After a year of turmoil, we are finally able to see a hint of light at the end of the tunnel. With multiple vaccines being offered throughout the world, we’re looking at an imminent return of people into buildings that have been uninhabited or running at a drastically reduced occupancy. While some may wish that we’ll return to “normal” (whatever that may look like), we can be sure that we won’t be returning to the ways we all operated 18 months ago.
The obvious aspect of this is the office environment. Many of us that were previous expert commuters have transitioned into the lifestyle of working from home. While juggling family, children, pets and other environmental hazards, we will soon have the option to emerge out of social isolation and back into society. However, not everything about working from home makes us want to run screaming back into the haven of the office. The additional time with family, the relaxed attire, the flexible schedule, the lack of commute… it has its appeal. In fact, research says that 50 percent of workers want to continue flexible working after the pandemic, but only 25 percent want to stay fully remote. The ongoing argument about productivity vs collaboration and morale will possibly never be finished but we have seen a new model emerge out of this.
The new model is a hybrid work environment.
How companies organize schedules is yet to be seen and will surely vary greatly between industries, cities, and type of employees. While the vaccine is enabling this return to the office and giving employees and staff a boost of confidence surrounding their own health and safety, the new office doesn’t exist unless buildings are a part of the equation.
Understandably, with more moving pieces and people working in at least two different places, there needs to be more of a backbone to offices to make collaboration happen while enabling a customizable schedule. This backbone will be made available through software, but also hardware.
The software side of reenabling reentry to the office is a consolidation of data and real-time analysis with AI capabilities. The software needs to be able to access various types of information like that from reservation systems as well as real-time occupancy data to see where people are and what needs to be done to follow social distancing recommendations. Software data could even include if people have had the vaccine or not. While contact tracing did not take off or see widespread success, a history of vaccination may be a different story, and having access to that information may impact how spaces are filled within offices.
Of course, the data that software is mining for is widely sourced from sensors and other hardware – hardware still matters! Whether occupancy sensors, video feeds, visitor access turnstiles, thermometers, or many other hardware systems, this data is only as good as the sensors that are collecting it.
A big priority of these indoor spaces will be surrounding cleanliness and indoor air quality.
While we’ve spoken about indoor air quality in-depth in a recent blog, the thermometers in our old buildings simply do not give us enough information about the environment we’re in. We need to know that we’re in a place that not only isn’t making us sick, but is helping us stay healthy. Even with a vaccine, the pandemic has reprioritized and even revealed our health as something that we should be more cognizant of and buildings need to be a place that supports that.
Before people come back into buildings, whether office workers or building staff, the condition of the building and the measures that are being taken to ensure that it’s a safe place to need to be communicated. The best way to communicate this is through data and the best data is accessible across multiple silos and sources in one integrated place. That’s one reason we created Envio, to bring data together so that people who need to know information can easily access it.
We partner with the leaders in the business for sensors, reservation and booking systems, access management, and more. We bring their various data and integrate it with more like that from our own hardware to not only create a holistic and safe environment for building operators and occupants to be in, but also to optimize buildings’ energy efficiency. Did you see the case study in London where we reduced the energy consumption of a workplace by 31.20% in five months?
The new normal is still to be figured out but we know that buildings need to stay ahead of the curve. We can help you get there and stay there. Contact us to learn more.