February 15, 2022 | 7 minute

What is Spatial Intelligence?

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The pandemic has forced property managers, tenants, workers and others to form a new understanding of the use of physical space. In fact, you might even say that, for many, it’s their first real consideration of how they use physical space since, prior to the pandemic, we never really had to look at the topic from the same angle.


Table of contents

  • Spatial intelligence – what it is?
  • Disruption of the traditional workspace
  • The business case for Spatial Intelligence


And this relationship with how we use physical space was fine and perfectly acceptable right up until the spring of 2020, when everything changed. Before that, the unwritten rules were clear and everyone had developed an instinctive appreciation of how things worked.


Spatial intelligence – what it is?


People went to offices, for eight hours a day and five days a week. I had my desk and you had yours. The meeting room was for meetings. The break room was for breaks. At the end of the day we all went home and returned in the morning and repeated this until the weekend came.

Essentially the entire commercial real estate industry was built on these predictable, settled and perfectly normal routines. This was how things had always been done and no one expected this to end – right up until the moment when it did. Interested in finding the right solution?




Disruption of the traditional workspace


Now look at how quickly we have not only rearranged our lives, but become used to it as the new normal. Suddenly what was previously unthinkable is now part of everyday conversation.

Maybe you’ll be in the office this week, maybe not — you’ll decide later. You can set up a Zoom call to catch up with what your team has been up to. You’ve never met many of your coworkers in person. Maybe you’ve never even been to your company’s office in person.

Go back in time and try to explain all this to someone from, say, twenty years ago or even more recently. They won’t be able to understand because what used to be the permanent fundamentals of workplace life were erased in a matter of weeks, with consequences that are only now being understood.

Many of the most significant of these consequences are related to how we now use and manage all that space that used to be filled according to set, predictable patterns. The patterns are gone but the space is still there — a lot of it. How do we navigate the disruption between how that space used to be occupied, and the routines that went along with it, and how we use it today?

That’s where Spatial Intelligence comes in.

Whereas the old paradigm was settled and followed established patterns, the new workplace is defined by extreme levels of flexibility. Among other things, that means access to space on demand, even when that demand is impossible to gauge.

This, in turn, means having the ability to understand occupancy levels and overall utilization in real time to match capacity to needs, even though one is usually fixed and the other can now vary wildly, with constant peaks and valleys in usage.

This requires insights into how spaces are used that are well beyond the limitations of simple observation or reservation sheets for desk space. It requires that ability to predict future usage based on historical performance. It requires technology that can recognize patterns.

In short, it requires Spatial Intelligence.


The business case for Spatial Intelligence


The use and management of workspaces needs to be optimized as much as possible, given the investment they represent and the critical role they place in the employee experience, no matter how much it has changed.

Data-driven solutions have now been extended to workspaces, which have been transformed from largely static assets serving a steady and repeatable purpose to a space through which we pass according to individual preferences and the schedules we set for ourselves. In an age when remote, in-person and hybrid work models are the norm and millions of us move between them as we choose whenever we like, Spatial Intelligence is needed to manage the supply side of the equation of the office landscape.

IoT-based infrastructures make it easier than ever to collect data that can be leveraged into Spatial Intelligence. Even now, just two years after the major disruption that created the need for it, Spatial Intelligence has already proven itself to be of critical importance in a number of both performance metrics. The areas where Spatial Intelligence can be applied include:


  • Health & Wellness. The ability to be alerted to changes in environmental conditions in real time is now a must. The same infrastructure that tracks workflows and occupancy can also monitor humidity, temperature, air quality, and even light levels so you’ll know when there’s a condition that exceeds norms or needs attention. It’s easier than ever to make sure everyone using a particular space is staying in a “healthy” environment.
  • Space as a Service. Digital building services make spaces better, safer, and more occupant-friendly places to work and visit. In an age when enticing employees to give up the comforts of home and devote at least part of their weekly schedule to being in-office has become a real challenge, this is a crucial asset. Technology can now help your team facilitate space management, manage bookings, and improve space utilization based on real-time & historical occupancy data to plan hot desking and enable auto-release to inventory.
  • Asset Location & Workflows. Looking for various office amenities and supplies is a frustrating waste of time for everyone. With location and status tracking, finding what you need and getting notifications about what isn’t in working order can be done with a click. Spend less time searching and more working & arrange for various tools and tech to be restored to working order before it’s needed again. It’s all about improving the office experience and eliminating easily avoidable headaches that distract from the working day.


Spatial Intelligence is a big part of the “new normal”


While millions of us are ready to go back to the office, remote work is here to stay for millions more and still others will take advantage of a hybrid model. Being able to dynamically adjust to constantly variable occupancy levels while maintaining a welcoming work environment has become mission critical.

It’s no longer so easy to tell if you are using the full potential of your workspace. Spatial Intelligence is needed to understand where the bottlenecks are, when the waves come and go and how to best use the space you have.

Spatial Intelligence is also key for any examination of how the changes of the last two years have impacted your real estate needs. Right-sizing office space to meet requirements is on the agenda for organizations around the world but, again, manual observation can only take you so far. With so much at stake — real estate remains a top expense regardless of recent events — getting it right requires a detailed statistical analysis of how you use the space you have now and how well it fits (or doesn’t fit) your current and estimated future needs.

The same idea applies to expansion as well and, again, Spatial Intelligence has a role to play. Data insights about past use will rank highly in the smart design of new workspaces. Employee satisfaction, comfort and productivity will all be part of the equation when applying the insights gained from Intelligence Spatial going forward.

As we make way forward through a still-changing work environment, property owners and managers need to be able to keep up with shifting trends and evolving standards. It’s not enough to have a general idea of occupancy or utilization rates, you must have precise data that makes it possible to make smarter decisions about the size and design of the space you use, the employee experience and more. Learn more about Spatial Intelligence by scheduling a talk with our team today.