Five things we’ve learnt during Covid-19 that will shape our future

Rob Pritchard – now sole owner and managing director of technology firm Scenariio – talks about the way Covid-19 has changed the landscape for businesses, and those who design and look after buildings. And what’s more, how his restructured team is optimistic and ready to respond to a smart buildings upsurge.

1. Relationships are the antidote to a pandemic

Whether it’s how you treat your staff, how you serve your clients, or how you look after your suppliers – every business has been judged on all three since lockdown. And their chances of thriving in a post-Covid world is predicated on the relationships they nurtured throughout the pandemic.

Scenariio prides itself on the strong connections it has with its customer base, and its several partners – including key partner CommScope – who provide many of the infrastructure products that Scenariio install. 

Rob says: “Some customers remained operational during the lockdown, so our work for them continued. Others pressed the pause button, and we respect and understand that. We’ve been blown away by customers and suppliers who’ve helped keep cashflows healthy – by paying on time and raising orders early. Together we’ve kept important projects moving for our customers.”

Going forward, to help sustain those critical relationships, Scenariio has recruited Russell Webster, as their Operations Director. He joins Scenariio from Elecomm Ltd. 

Russell says: “Continuity for any business is essential right now. Our customers rely on our first-rate project management expertise to deliver smart building solutions over structured cabling – and my role will be to grow this capability even further, through our fantastic operational team.”

2. The case for smart buildings is now strengthened

Coronavirus has shown everyone that buildings need to be safe and flexible enough to allow occupants to adapt quickly. That’s what smart buildings do – and Scenariio has been designing and executing intelligent building solutions for over seven years now. 

Put simply; smart buildings react to the needs of the people inside them. How? Through discreet sensors that track and collect building data which then triggers action. That data includes building occupancy numbers; space utilisation; temperature levels; power consumption; and air quality. It’s this real-time reporting that gives building owners invaluable information about how their properties are being used.

During the lockdown, those companies who invested in smart building technology pre-Covid-19 – will have been able to monitor and look after their properties from afar – using remote apps. They also have the advantage of being able to use building occupancy insight, to track people interactions and make informed decisions. This includes how to maintain social distancing on particular floors, right through to knowing when spaces need to be cleaned again after use. 

You can read more about that here.

As many commercial properties have been scarcely occupied since lockdown, debates on building closures, downsizing, and re-locations will ensue. The questions on people’s minds will be: What do we want to use our buildings for? Who will need to use them, and how do we keep them safe? 

It’s during these critical conversations that smart building solutions will come into play.

3. But, silos will need to be broken down

The ideal time to consider smart building solutions is when you’re rationalising your property portfolio. For example, if you’re doing a major refurb on a building to downsize, or changing its functionality.

However, creating buildings that are smart, calls for smart decision-making to achieve one common goal. That goal is usually to save costs – and provide a flexible and safe working environment – that works for the planet too. 

However, when you’re straddling the agendas of everyone – from the facilities management team and the security team, to the IT and the finance team – that strategic ambition is sometimes hard to pull off. For example, why do we need security sensors to keep us safe; and temperature sensors for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); when one smartsensor will do it all? 

Technology integration is exactly that: integration. Interested parties will need to sacrifice their own concerns for the common good of the building owners and its occupants. 

4. Efficiency is now expected and needed

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, efficiency went out of the window. Everyone was slowed down by queues and restrictions. But now, technology has enabled us to be much more productive, and long-term technology plans have materialised in a matter of months. 

As we face a recession, everybody is looking for efficiency. And people are used to the convenience that technology brings.

Smart buildings do both. They reduce costs, and they make life easier and more comfortable for people who work in them. Take intelligent lighting as an example. It can be adapted to reflect building user preferences; to mimic natural sunlight, and to warn occupants about social distancing breaches. And what’s more, it’s powered by safe, low voltage data cables – saving even more cost over time.

Rob explains, “We’re rapidly approaching a time when buildings can exist without the need for 240 volts. Power over Ethernet (PoE) is becoming increasingly capable of running devices under 100 Watts of power. This technology is dramatically transforming how building infrastructure is being planned and forcing traditional systems out.”

An expertly designed and planned smart lighting system will pay for itself. Scenariio’s post-occupation studies have found that organisations can expect to see cost savings of up to 90% – compared to traditional lighting systems. 

These business efficiency savings could be used to finance deals that help spread the cost of the initial capital outlay. Such substantial savings mean that a return on investment is easily achieved, typically within five to seven years.

5. The environment is back on the agenda

Nobody would ever admit to environmental concerns being off the table. Just de-prioritised perhaps.

Rob explains: “Despite our evidence that smart building solutions can reduce energy costs by as much as 90% – protecting the environment has never been enough of an argument by itself, to convince some firms to invest in smart building solutions.”

Lockdown may have changed this. Media headlines were dominated by stories of pollution levels plummeting; air and water quality improving; and noise levels deteriorating ­– while the planet healed itself.

Now, businesses will be under further pressure to meet their environmental targets, and smart building solutions will help them to achieve this.

In summary then:

  • Relationships that have been nurtured throughout the pandemic will help firms to thrive going forward.
  • Those organisations who had invested in smart building solutions pre-Covid19 will be at a distinct advantage – strengthening the case for smart buildings in the future.
  • But, creating flexible, intuitive, efficient, and environmentally-friendly buildings can only be achieved when silos are broken down.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has shown us we can be more efficient with technology to reduce costs and increase convenience.
  • And what’s more, it’s put the environment firmly back on the agenda.

About Scenariio

Scenariio specialises in the implementation of cutting-edge technologies to optimise productivity in your workspace and the underpinning infrastructure required to deploy those technologies effectively.

We’re preferred and trusted advisors in the design, supply, and installation of data networks. Our company ethos is caring for our customer’s needs by providing leading products and high-quality service, through integrity and innovation ­– all delivered by a professional, experienced, and dependable, nationwide team.

Our mission is to make your business more intelligent. The team is passionate about enabling you to understand the advantages of a smart workspace, from sensor-rich networks delivered over structured cabling, to capitalising on the latest developments in the IoT. We aim to improve the way your organisation connects with technology to achieve responsive results, more efficient systems and, ultimately, business growth.

At Scenariio, we deliver smarter solutions for smarter buildings.

Rob Pritchard
rp@scenariio.com
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