Two years ago, estimates from the Gates Foundation said the number of buildings worldwide would double by 2060, and the International Data Corporation reported that there would be 75 billion connected devices by 2025. In one survey by Wired Score, 77% of tenants said they would sign a longer lease in a building with a superior infrastructure to manage them all.
But the pandemic changed things. Our increased reliance on a myriad of technologies has changed our needs — and expectations of — the workplace.
What happens next?
Most employees worked in office buildings prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now a large portion of the workforce has been working remotely. As we journey back into the office building, whether full-time or hybrid, health and safety will not only be our top priorities, but also the greatest accelerators for the Internet of Things (IoT).
When addressing health and safety concerns, there is a range of strategies. On one end, doing nothing is not an effective strategy to move forward and keep people protected. On the other end, it’s important not to over-pivot and create inefficiencies that could hinder workflow or make life difficult for employees and customers.
Meeting in the middle to pivot and shift into the right solution for you will require processes and devices that will entail additional usage of your network.
A Layered Approach to Health and Safety
There are many means available to help prepare a work environment to combat the spread of a virus and meet the needs of the future. These include:
• Hazard elimination
• Personnel substitution
• Engineering controls
• Administrative controls
• Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Each of these methods can help solve part of the problem, but the ideal way to protect the health and safety of your people is to take a measured, layered approach that incorporates them all.
A layered approach to health and safety can include:
• Initiating a hybrid system that sees employees working from the office as well as their homes
• Designating core staff that must be in place for smooth business operations
• Optimizing building ventilation, filtration, and purification systems to ensure fresh air flows freely
• Implementing administrative controls to oversee scheduling and seating
• Using appropriate PPE to help reduce the risk of infection while in shared spaces
As companies pivot and establish their plans to re-enter the office, there are myriad solutions to help support them, from PPE and thermal imaging, to anti-microbial door hardware, UV lighting and IoT devices.
It’s About the Infrastructure
The various systems that make up a modern building have very contrasting lifespans and are specified and designed by different stakeholders. IT equipment such as switches, servers and storage are replaced within relatively short windows of three to five years, compared to HVAC systems which can reach up to 25 years.
Where the network has long been a vital business system, it is rapidly becoming an experience system, based on users’ expectations of seamless connectivity and data. With this dynamic change happening in the market, we must take a holistic view of the building technologies, subsystems, and devices that can be supported across a common building platform.
A design methodology that incorporates a utility-grade infrastructure can extend distances, enhance active-zone architectures, and optimize a variety of topologies to create modular plug terminated links (MPTL) for direct-connected devices. In short, it allows more devices and flexibility over a larger area.
Future Success Starts With Infrastructure
Digitally enabled return-to-office solutions will ultimately offer building managers, owners and operators better management, usability, security, insights and cost savings of their environment. And for those solutions to succeed, the infrastructure will certainly matter, both now and in the future.