Few things are more frustrating than searching for a misplaced item. Just a few moments of searching for your phone — it was just in your hand — is enough to raise your blood pressure.
When it comes to the workplace, however, the stakes are even higher. In addition to stress, workers can waste valuable time looking for an available meeting room, trying to locate a printer, or even just trying to find the coffee cart.
As the old saying goes, wasted time is wasted money.
When driving, most of us rely on a GPS system to guide us, so why isn't there something similar for inside directions?
As it turns out, there is; it is called an Indoor Navigation System, aka Office Wayfinding.
What is Indoor Navigation and Office Wayfinding?
Indoor navigation systems (INS), also called indoor GPS, tell you where you are located within a building and how to reach a particular destination, such as a specific person's office, a meeting room, or a restroom.
These systems can provide turn-by-turn directions to your destination, much like the GPS device in your car. However, the satellites that GPS systems use to provide direction cannot penetrate building materials, making them ineffective inside.
And, unlike a static map, an INS can stay with you, via a smartphone app, or provide animated directions via a kiosk. Plus, by integrating with other systems, INS can provide much more than directions. For example, employees can use the system to find which conference rooms are available at a specific time, or operations can use data from the INS to pinpoint the most popular locations in the building.
Some INS can track business assets such as printers, projectors, tools, or testing equipment. This can make it easier for workers to find an available conference room with a projector or help maintenance personnel find a printer or HVAC system that needs service.
How an Indoor Navigations System Works
To overcome the limitations of GPS, INS uses a variety of technology to help people navigate an inside space, such as offices, malls, and manufacturing plants. WiFi, Bluetooth, or magnetic positioning are all examples of technology that INS may use.
While the technology used to power Office Wayfinding apps may vary, there are three main components of most indoor navigation tool:
- Detailed Indoor Map: Indoor mapping builds a detailed map of the floor plan of the building, including assets, points of interest, and other locations. Maps can be updated in real-time, making it simple for IT to maintain map accuracy.
- User-Facing Navigation Tool: The user-facing side allows users to navigate through the map and locate their current position. It’s typically an app that runs on a smartphone, desktop, or it might be a free-standing kiosk inside the facility.
- Relays or Beacons: In order to determine where a person is located, beacons or relays are used to signal location and provide incredibly accurate directions, often with a few feet.
The Benefits of Using an Indoor Navigation System
The most obvious benefit of using an Office Wayfaring system is improved navigation, which has the side effect of decreasing frustration in the workplace. However, there are several less obvious benefits of adding an indoor navigation system to your existing building.
An indoor navigation system can make it easier for people with disabilities or mobility issues to better navigate their workplace. For example, a post-knee surgery employee will be able to quickly find the closest elevator. Or, a person with a visual impairment could download step-by-step directions to a meeting room in an audio format.
Improving access to office spaces can increase employee retention and productivity, as employees spend less time navigating to their office and meetings.
Identify Popular Locations
An INS can help companies better understand how people actually use their space. For example, you might find that one specific meeting room is rarely used, which is an indication that you should investigate whether the space truly works for your company. Perhaps it is difficult to access or lacks much-needed features, such as a digital projector or smartboard.
Additionally, you might find that the office coffee cart causes a traffic jam, allowing you to search for a more optimal location.
Office Wayfaring systems are about more than just convenience — they can also serve as a critical safety tool. While no one wants to think about a tragedy at their workplace, preparation can be the difference between life and death.
INS can send out real-time updates and warnings to persons in dangerous areas. They can also help lead visitors to the nearest fire exit.
Many Wayfinding apps allow the interface to be updated with brand colors and logos. This sends customers, clients, and visitors a clear indication that you care about their experience and are interested in helping them enjoy their visit.
When customers and employees feel like you care about, then they are more likely to stay, return, and recommend your brand to their friends and family.
Increased Meeting Productivity
Meetings are an essential part of office life; however, they can result in thousands of lost working hours as attendees scramble to find the right room, miss updated meeting times, or, worse, can't find a meeting room at all.
In fact, the average middle manager in an office spends 35% of their working hours in meetings. The amount of wasted time grows when you consider that 70 percent of employees report they wasted at least 15 minutes a day looking for a place to meet.
Indoor navigation systems allow meeting hosts to include directions to the meeting location, which reduces latecomers.
When integrated with a meeting management tool like Ask Cody, workers can even search for and reserve meeting rooms in an optimal location with the assets they need. These features reduce wasted time and allow employees to focus on strategic tasks that benefit the bottom line.
Integrate With Other Systems for Additional Capabilities
You might be surprised by a few of the benefits of indoor navigation systems, but these tools can do even more when integrated with other smart systems you likely already have in your office.
For example, when paired with a tool like Ask Cody, an indoor navigation system can make it easier for employees to find and reserve a meeting room, send out meeting location reminders, and even update meeting times.
Pairing your INS with a ticketing system can help IT and maintenance staff quickly locate machines, workstations, or systems in need of service.
Indoor Navigation Use Cases in Office Buildings
It is easy to understand how an INS might benefit shoppers who are looking for a specific store in a mall or travelers looking for a gate at the airport. But, can they really be that beneficial in an office setting?
Absolutely. Here are a few use-cases that show how an INS can help you and your employees collaborate more effectively and make better use of resources.
- Search for available meeting rooms and get directions to their location.
- Find a meeting room with the exact assets you need — such as a smart whiteboard or video conferencing capabilities.
- Find your way to a co-worker's new desk.
- Locate employees via infrared work badges.
- Direct visitors to a location, allowing front desk staff to focus on other tasks that improve visitor satisfaction.
- Streamline catering and food delivery with turn by turn directions.
- Attach directions to meeting invites by connecting to Outlook.
- Integrate with Ask Cody to combine visitor management and Office Wayfinding.
- Allow IT to quickly update the map to add a new point of interest.
- Analyze which spaces are most-used and look for ways to improve traffic flow and office usability.
- Better manage shared workspaces.
- Send out company-wide alerts for town hall meetings and special events.
- Send out targeted messages to workers in hazardous locations, such as a fire or electrical issue.
As the technology surrounding INS continues to improve, these systems will likely integrate with additional systems — which means they may offer additional benefits and features in the coming years.
Get the Most Out of Indoor Navigation With AskCody's Office WayFinder
AskCody's WayFinder tool integrates with visitor management and meeting management software to help increase operational efficiency, reduce meeting conflicts, enable people to find collaboration spaces more easily. As a result, your employees can focus more time on important tasks, rather than helping others with directions.