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How Do Occupancy Sensors Work?

July 14th, 2022 | 5 min. read

How Do Occupancy Sensors Work?


VergeSense is the industry leader in providing enterprises with a true understanding of their occupancy and how their offices are actually being used.

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Occupancy sensors generate the best workplace data available, enabling your workplace experience team to make changes your employees will love.

What is an Occupancy Sensor?

Occupancy sensors are like the next generation of motion detectors. They’re smart systems built to detect the presence of people in a specific area, like an office, a building floor, or even a whole building to enable automated workflows and a better employee experience. The insights gleaned from the use of occupancy sensors can help workplace management teams better plan renovations, expansions, and right-sizing efforts, resulting in an elevated ROI.  

How do they Work?

Sensors can be made up of a variety of lenses, optic fibers, and electronic platforms, and they’re programmed to react to anything from motion to infrared heat. When the sensor is triggered by a particular stimulus, a signal is sent to the operating system and triggers anything from a light turning on, an alarm going off, or a data point being logged in a smart workplace platform. 

Occupancy sensors like the ones on the VergeSense Spatial Intelligence platform work by combining the motion-detecting power of PIR sensors with the range and accuracy of optic sensors to generate highly accurate workplace data. Wireless sensors can be installed in minutes, placed anywhere within a workplace, and they start gathering data immediately. They operate on very low power, so they won’t drive up your utility bills, and the data they capture takes up very little space.

Learn how wireless IoT sensors can provide data-driven insights to the workplace.

How many Occupancy Sensors do I Need?

In short, it depends on how big your space is. Different sensors have many different ranges, and it also depends on where they’re placed. Ceiling motion sensors might have a different range than entryway sensors, so before choosing a motion sensor company, find out how far their motion sensors can work and how you should arrange them in your office.

Here’s How Occupancy Sensors are Driving more Successful Business Operations

Occupancy sensors are much more sophisticated than other types of sensors and they bring greater benefits to a workplace management team. They offer insight into how many people are present in a space, and where in that space they are gathered.

VergeSense spatial intelligence makes the insights gleaned from these sensors much smarter. Through the detection of passive occupancy, which unlocks insight into 50% more space use than any other sensor technology on the market, workplace strategy teams and CRE managers can better understand how buildings are really being used.

Access to true occupancy data (both active and passive utilization) from occupancy sensors can guide a more accurate workplace and facility management strategy with precise control over utilities like HVAC systems, Wifi networks, and lighting, along with meeting rooms and desk reservation platforms at scale.  

By integrating spatial intelligence data into workplace management systems, every team can optimize for cost savings and the employee experience, audit systems at a glance to identify problems right away, and attribute ROI to workplace areas based on usage data — from anywhere in the world. 

Using the VergeSense Spatial Intelligence Platform, workplace strategy teams can access insights they can trust to fuel all of their business operations.

Types of Occupancy Sensors

1. Desk motion sensors: Desk sensors are placed above every desk in the building, allowing for extremely accurate desk booking that is driven by real-time data, which is more important than ever in this era of hybrid and flexible work. The data these sensors collect helps workplace strategy teams improve space planning and employee management.

2. Entryway and door motion sensors: Entryway sensors can show building and floor level utilization. Is one floor getting a lot more use than another one? It might make sense to add more amenities to the underutilized floor, or consider giving it up. 

3. Room occupancy detector: These sensors are connected to room booking platforms, ensuring better accuracy than ever and no more frustration of double-booked rooms.

4. Ceiling motion sensors: Placed in various intervals on the ceiling throughout a wide open office space, occupancy sensors can show occupancy patterns across different sections of an office's floor.

Why implement occupancy sensors?

Benefits of Occupancy Sensors for Employees

1. Convenient desk and meeting room booking

Hybrid work is more popular than ever, but ensuring that employees can do their best work from home and from the office requires investing in the right tech to help them do so. Using sensor-connected desk booking platforms like VergeSense means that an employee will never again show up to the office to find there’s no room for them to sit — no more ghosted meeting rooms and unused spaces. 

2. More personalized office spaces

With occupancy sensors, workplace strategists can design the ideal workplace for employee needs. They allow employees to vote with their actions, and improve desk ratios, the development of new spaces, and the updated workplace policies. 

Benefits of Occupancy Sensors for Companies

1. Analytics help with right-sizing

The data generated from occupancy sensors can show workplace and facilities teams which areas are going unused and might be better off leased or sold, saving the company thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) a year on unused real estate. 

2. Save on energy expenditures 

Occupancy sensors can connect to HVAC and lighting systems to let you only heat, cool, and light areas that are actually in use, cutting way back on utilities and on energy wasted. 

3. Improved overall sustainability

Two easy ways for companies to lower their carbon footprint are reducing their square footage and reducing their energy expenditure, and occupancy sensors help with both of these. And in this hot labor market, many prospective employees seek out companies with sustainability plans and climate-aware policies, so going green can also help you attract great talent. 

Learn How Occupancy Sensors can Help Your Company

Spatial intelligence insights are helping companies right-size their workplaces, rethink their use of office square footage, and improve the employee experience. Find out how spatial intelligence data is changing the ways businesses operate and improving efficiency exponentially in the 2022 State of Workplace Data Report