Managing office facilities can be incredibly demanding, says Bengt Lundberg.

Above and beyond keeping a building safe and functioning, businesses face the requirement of optimising workspaces, keeping them hazard-free and as healthy as possible, with the best airflow, temperature, and light conditions.

At the same time, they need to be mindful of sustainability and cost-efficiency. When you add the irregularity of hybrid working into the mix, you have got many variables to manage.

Occupancy monitoring is gaining traction as the simplest and most effective solution.

What is occupancy monitoring, and how can it support sustainability and workplace wellbeing?

Occupancy monitoring relies upon deploying small smart sensors to determine how and when a space is used. Helping managers to form a picture of average daily routines, they create an overview of building usage, which desks and meeting rooms are occupied and when, whether restrooms, staff rooms, and communal areas are used, and whether resources are being effectively deployed throughout the working week.

For businesses that use a hot-desking system, it can provide insights into which desks are available and whether a space is being used efficiently. For all businesses, it can provide the data necessary to create the healthiest, safest, and most comfortable workspace while reducing waste and cost.

How do occupancy monitors work?

Occupancy monitors come in various forms, using different means to detect a person’s presence. The earliest models used audio and/or video equipment, but while some systems still use this monitoring method, it is considered  highly invasive, intruding upon worker privacy. This throws up many problems, including employee trust issues and violating the rights of their workers, which is why more advanced systems are now favoured. New occupancy monitors use methods such as temperature, motion, and proximity to gather anonymised data. These technologies allow you to ascertain whether a space is used and by how many people, without intrusion, and there are other benefits, too.

With the right system, you can also track other points of interest. With added ambient temperature and air quality monitoring, you can directly influence employee well-being and productivity. With touch sensors designed to collect occupant feedback, you empower employees to quickly and easily address points of concern, so, if unexpected problems arise – broken facilities, a cleaning emergency – they need only press a button to call for assistance.

With data available instantly, occupancy monitoring also enables businesses to take a proactive approach to facilities management, which enables the simpler achievement of sustainability goals. When you can find out exactly when and where light and heat are needed, you can actively reduce unnecessary consumption. Importantly, you can do this without compromising your working conditions and, as a result, lower energy consumption and reduce operating costs.

Can occupancy monitoring work for all businesses?

As technology has evolved, sensors have become smarter. There is no longer the need for complex installation or challenging integration, with some sensors having a peel-and-stick interface, a long battery life, and wireless connectivity, almost anyone can deploy them anywhere. The analytics software is designed for simple, intuitive navigation, meaning that any business can benefit from the informed decision-making and control that occupancy monitoring delivers.

But more than that, occupancy monitoring brings achievable, noncompromising sustainability one step closer. Helping workplaces to effectively balance comfort, safety, and productivity with the reduction of energy-hungry utilities, allowing for significant waste and cost reduction and data-driven decision-making, without negatively impacting employees.

Bengt Lundberg is the CEO of Disruptive Technologies.