Poor data on office space use lead to inflexible work.

Flex the desks.

Many managers are still relying on gut feeling or flawed systems to make important real estate decisions according to Abintra. The company, which has pioneered the use of sensors to measure office use, says the rising popularity of agile working has seen many firms reorganise their workplaces to attract and retain the best people. They also add flexible working can also save money by cutting the amount of expensive real estate that firms own or rent.

However, one of the reasons firms are falling at the first hurdle towards flexibility is because they do not understand how they currently use their office space. That leads to flexible solutions that don’t work because they don’t offer enough of the right kinds of spaces or because they inflate or deflate the amount of real estate that an organisation actually needs.

Abintra recently published a report on emerging trends in occupancy management listing unreliable methods being used to assess usage statistics. These included manual clipboard studies and video tracking of people coming into or leaving an office space. The former doesn’t allow for detailed analysis of work patterns while the latter doesn’t deliver data on individual desk use. Abintra favours the use of infrared sensors mounted to the underside of work surfaces to detect presence. It offers fast-track surveys using the technology to give managers in-depth data in four weeks.

Tony Booty, a Director of the company, says: “Unlike sensors attached to individuals or systems that rely on using employees’ phones, it is a non-invasive solution, making it easier to win staff approval.”

Once flexible working is implemented, the same technology can be used to generate a live floor plan. This allows staff to work flexibly by seeing where space to work is available and choosing different places to work within the office depending on what they are working on or just the mood that they are in. 

With the launch of a new combined sensor, Abintra can also provide data on key environmental metrics as well as space utilisation, such as temperature and air quality. That allows facilities managers to deliver high levels of comfort for office users while helping to reduce energy waste.

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