We have seen many workplace trends evolve over the years, especially with the ongoing improvements in technology, many of which have resulted in a decline in people working a traditional 9-5 working day.

With many companies now placing an importance on, and striving to improve employee well-being to ensure their staff remain happy and motivated at work, one clear trend has been a rise in the offering of flexible working.

Flexible working has several principles and offers multiple scenarios including, compressed or part time hours, staggered or flexitime hours and the option of working from home or a remote location as well as many more. All of which result in there being varying numbers of employees in and out of the traditional office environment at different times of the day/week.

While flexible working has proven to boost productivity and well-being it can cause problems in terms of the building and maintenance. With these varying numbers of employees comes the challenge of successfully heating and cooling a building based on these fluctuations.

Whilst newer buildings are accommodating for this change, with reactive systems, buildings with older existing systems are facing challenges.

Historically, heating and cooling systems when being installed into a building were based on specifier guides, one of which was occupancy. The cooling load would be calculated based on the number of occupants and equipment expected to be emitting heat. The cooling load would then be set to remain at this level and was not designed to easily allow this to be changed.

Therefore as employee working patterns began to change the systems were not set up or prepared for the flexibility in occupancy. For example if the system had originally been set to serve 50 people, it would still work on this basis even if there were only 20 people in the office at any given time. The result being that employees became too cold and the system was over-working and therefore wasting energy.

And it’s not just the change in working hour patterns. With a rise in companies existing to offer co-working space, landlords of larger commercial properties with multiple tenants now face the challenge of these companies purchasing floor space and replacing the existing equipment with their own. This in turn has an affect on the central plant within the building.

With the advances in technology within the heating and cooling industry over the years and the introduction of SMART buildings, newer buildings are now prepared for the trend and have more advanced AHU’s and control panels in place that provide flexibility and allow the temperature to adjust based on changing occupancy. This can be measured via a “swipe in” entry system or through the use of sensors within the space.

Is this the decline of traditional office space? How will older buildings adapt?

We’ll work with you to advise on what needs to happen to make your buildings more efficient and future-ready. Click here to see how we have supported the upgrade of older buildings.


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