We predict that spatial intelligence will be a C-Suite priority in 2022 and onward. As the office becomes increasingly agile, employees today are autonomous to choose where, when and how they would like to work, whether it may be in a different continent, or in a coworking space down the street. This newfound expectation of personal choice is fast changing space utilization across corporate real estate portfolios.
With this new agility, employees will occupy space more passively and with an increased degree of unpredictability. Without tools in place to measure this occupancy, we are left with unmeasured and therefore unoptimized space. This is where the need for spatial intelligence comes in- to remain truly adaptable to these changes, enterprises need to have tools in place to continuously collect employee data to make informed decisions.
Why Spatial Intelligence Is a Priority
In the past, business leaders have only scratched the surface in understanding physical space. In fact, in many cases, they didn’t understand their physical space at all, including how it’s changing or how it’s being used, or the steps necessary to better serve the people using it.
This limited understanding was sufficient when workplace norms, such as assigned seating, working in-person at a building, and the 40-hour work week, remained consistent and dependable. In fact, most leaders relied on these workplace norms to build real estate management and operations as we know it.
Today, a new norm has formed: the expectation of personal choice. And that means how space is used from now on is dictated by a series of seemingly unpredictable in-the-moment decisions, like “I’m working from home because I feel like it” or “ I am bringing my whole team together on Wednesday because I want to.”
And without the foundation to understand what’s going on and what to do about it in real-time, the consequence is high. Without that understanding, we can’t evolve space to match how it’s being used, and so spaces are wasteful, costly, inefficient, poorly sustainable, and worse – don’t even properly serve the people using them. If you go to a space and can’t achieve the objective you were set out to do, that space has failed.
The only way forward is to fully understand physical space, how it’s changing, and how people are using it in real-time, and use that to identify patterns and make predictions – with the expectation that those patterns could change by the year, month, or day. We also need to expect that one company’s patterns may be completely different from another company. Not only that, but they can also differ by region, building, business unit, team, on and on.
The level of understanding is called spatial intelligence. Let’s go deeper into what spatial intelligence is, and what its impact on the business world will be.
How Businesses Leverage Spatial Intelligence
Spatial Intelligence the ability to identify patterns, create insights and make predictions across physical space and the way people use it.
CRE leaders, the C-Suite, and people operations teams can then leverage this data-driven understanding of how space is used to improve how the building and facilities are managed, while optimizing existing spaces. Through spatial intelligence, businesses are able to make decisions that prioritize sustainability in the workplace, employee experience, and improve the ROI of the company as a whole.
Businesses can use spatial intelligence data to:
Improve the sustainability and eco-friendliness of building operations
Improve the employee experience and increase the use of corporate spaces
Maintain safety and comfort in the workplace
Identify opportunities to increase efficiency
Optimize real estate portfolios based on space use
Address unpredictable workplace attendance and behavior patterns
IoT-connected technologies are creating the bridge between the virtual and physical, transforming offices as they exist today by providing people counting systems that capture employee behavior patterns. These innovations are founded on new types of business intelligence data, which allows individuals to “vote with their feet,” using building scanning technology and people counting tools to map their actions. At the heart of this revolutionized approach to space and real estate rests spatial intelligence.
Why Are Spatially Intelligent Buildings the New Standard?
People thrive in spatially intelligent buildings, and that’s because CRE leaders use that intelligence to constantly adapt space and power workplace applications that seemingly predict people’s needs.
A spatially intelligent building is defined as a place that’s designed and operated to realize it's full potential to serve the people who use it. By understanding the space, how people use it and how both change over time, the building can predict how to optimize operations, improve sustainability and create the ideal experience for people to achieve their goals.
Today, in successful and innovative organizations, leaders understand space using data. Data drives building redesigns, amenities, the use of corporate spaces, and real estate decisions. And rather than using employee surveys alone, or what C-Suite and HR teams think is the best way to use spaces, spatial intelligence provides the data to guide decisions that truly serve employees.
Companies are gathering information about the ways that their employees use their thousands or millions of square feet of corporate spaces to better understand how their needs have changed.
Maximize employee experience by changing space allocations
Improve safety with real-time people counting and tracking
AI-Powered Smart Building Solutions
The use of spatial intelligence is becoming integral to company function, performance, and ROI, and will become increasingly important with shifting employee behaviors in the workplace. Leadership teams need to invest in smart building solutions that use artificial intelligence (AI.) Why? They become smarter over time, process large quantities of information, and can flag concerns in real-time so that CRE leaders and C-Suite members can be efficient and maximize innovation.
AI-powered smart building solutions like efficient utility systems, integrated desk and meeting room apps, and people detection software improve the overall employee experience at scale. This key priority for leaders as they look towards buildings of the future will only rely more and more on AI as employee behaviors become more flexible and unpredictable.
Additional Use Cases for Spatial Intelligence
Spatial intelligence tools are the next generation of workplace insights as they encompass employee behavior patterns and building efficiency data — they will serve as the source of truth for workplace strategy teams. The pandemic accelerated the advancement of smart buildings and AI-powered office management solutions, but the push towards hybrid work and flexible work were in motion long before 2020.
With access to new spatial intelligence solutions, companies can unlock opportunities to save money and, more importantly, increase employee happiness, productivity, and performance while maintaining safety and being environmentally conscious.
Here are some of the applications that spatial intelligence will facilitate in 2022:
Safety measures and facilities cleaning
Employee attendance, including passive space utilization
Real estate portfolio optimization
Sustainability and ESG priorities
How Spatial Intelligence Impacts Business Strategy and ROI
The pandemic has revealed that employees’ use of space is perpetually shifting and will continue to evolve. With return to office plans changing by the day, it is imperative to have tools in place to monitor and measure office utilization and attendance. Without this smart data, enterprises make decisions based on assumptions, resulting in enormous sunk costs and compromising the employee experience. Spatial intelligence eliminates this unpredictability while offering employees the tools to make their office experience, whether at-home or in person, as frictionless as possible.