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Using Occupancy Forecast and Predictive Maintenance to Keep the Workplace Healthy

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Jason Pohl

Occupancy forecasting in office buildings has historically been performed to reduce energy use and increase efficiency. Then came Covid-19, which repositioned occupancy forecasting as a valuable health and safety strategy. Today, forecasting technology is playing a central role in bringing employees back to the workplace while redefining what the workplace looks like. Investing in smart building management platforms that combine occupancy forecasts and predictive maintenance well-positions the workplace to accommodate changing needs and create healthy spaces where businesses flourish.

Hybrid Work and the Future of Office Buildings 

In a 2020 survey, 82% of company leaders said that they would allow employees to work remotely even after the Covid-19 pandemic ended. Since then, however, the challenges associated with remote work have become more evident. Issues like isolation from colleagues, damage to company culture, and weaker workplace relationships can have a serious impact on both individual employees and businesses as a whole. As a result, many employers are now embracing hybrid work models that involve both remote and onsite work. 

A recent Gartner survey supports this approach, noting:

  • Companies that insist on exclusively onsite work fully will likely lose talent 
  • Hybrid models make workplaces more diverse, equitable, and inclusive
  • Workplaces that focus on flexible, human-centered work arrangements increase employee engagement and productivity 

Hybrid workplaces have significant advantages for business leaders and employees. They also have a dramatic impact on office buildings. 

How Occupancy Forecasts Make Buildings Healthier

Office spaces have traditionally functioned to accommodate full-time workers. The proliferation of hybrid work means workplaces must behave in new ways to meet changing needs, remain effective, and stay healthy. Occupancy forecasting is a powerful tool in this endeavor. 

Using data gathered from occupancy sensors, a smart building management platform can reliably predict future occupancy. This information helps make office square footage more efficient and ensures building automation strategies support a healthy indoor environment, even when occupancy varies drastically.

With occupancy forecasts, a smart building management platform can:

  • Automatically adjust HVAC settings to ensure comfort and air quality are maintained at a level sufficient for the number of occupants
  • Automatically adjust lighting to occupant needs
  • Eliminate unnecessary heating, cooling, ventilation, and illumination of unoccupied areas
  • Identify areas that need improvement
  • Provide valuable information to improve space utilization

Occupancy forecasts can provide valuable data for workplace apps that allow employees to reserve cubicles, conference rooms, desks, offices, and other workspaces. This is similar to how hotels forecast daily, monthly, quarterly, and annual occupancy and allocate rooms based on their predictions. For this reason, it is often referred to as “office hoteling.” 

Unlike traditional offices where each employee has an assigned area, office hoteling allows workers to reserve space whenever they plan to be in the office. This approach gives businesses the opportunity to scale their workspace to their needs, even as those needs change. Office hoteling can optimize space utilization, drive efficiency-focused reconfiguration strategies, and refine resource allocation.

Office hoteling is also an innovative and effective way to maintain healthy indoor environments. By limiting capacity and strategically distributing occupants within spaces, it is easier for occupants to adhere to social distancing recommendations and Covid-related restrictions. 

The Role of Predictive Maintenance

Occupancy predictions can play a key role in keeping office spaces healthy as the workplace becomes home to the hybrid office. However, predictive maintenance is also essential to optimizing safety. 

Predictive maintenance anticipates problems based on data and allows you to take action to prevent equipment malfunctions. That means you’re not waiting until air quality is already compromised or disrupting workplaces to make emergency repairs. Instead, anomalies are addressed before they have a chance to affect building health and performance.

Predictive maintenance also goes beyond building systems. Accurate occupancy forecast allows you to anticipate the cleaning and sanitation needs of each area of the workplace and allocate resources accordingly. In a time when occupants are more health-focused than ever before, this is essential to ensuring they feel safe in the office.

The Best Tools for Occupancy Forecast and Predictive Maintenance

Occupancy forecast and predictive maintenance rely on cutting-edge smart technologies. A smart building solutions expert will give you the guidance you need to select the best tools for your building. With their knowledge and experience, you can ensure your building provides a healthy environment for evolving workplaces.

Buildings IOT offers the solutions and services you need for reliable occupancy forecast and predictive maintenance. Contact our team of experts to find out how we can help you create a healthier building.  

 

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