Guest post by Chuck Piccirillo, Head of Strategy & IoT Partnerships, OSRAM
Between the emergence of cloud-based video-conferencing, the rise of the distributed workforce and the proliferation of connected devices and co-working spaces, the future of work is a hotly debated topic with technological advances cropping up on what feels like a daily basis. One audience that’s closely watching all of these developments and others is facilities managers and space planners, who are working to keep pace with the needs of a modern business.
An often overlooked component of this conversation is capacity planning, including how the intersection of light and technology can play a key role in the transformation of managing – and maximizing – the work space by effectively designing and planning for this new age of work. With this in mind, I have outlined key areas of capacity planning that benefit facilities managers and space planners by leveraging smarter lighting technology.
Capacity planning not only can save on operational costs but it can teach an organization a lot about the behavior of the people that occupy these facilities, whether they are long-term inhabitants or visitors. An integral, perhaps surprising, part of capacity planning is light, which one could argue is the single source of truth on what is happening in a given space. Lighting is everywhere and a sensor-laden lighting system can provide troves of data on occupant movement, conference room usage, high traffic areas that create congestion and more. The following outlines how facility managers and space planners are leveraging light to strategize and execute optimal capacity planning and space utilization in either a new building or an existing space.
Software-based Technology Infrastructure
It may seem daunting, but the first and most vital place to begin effective capacity planning is with a software-based lighting system that leverages an open architecture and is primarily based on standards. This type of system creates a technology infrastructure that offers a high degree of flexibility. It can incorporate sensors in two different ways: by introducing new fixtures with integrated sensors, or retrofitting existing ceilings and walls with standalone sensors that connect to the system.
While new fixtures with integrated sensors are the best option for supplying much needed data to the software-based infrastructure, certain buildings, such as historical sites and universities, require planners to work within the existing four walls, so standalone sensors that connect to the lighting system can be a more realistic alternative. A trusted lighting partner is crucial for advising and determining the best course of action in designing and building out this technology infrastructure.
While it may seem obvious, space optimization is innately data-driven. However, until recent technological advances, accurate data about a space was difficult to acquire or was unavailable. Thankfully, those days have passed. Today, space planners and facilities managers are able to leverage software-based connected lighting systems to access vast, anonymized data lakes on the environment and occupant behavior in a space. Sophisticated data science and machine-learning algorithms are then used on the real-time sensor data mined to provide insights about space utilization and devise optimization plans.
Multiple Stakeholders Benefit
Capacity planning and space optimization has benefits for multiple stakeholders. For organizations to remain competitive, they must control costs and boost business outcomes. In order to accomplish this in a sustainable way, organizations must continually rethink the amount of physical space required to accommodate staff and a changing workforce. Whether companies need to adjust the way they manage private offices, open-plan seating, conference rooms or other amenities, the amount of space of all types is under increasing scrutiny. Flexible work arrangements, M&A activity, corporate divestitures and a more mobile workforce means the needs of office space is changing, sometimes on a daily basis. No business wants to pay for unused space, nor can they afford to have space that is too cramped or poorly designed that affects employee productivity.
Commercial office space and the amenities offered have become very competitive with workers and potential employees. Being ‘connected’ to other people and applications that support the space is the new norm, with some segments of the workforce requiring the latest technologies and applications from an office and employer—or they go elsewhere. They want spaces and services that will help them be successful by supporting their task requirements and workstyles. Capacity planning can lead the way for additional space optimization applications, for example, as conference room optimization. Rightsizing the number and size of your conference rooms can lead to a better balance between supply and demand for meeting space. This helps employees be more collaborative and productive, affecting your bottom line.
It is easy to overlook the connection between a connected lighting system and capacity planning as well as other smart building applications. A connected lighting system can be the first step in creating a smart building and capacity planning can be one of the first smart building applications implemented alongside a smart lighting solution. As buildings get smarter and organizational needs evolve, lighting technologies are arming building planners with the information necessary to keep pace and meaningfully contribute insights to the larger organization. Whether planning a new building or reconfiguring a current one, don’t lose sight of what light can do.