The InnerSpace Solution: A Q&A with InnerSpace CEO James Wu

real estate, News, Workplace Experience

From Collision to Queens University and the upcoming DC5G, our CEO James Wu has enlightened audiences across North America about how we’re dramatically changing the way indoor space is used – and the powerful benefits it brings to companies. 

We caught up with James between travel to get his thoughts on our company’s progress and why indoor location is the way of the future.


Q: Where did the idea for InnerSpace come from?

On a trip to New York City in 2014, I decided to visit The Met. Inside, I was handed a pamphlet with a map meant to help me navigate my way around. Yet, in actuality, the map did not help me much as I struggled to find exhibits inside the cavernous museum. 

In Manhattan, I began to wonder: what is so fundamentally different about indoor spaces compared to outdoor spaces when it comes to wayfinding? While I can easily use sophisticated satellite technology to explore outdoor landmarks, inside I still rely on a piece of paper. 

This was the genesis for InnerSpace. I took my 20 years of experience building technology solutions, built a small team, and got to work.


Q: Why does InnerSpace focus so much effort on indoor location in office space?

In North America alone, there is 95 billion square feet of commercial real estate. Take just corporate offices, and that correlates to a $150-billion market. 

Yet, research shows up to 41% of that space, paid for, sits unused. That means over $60 billion paid by businesses each year in real estate costs goes to literally nothing. 

The tendency these days is not to figure out how to combat this problem, but in fact to experiment with new models of work such as hot-desking and hotelling. In doing so, companies seek to limit the square feet of space needed by each employee.  

So, businesses are physically compressing themselves, yet they still pay vast sums of money for space that is unused. This quandary can be eliminated by InnerSpace technology.


Q: Why are so many companies moving towards flexible work solutions if it's not always a great solution?

One square foot of prime corporate office space in a big city can cost more than $100 a year. A decade ago, companies were averaging 200 square feet per employee. Now that number is 170, and many are striving for 120. On its face, the strategy to reduce each worker’s footprint – through policies like flexible work arrangements – seems logical. But sometimes it can risk harming the employee experience as well as productivity. 

For example, we already know that finding meeting space can be a pain for office workers. 

Research shows that 90 per cent of  employees waste up to 30 minutes a day searching for an open room. This problem amplifies inside shared work environments, where desks are unassigned and colleagues may be in different places each day. Large companies have deep staff, so this wasted time can get expensive fast. 

Now this isn’t to say that flexible working solutions are a bad thing. There are of course benefits too. We simply know that indoor location technology offers newfound vantage points, to see the forest for the trees when it comes to company policies, productivity trends and the best use of space.


Q: How does InnerSpace help companies make the most of their real estate?

We have the world’s first sensor that uses the signals from cell phones, integrates mapping, location and positioning. By embedding them in a building, InnerSpace understands the movement of people in an indoor space over time.

But data is nothing without insight. This new data from sensors flows into our software, where machine learning reveals where people spend time, how they move through a space, and generally how a building is used. 

Here’s one critical insight: our own clients in offices, food services and sport stadiums are wasting an average of 27% of their usable space. 

Insights are nothing without action. Companies use InnerSpace analytics and insights to test whether changing layouts can make better use of the space they pay a premium to operate inside. Our tech can tell them if the change was successful or not, and they can either implement that redesign or keep experimenting.

In this way, employee experience and productivity are kept top of mind, and are not squeezed to the margins. And vast sums of money paid to real estate companies is not lost but, instead, invested.


If you’d like to book James for an event or learn more about how InnerSpace can work for your company, get in touch