This week rail strikes have brought much of the UK to a standstill but in an age where we have become accustomed to Zoom calls and working from home, maybe this time it has less of an impact on today’s workforce. Does the fact that much of the workforce can work anywhere mean we need dynamic buildings that can adapt to a dynamic workforce?
Hybrid working is something that has been spoken about a lot over the past year or so as everyone reimagines what the world of laptop-based work will look like as we move into the future. Hybrid working allows the flexibility to choose where we work and maybe this also makes us more resilient to disruptions that used to affect our working days. Strikes, delays, bad weather and the general woes of commuting. Post covid restrictions in the UK, we waited to see if there would be a rush back to the office or if hybrid working really has been embraced. 3 months on from the last of the restrictions; it seems like the latter.
All of this brings about another consideration; how do we ensure that offices are as dynamic as our workforce, catering for the needs of an office at full capacity and limiting waste when the office is at low capacity or even empty?
One way is to put in certain days that staff should be in the office, creating consistency and allowing better planning of resources. But this goes against the whole idea of flexibility and hybrid working.
Traditionally buildings have not been that dynamic. However, a couple of trends that started to take off pre-pandemic, and have only been accelerated since, are changing that.
Flexible working is becoming more popular to the extent that landlords and developing their own flex brands and the uptake of IoT is giving us greater insights into how space is being used and the performance of buildings.
So how does this mean we can make buildings as dynamic as our workforce?
In the future buildings should dynamically be able to adapt HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning), lighting, energy sources, maintenance and cleaning schedules as well as consumables orders and a whole host of other operational activities.
We can only do this by consolidating data from across sources (IoT devices or software such as meeting room booking systems or door access) so that we have a full overview of how space is being used at any given time. This allows us to make better decisions, whether that is done by humans or AI. Depending on the outcome required, one may be better than the other.
At Incube Space we are utilising this data to build autoML models that can support facilities teams by analysing the real-time data around how space is being used to predict needs in the future (from minutes to hours to days).
Our CubeOS platform monitors space utilisation changes from changes in capacity use to which zones. Using past data CubeOS can tell how temperature or CO2 levels for example is likely to change and at what rate. Using this info CubeOS communicates to the Building Management System (BMS) recommended changes to the HVAC so that, in this example, the ventilation and cooling can be set to counter the expected rise. The outcome is optimal indoor air quality and thermal comfort with no peaks and troughs. Additionally, by pro-actively adapting the HVAC, less airflow and cooling are required drastically reducing energy waste with better results for occupiers.
This is one example of what can be done to make buildings more dynamic and I’m sure there are many working on some of the other use cases mentioned earlier.
With more data at our fingertips, the key to making data-driven decisions is better accessibility and visualisation of the insights and impact of decisions.
If you’re keen to learn more about how a dynamic building can benefit landlords and tenants, get in touch and we’ll be happy to a range of relevant case studies across industries and use cases.
Or jump right in and order a smart building starter kit here without the need to raise a Purchase Order.