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Does Your Office Need Indoor Positioning? 

Things To Consider When Moving Back Into The Office In 2021

Who misses the office work banter, strolling to the watercooler to have chats with workmates, rushing into meetings, nipping out for a quick coffee, and of course not having to jump on five different Zoom, Teams, or Webex meetings?! Hands up if that’s you! 

The pandemic has put a stop to office building commutes, and it’s looking like it could stay that way for some companies. There are a lot of unanswered questions going around, will we ever return to the office? Will we work from home a couple of days per week and make fewer trips into the office? When the vaccine arrives, will we be back to work full time? It is still too soon to tell, but if your company requires that people come back into the office, you must consider your employees’ health implications. 

Back to The Office In 2021?

Many big companies, such as Twitter, Microsoft, and Upwork, allow their employees to choose whether they want to return to the office environment. If you need your employees to come back into the office, indoor positioning technologies will enable you to work safely and efficiently. 

Indoor positioning had a moment a couple of years ago but has had a resurgence due to the Covid 19 pandemic. So what exactly is an indoor positioning system? An Indoor Positioning System (IPS) is a system that can locate one or more people or objects in an indoor area. An IPS is usually composed of two different elements: anchors and location tags. Anchors are devices placed in the building, whereas the person being tracked carries identification. 

Indoor positioning systems have been around for decades, as companies and designers realised the importance of asset tracking and monitoring urban traffic flow. GPS does not work indoors because there is no direct visibility inside, so a new system must be invented to manage asset tracking and employee movement. With the COVID-19 pandemic still very much a big concern in 2021, we’ll outline the IPS makeup to show how you can best introduce these safety measures to your office. 

The Layers of an Indoor Positioning System 

Radiofrequency technologies are most often deployed in these systems because they are already somewhat used in the office space. WiFi, Bluetooth, and mobile phones are significant components of certain IPSs, making them easily accessible to companies to roll out. 

RFID: RFID falls under the non-contact automatic identification technology, as it uses electromagnetic fields to identify and track tags attached to people in the office. RFID does not require line of sight, but these systems don’t provide tracking information, so they need to be coupled with other technologies to provide the positioning information. 

Bluetooth & WiFi: these systems use RSS, or Received Signal Strength, which depends on the receiver’s distance and the receiver. The RSS of the tag (for example, in the mobile of an employee) is measured to multiple WiFi access points or Bluetooth beacons; it is possible to detect the mobile phone position. 

Bluetooth and WiFi make for great deployment options in the workspace because employees will already have a tag in their mobile, decreasing costs and making it a smoother system to roll out. 

The IPS Benefits for Employees 

Employees who are excited to get back to work can rest assured that if their workplace has an IPS installed, they’ll be in safe hands. IPS allows office users to find rooms that are at low capacity, so they know they can safely socially distance themselves while working. 

Indoor positioning apps allow for a complete overview of the location, so employees can figure out what rooms to book in advance. Not only will you know how many people you can fit into the room safely, but you can also take a route that has low traffic if you work in a busy office environment. These heatmaps will give employees peace of mind when walking around because they know what active areas to avoid. 

Indoor positioning systems will not only give employees a feeling of safety when they return to work, but they can also cater to lowering building costs. You can assess light, heat, and HVAC management when you see what rooms are commonly used and what rooms are quieter and don’t need as much energy. Office optimisation is the way forward in 2021, as we are all eager to return to work in a somewhat regular and routine practice.


Brian McGlynn, Davra, COO

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