It’s 110 degrees outside and I drag myself into the office, sweating slightly. The cool A/C washes over me as I enter the building. I head upstairs to my desk, open my laptop, swiftly put on my sweater, and settle onto my ball chair in one fluid motion.
I am not alone in my morning routine. More than 3 in 5 people surveyed by International Facility Management Association use personal fans, heaters, blankets, or gloves in their workplace. Probably because 46 percent of workers say their office is either too hot or too cold, according to a CareerBuilder survey.
Thankfully, our Corporate Services Innovation Team has been collaborating on a solution to a problem as old as the 9 to 5. It is a mobile app for employees to control the thermostat in their work area by requesting to warm, cool, or maintain space temperature. The request notifies the HVAC system and sends a blast of warm or cool air to their area accordingly. Intel has partnered with the app creators to improve the application and build the use-case for this technology and the results are promising.
Improving Employees Experience
Intel started with a small pilot since the team was skeptical about possible “thermostat wars”
among colleagues with different temperature preferences. But the data and user feedback has overwhelmingly shown employees agreed their area was either too warm or too cold. Despite it being the most asked question, conflicting requests were not common. More than 72% of employees polled said they were more productive after adopting the app. The app has democratized the heating and cooling system to find the best fit for employees and the technology learns over time so employees do not have to make the same requests repeatedly.
Since introducing the pilot at Intel, the team has worked with its developers to add features like conference room booking and real-time room availability mapping. Expanding the app’s offering increases the incentive for employees to use it and addresses more employee woes.
Gaining Operational Efficiency
In addition to making employees happier in their workspace, our data indicates the optimized temperature patterns translate into single digit energy savings. And energy savings mean more sustainable, efficient operations and lower energy bills.
Added app features like room reservation provide usage data for better space planning. For example, in one of our Santa Clara buildings, the data showed two 30 person rooms were rarely used. When they were, it was often by a few people who couldn’t find a smaller room so Corporate Services is updating the space accordingly. They are in the process of removing the two rooms, putting six 4-6 person collaboration rooms in their spot.
Meeting goals to improve both employee experience and building efficiency means the program is expanding across our US sites. And Intel continues to collaborate on smart and green technologies to improve our own operations and show other organizations the benefits. Green solutions are good for business and good for the planet. I can’t wait to see what the Smart and Green team pilots next but for now I’ll enjoy skipping my morning sweater routine.