Smart workplaces in smart buildings

Published on 28/03/2019 in Inspire

Smart workplaces in smart buildings

The Proximus towers have defined the Brussels skyline for 25 years now. Over the past two years, these offices have undergone a complete makeover, a process that will be completed by April 2019. Proximus has opted in favor of smart workplaces in smart buildings.

This new chapter in the towers’ story draws together various developments. “The new way of working is a major driver,” says Jan Joos, Director Group Internal Services at Proximus. “Among other things, for a while now people have had the opportunity to working from home.

All the staff are not present in the towers at the same time – far from it. That means there is less need for office space – and hence costs are cut. At the same time, we offer our staff another, more suitable workplace, depending on the tasks they are doing, either on their own or as part of a team.”

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Activity-based working

Depending on the work of the various teams, Proximus sets out the working environment differently. “For instance, we have introduced shared desks (flexdesks) for everyone on many floors, including quiet rooms for tasks that require extra concentration.”

“These workplaces are grouped together in ‘anchor zones’ for teams where close consultation and cooperation are important. The most far-reaching type of collaborative workplace are floors designed specifically with areas for phone calls or brainstorming sessions, meeting rooms for video conferences, etc.

This is ideal for stimulating in-depth transversal cooperation in the context of a project with colleagues from different divisions. Of course, a special concept is also being developed for services where working together is more difficult or less efficient, such as call centers,” Jan explains.

IoT forms the basis for us to improve our comfort and well-being at the office.

Jan Joos, Director Group Internal Services at Proximus


Building on IoT

The towers are already equipped with a building management system (BMS) which, among other things, adjusts the temperature, humidity and ventilation in line with the use being made of the rooms. The system also monitors the internal electricity network and energy consumption.

“The BMS concept has been installed across the country, in all our office buildings and the main technical buildings. From the towers, we can control this centrally.” With the help of IoT applications, Proximus is gradually expanding this basic management so as to evolve towards smart workplaces in real smart buildings.

Sensors watch and tell

“IoT forms the basis for us to improve our comfort and well-being at the office,” Jan explains. “Tests have started with sensors that count the number of people present in meeting rooms. The idea is that if there are only four people in a room designed for 20, the system can then advise moving the meeting to a small room, releasing a meeting room for a larger group.”

Sensors will also shortly calculate the number of people per floor, always anonymously, of course. If the maximum number of people permitted – for safety reasons, for example – is exceeded, then the system sends a warning to the person in charge.

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The most important works of art that grace the corridors in the towers are being given a sensor, too. “That way, we can keep an eye on the humidity and the presence of infrared light,” says Jan. “The sensor can also send out an alarm if someone moves the work of art.”

In addition, Proximus is thinking about a more automated application to assist with the arrival of visitors in the building. The next development in the pipeline is extra automation for the cash registers in the restaurants. “When choosing smart-building solutions, we always go for technology that has already acquired a certain amount of maturity. We use the solutions that we also offer our customers as an IT partner.”

Jan Joos studied IT at the VUB. He has worked at Proximus since 1996, for the last 10 years as Director Group Internal Services.


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