimized. While this cost obviously varies depending on the location, type of building and interior design, it is on average between €200 and €700/m2/year in Europe.

If we consider a space of 10 to 15 m2 per employee (this depends on the number of people and the type of configuration), this gives the cost that a company allocates to office space.

The problem is that it has become difficult, today, to calculate, or even estimate, the number of employees who will define the necessary office space. Office presence has become a variable parameter:

  • Working from home (or from a co-working space closer to home) several days a week
  • Variable remote working days, depending on the person
  • Part-time workers
  • Traveling employees (technicians, salespeople, etc.)

Statista – Office space cost per square meter 

Each square meter saved allows for substantial savings (200-700€ / year). Measuring and monitoring the number of people present in offices, calculating the occupancy rate and the utilization rate, both of offices and meeting rooms, will allow better management of offices and therefore optimize the cost of these.

IOT has democratized the installation of sensors in offices and workspaces. It is now possible to place battery-powered sensors (with an autonomy of 4-10 years), without wires, in order to measure the occupancy rate (occupancy time) and the usage rate (occupied or not ) offices and meeting rooms. Unlike traditional solutions, IOT does not require complex installation or cabling, and the available standards allow competition and therefore not to be dependent on a single supplier.

Occupancy rate and office utilization rate

There are many IOT sensors for measuring presence at an office. These non-intrusive sensors respect privacy since no information on the occupant is collected.

office-space-real-time-occupancy-desk-meeting-room

Based on the measurements collected, it is possible to obtain overall indicators, for example by day of the week, or by month, on the level of office occupancy. We can obtain an occupancy rate (based on the time spent at an office) and the utilization rate (number of occupied offices). If the information, taken individually by office, is not always relevant (shared offices), the consolidation of this data on an office space, a floor, or even a building will make it possible to understand whether the dimensioning of the surfaces is compliant to the needs.

This will allow dynamic management of office spaces.

Based on these indicators, we can then take cost-saving measures, without impact on the quality of work or the comfort of the work space:

  • merge/collapse workspaces
  • change working hours from home
  • modify the schedule of certain meetings
  • modify the organization of space (more meeting/collaborative work rooms, fewer offices for example)
  • Etc.

IOT sensor types available for office space management

There are many sensors on the market. Each has its advantages or disadvantages. 

At IOT Factory, we integrate them all, because the objective is to offer the solution best suited to specific needs.

IOT-Sensors-for-smart-office-workspace

IOT sensor types available for desk presence management​

For presence detection at an office, the sensors generally work either on the basis of a PIR (Passive Infrared) sensor – the same technology used by presence sensors, used in security systems, if not that the cone and the detection distance have been reduced -, or on the basis of the detection of a micro-modification of the temperature linked to the presence of a person (body heat). These sensors are inexpensive, but must be installed at every office.

Other sensors work on the basis of a camera which analyzes the images, and thus detects the presence at an office. These sensors are more expensive (but can cover several offices) and require more sophisticated configuration.

The communication of data from these sensors is done via a low-speed, low-consumption radio network.

IOT sensor types available for meeting room management

We have 2 types of measures.

  • Either we only measure the fact that the meeting room is occupied. It is simple to implement (a PIR sensor), but it does not produce precise statistics on the number of participants in a meeting. This can be a problem, as many meeting rooms are sometimes occupied by people just looking for a “quiet” place.
  • Either we measure the number of people present. In this case, there are 2 main measurement methods. Either we count the number of people entering and leaving the room. Either a camera linked to artificial intelligence will analyze images and deliver a number of occupants. Generally speaking, none of these methods are 100% accurate. The price of the sensor will depend on the expected level of precision.

IOT sensor analytics for office occupancy management

Following the collection of data from these presence sensors (offices, meeting rooms)
, it is possible to produce dashboards and reports.

  • real-time vision of office and meeting room occupancy
  • occupancy rate (based on the measurement of busy/free time, during office opening hours) by office, group of offices, meeting rooms. This occupancy rate will make it possible to understand trends (evolution) over time, but also to understand variations during the day, calm/constrained days, etc.
  • utilization rate, which gives a view of the frequency of occupation of workspaces.

All these statistics will make it possible to better adapt the surfaces and optimize the occupied spaces, which will result in substantial savings.

Savings expected from dynamic management of office spaces thanks to IOT

If we take an average cost of €450/m2/year in office spaces (in Europe, between €200 and €700/m2/year),

Let’s take an office space designed for 50 people. With a surface area of 10m2 / person. We therefore obtain a total surface area of 500m2. That is to say a total annual cost for this space of minimum €250 x 500 = €125,000/year.

If the analysis of the occupancy and use of the offices allows us to reorganize the space to accommodate only 40 people (at any time), we can reduce the space by 10 x 10m2, = 100 m2 , so 100 x 450€ = 4500€. This annual saving must obviously be compared to the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of deploying IOT sensors and analytical workspace management software, which is much lower (less than €3,000/year in this case), whereas this deployment will also make it possible to support other use cases, at a low incremental cost, such as for example air quality management, or building energy optimization.

It is therefore not surprising that IOT is becoming popular in offices. It makes workspaces smarter and more comfortable, while allowing significant financial savings.

Read more about our solutions for Smarter Buildings.