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The Value of Wayfinding

future of work real estate workplace management

After five articles centered around Real Estate problems, relevant data points and characteristics of the perfect solution, we switch focus and concentrate on the end-user of enterprise workplace resources, in most cases a Knowledge Worker.

On top of the core value for the Facility personas, workplace technologies make it possible to collect actionable data that may be leveraged to build delightful workflows and user experiences. A very popular key service is the Wayfinding or Indoor Map; we will see how combining occupancy data, from both rooms and desks, with an indoor positioning and navigation system, can make the difference in balancing the trade-off between employee productivity, engagement, and Real Estate cost.

Hot Desk Brought to Fruition

Let’s start by reasoning ad absurdum; imagine being the employee of a large organization with a big campus made of several large buildings. Your company suddenly decides to implement hot-desking or unassigned open seating, without deploying any technology solution to support the new workflows. The first morning after the change, you go to the office thinking about your tasks for the day, then you enter the open space area, and the problems begin:


Which desks are free for the day? Where are they? Where are my teammates today, and how can I sit close to them? I have a meeting starting in 2 min: which room is available? Where is it? How do I get there?

Without sensing capabilities and a workplace management system, it would be nearly impossible to answer these questions in an elegant way. Occupancy-related matters are intuitively handled by surfacing the resource availability (desks and rooms) in a hot-desking application, which allows users to see what rooms or desks are available and book them for the day or a specific time frame. However, occupancy alone is not enough to know where a resource is located and how to reach it efficiently. For this purpose, additional data points are required:

  • Room/Desk location on the floor plan

These are the internal coordinates of the resource. The application needs this data to guide the user towards the destination desk or room.

  • Dynamic User location on the floor plan

In order to guide the user towards the right resource, you need to be able to track his/her indoor position in near real time. Most of the time, the user location is detected and updated dynamically by tracing personal devices: laptops or smartphones.

  • Detailed floor plan with routes and constraints  

This is the map needed to guide the users. Maps may be rendered by specific wayfinding applications.

In the first post of this series, we have seen how a combination open seating and remote working generates an average 30% savings in terms of Real Estate cost. To fully enable a frictionless delightful open seating experience and foster the acceptance of the new workflows, wayfinding becomes a key component of the solution. Without it, people will incur the constant cost of manually figuring out the location of the target resource and the best route to get to it; this task is far from trivial in case of a large campus, especially if the job requires the employee to frequently move across buildings.

The ideal Wayfinding Experience

So, the “hard” value of wayfinding is not limited to enabling Facility savings. It also reduces user’s cognitive cost and, above all, the time to find out where a specific resource is located and how to reach it. Time saved for the user means higher productivity and higher satisfaction in the workplace.

How can we maximize user productivity and satisfaction?

The key is to offer an integrated approach that seamlessly leverages occupancy, resource booking and wayfinding, across all the relevant devices and tools the Knowledge Worker uses daily.

Here are a couple of use cases that require an integrated approach:

  • Escalating a video call from desk to room

The user is at the desk when receives a soft-client call that requires privacy; he/she clicks “transfer to a room” in his communication app, the wayfinding tool shows up in the foreground in navigation mode, guiding the user towards the nearest available room, which, in the meantime, has been booked automatically. Once the user arrives to destination, the soft client pairs with the room video device and the video call is seamlessly handed over to the room.

  • User check-in for a personalized hot desk

The user arrives to the office, opens the wayfinding app that suggests the best available desk based on user preferences and team location. After the user chooses the resource and books it, the wayfinding application guides him/her to destination; once at the desk, the mobile phone pairs with the workstation that gets personalized based on the user identity. E.g., desk height, phone extension, video device background, etc.

The Ideal Vendor

As we have seen in the previous article, vendors able to provide the full technology stack through an integrated solution, including collaboration devices, will have a clear competitive advantage in terms of cost of deployment (both time and money), user experiences and security.

Along with the core occupancy components of the workplace management solution, a wireless triangulation technology – or equivalent – is a must-have to enable the device tracking capabilities needed to implement wayfinding. From that perspective, in order to keep the cost low, reusing the existing infrastructure by leveraging on Access Points, or very simple HW add-ons becomes paramount.

Stay tuned! The next article of this series, Understanding the Impact of Workplace Data and Technologies, will also focus on Knowledge Workers and the value that resource booking across all spaces brings for them.

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