Imagine tapping an app to request a custom latte be delivered to your desk. Picture sensors that track oxygen levels in a conference room and matrix that information against outside weather to inform automatic ventilation systems. The capabilities of the internet of things (IoT) are vast.
Thanks to IoT, the extension of the web’s connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects, the workplace is getting smarter. For many, the transformation is already underway.
Today, around 26.6 billion devices like smartphones, laptops, and computers are connected to the internet. This is predicted to jump to roughly 80 billion internet-connected devices by 2025. In the workplace, it means increased productivity, higher efficiency, better forecasting, and improved agility for occupiers.
“Sometimes there seems no limit except time and budget in what clients can ask for, but the real game changers come back to designing and installing a future-proof building operating system that empowers the technology of today and tomorrow,” says Matthew Toner, Managing Director, Smart Buildings and IoT at CBRE.
Today’s IoT brings capability to optimize the utilization of space, match resource supply and demand, and target the delivery of amenities and services. It can also improve the culture, community, and cohesion of workspaces—all while providing valuable data and insights to inform a business and drive true value for real estate managers.
Below, we highlight some of the areas where IoT is enhancing the workplace experience.
Keeping spaces comfortable
Regulating temperatures for large spaces while keeping employees content has always been challenging. Thankfully, with the help of IoT devices like temperature, light and carbon dioxide sensors, this is becoming an outdated challenge. Through integrated HVAC systems, heating and cooling can be adjusted based on occupancy and utilized zones, which reduce energy costs and lower a building’s carbon footprint. In many cases, these systems learn the space’s preferred temperature through tracking consecutive manual adjustments and specific settings.
Connecting employees to their environment
Many office workers can relate to the frustration of not being able to find the location of meeting rooms, or not finding one with availability. In fact, Gartner estimates that the average employee spends 27 hours per year looking for available spaces to meet. Offerings like CBRE Host, an experiential product suite that connects and optimizes people and spaces through tech-enabled services and community interactions, make the process easier. For example, Host’s app component can provide capabilities like turn-by-turn directions to an open conference room. Employees can also schedule meetings with colleagues, reserve workspaces, request food and beverage services, and access building repair and maintenance professionals.
Streamlining disjointed systems
Keeping workspaces operational and functional is always a priority for occupiers. Prior to the rapid advancements in IoT, buildings operated via fragmented systems. For instance, key building systems like security, HVAC, lighting and amenities typically worked within their own separate networks. With IoT connected devices, all these things can work together in an informed, streamlined ecosystem. Having IoT-connected devices can reduce wasted resources—human, financial, or actual assets.
“The goal here is to save where you can, so you can spend where you want. Clients work with us to bring their ideas to life, ensuring they are not beholden to any singular product or platform, and make their real estate align with today’s era of fast-paced, agile business mindsets,” says Toner.
Creating optimal results
While IoT initiatives can improve how we work, occupiers need experienced partners who can decipher and interpret some of the data that stems from connectivity.
Toner says, “Recognizing smart buildings are a trending topic today, our intent is to ensure we bring order, industry clarity, and value to our clients as digital transformations take hold within their often most prominent and highly impactful emanations of their brands—real estate.”