In cities across America, office towers are vacant. Museums are empty. Sports are cancelled. Live events postponed. Many of us, the ones who can, have put outdoor adventures and office life on hold to help stop the spread of an extremely contagious virus. The escalating health and economic consequences of COVID-19 are ones we will talk about for a very long time.
We don’t yet know the full extent of how COVID-19 will change businesses. Some experts speculate that many people will never return to a physical office, while others predict that flex work programs will still encourage employees to visit the office to combat loneliness, improve collaboration and communication, and eliminate the self-censorship that is often seen in online communications. We expect that each company will be unique, based on the product/service they provide, their established culture, and knowledge of how their employees best perform.
For consumer-facing businesses like retailers and public venues like shopping malls, museums and sports stadiums, the ability to optimize throughput while managing social distancing strategies will become a critical balance to successfully retain customers and maximize revenue.
Whatever this new normal, it will force every business to reconsider how they use physical buildings. For many companies, this will also mean reviewing their portfolios and implementing radical cost reductions. The time is now to start planning for the return of workers to offices, customers to stores, students to colleges, and fans to stadiums. It’s time for businesses to be hyper-critical of the space they occupy and, more than ever before, ensure that space is working for them.
As companies initiate novel flex work programs, and focus on supporting their employees, they will need to measure their programs to eliminate biases in what is certain to be an uncertain time. Data will be critical to measuring program performance and making adjustments.
How indoor location technology can help
Key to making a building work for the business is to retrofit it with technology that pinpoints the precise movement of people in its spaces. Analyzing how employees or customers use that space enables operators to make informed decisions to boost efficiency, drive sales, improve productivity, and enhance public safety.
The InnerSpace platform can help:
- Understand traffic patterns indoors: By measuring how many people visit, how often, and where they tend to migrate establishes a baseline for people’s behavior. Then, you can predict their future behavior and model the space to best serve these patterns. Adjusting operations and layouts so that resources and services are stacked where they are needed most improves efficiency, bolsters productivity, and boosts sales.
- Assess true real estate needs: When offices reopen, coming to terms with real estate expenses may be important. Precision indoor location technology reveals how much space you realistically need by visualizing how your space is being used. Spaces can be reconfigured to maximize efficiency and save costs such as cleaning if certain office zones weren’t used that day. Property owners can tie pricing models to utilization and provide new insights to their tenants and prospects.
- Drive greater revenue: It’s hard to imagine a stadium full of 50,000 people or a shopping mall teeming with holiday shoppers right now, but that day will come again. Commercial property owners can plan now to welcome back consumers and fans with a more enjoyable experience – one that also drives much-needed revenue streams. Indoor location technology can direct customers to new products and services, measure sales and issues impacting purchasing decisions, help retailers position key products in readily-seen locations, adjust staffing needs, and more.
- Support public health measures: Our new InFORCE solution analyzes the movement of people in a public space in the interests of public health and safety. It can identify buildings where social distancing needs to be better supported, reveal pedestrian traffic in public spaces such as subway stations, and provide patient tracking measures to officials who must identify where an infected individual has been. It can help any building that may need to abide by official guidelines regarding physical separation into the future – and protects privacy while doing so.
- Future-Proof Security and Operations: Having an always-on awareness of where and when people spend the most time in a building, as well as real-time patterns of movement, provides fundamental data that can inform ongoing security and operations. For instance, entire buildings can become Smarter using existing WiFi networks.
Things... will get better
These are rare days. The longer that offices, shops and stadiums remain empty, the impact of lost revenue will mount. But things will get better – and now is the time to prepare for when the lights inevitably come back on.
By using existing WiFi infrastructure, businesses can take advantage of the most accurate indoor location data available on the market today – and realize both revenue relief and cost savings when we get to the new normal.
In parts two and three of this series we will explore how offices and stadiums need to think outside the box to optimize their businesses on the other side.