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How IoT Data Enables Smart Office and Desk Utilization Decisions

11 December 2019 / by Byron BeMiller

How IoT Data Enables Smart Office and Desk Utilization DecisionsReal estate is the second highest operating expense for employers behind salaries. At the same time, the workforce is rapidly transitioning into an “anytime, anywhere” work ethos. Despite these realities, little has changed in the way office space is utilized. As a result, very expensive office space is going unused. Worse still, without adequate data to prove otherwise, facility managers often request additional budget to lease even more space due to the belief that they are out of room in their existing facilities.

Research by global real estate services firm CBRE also shows that millennials consider the overall workplace experience as a determining factor in accepting a place of employment. Millennials view their office as not just a place of work, but also as a community where they can engage.

In short, a number of factors are contributing to the move towards a more activity-based work environment:

  • The rise of a mobile and/or remote workforce
  • Flexible desk sharing to reduce operating expenses
  • The growing acceptance of shared office space to enhance collaboration
  • Millennial expectations for a modern and digital workplace

Until recently, the task of ensuring available space by monitoring desk and meeting room utilization has been a logistical challenge for many facility and real estate teams. The advent of new low power wireless connectivity and unobtrusive GDPR-compliant occupancy sensors are replacing cumbersome manual tactics to solve this problem.

How IoT Data Can Help

OpenSensors, a leading provider of next generation building management systems, embraced this trend and offers tools to modern facility managers to enable more informed decisions based on tangible data. One of the main considerations for a smart building system is how to reliably transmit signals from sensors to gateways and then to the Cloud-based platform. Technologies such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi have a troubled history of propagation and frequency issues inside buildings. For this reason, sensors leveraging Semtech’s LoRa® devices and the LoRaWAN® protocol were found to be the ideal solution as they:

  • Deliver low power, long range sensing capabilities
  • Are easy to install (small 1.5 inch wireless sensors)
  • Offer a very long battery life (up to 10 years on a single charge)
  • Are based on an open standard with proven security reliability


In the case of meeting rooms, many studies show that the average utilization rate of a meeting room is 60 percent of capacity. Up to 30 percent of the time a room is booked it goes completely unused.

BLOG_OpenSensors_4_2019For desks, companies categorize their workforce as anchored, semi-agile or agile. Anchored workforces average more than 80 percent desk occupancy, semi-agile averages 50 to 80 percent while fully agile workforces average less than 50 percent. Each of these scenarios dictate person-to-desk ratios ranging from 1:1 to 1:2. Imagine the cost savings which can be realized!

With OpenSensors’ platform, all data is analyzed and made available on a dashboard accessible by the user.

BLOG_OpenSensors_5_2019OpenSensors Dashboard

Massive Cost Savings Potential

As an example, if a business has 100 employees with 100 desks and the average utilization is determined to be 50 percent, the business can make improvements to increase occupancy for the 50 desks that are not consistently in use. Improving occupancy by even 10 percent would make a significant impact. At a cost of $15,000 per workstation, such as in Silicon Valley, reallocating 10 fixed desks to a sharing strategy with flexible desks or a hoteling policy would generate savings of $150,000 per year.

To learn more about OpenSensors’ solution, visit the OpenSensors website or download our white paper:



Semtech, the Semtech logo and LoRa are registered trademarks or service marks of Semtech Corporation or its affiliates.

Topics: LoRa, Smart Homes & Buildings, Wireless RF, Internet of Things, Smart Buildings, ESG

Written by Byron BeMiller


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