2020 has been described as one of the most testing in recent history. Life as we know it has come to a grinding halt since the coronavirus pandemic has left countries, businesses, and families struggling to comprehend what the new reality is. Though the year has been a whirlwind of bad news, we thought we’d share some of the good that 2020 has brought us.

Thriving during a pandemic

As the full scale of the pandemic was realised by businesses, we at Freespace realised too that the working world would be changed. Raj Krishnamurthy, CEO of Freespace, had banded together the senior membership team and board together in a pivotal brainstorm meeting on how the company would support our partners and thrive during one of the hardest years known to businesses.

“We spent a lot of time listening when the world went into lockdown… we listened to our clients concerns, their needs – then we built something that would help support them.” Says Damien Chapman, Strategic Accounts and Partnership. Moving quickly, the brainstorming meeting conceptualised and developed the Return to Work Solutions within 8 weeks.

Through Freespace’s confidence and ability to move with agility within the industry, we are proud to say we have supported the deployment of our solutions within the biggest multinational financial services provider. As a business, we understood that to support our clients, we would need to invest – so we invested. We invested in our clients, in our solutions, but most importantly, we invested in people. As our offerings expanded to accommodate for what the new normal would look like, we expanded our team. “Every company in the world is reassessing how and where they work. 2020 has been a catalyst for change and it has been great to see how technology can drive new ways of working that better the experience for employees and efficiency for businesses,” says William Corlass, Sales Director. As of December 2020, we have international teams, with coverage across the globe supporting the 40,000 new solutions users.

In the words of Freespace Chairman, Mike Brown; “We are a company built on ideas and collaboration. 2020 put us to the test – and we did not disappoint. We expanded, we collaborated, we created, and we overcame.”

Freespace’s response to the pandemic

Amidst the utter misery and devastation caused by the Covid crises Freespace has shown its resilience in responding and adapting to the changes in circumstances and in the needs of our clients.

The company has developed and launched its Covid Return to Work technology solution encompassing Smart QR code Spot Tags, Return to Work App and our Cleanreader. The solution provides a very easy and simple way of planning attendances in the office, ensuring social distancing rules are followed and spaces are clean and sanitised between use.

The Return to work app is fully integrated with the existing Freespace technology suite including our sensors and digital signage. It is already playing a key role in helping clients and their staff safely effectively transition back to the workplace as part of the new hybrid home and office working arrangements.

The business has secured new clients and received orders for over 30,000 new devices during the year with major national and global logos won in the financial, professional, risk and insurance market sectors. Our most recent contract win, encompassing a global deployment of 12,000 new devices, sees Freespace deploying its equipment in new locations including Peru, Costa Rica and Russia increasing our global reach to over 80 countries.

The business has grown with over 20 new staff recruited during the year, including strategic appointments to lead our sales effort in major new territories including USA, Canada, Australia, India and Asia. A host of new technical appointments including those in product and app management bring greater technical depth and breadth to the team as well as providing the capacity to deliver and exciting product roadmap planned for 2021 and beyond.

The Return to Work App has already developed into a fully-fledged workplace app. The new integrations and functionality bring dynamic space allocation which includes, lockers and car parking modules on stream before the end of 2020 to cater to the need to accommodate the new hybrid working approach.

2021 will see the launch of a range of new environmental and movement sensors. The technology has been designed to help organisations ensure the comfort and well-being of their staff. Businesses will now be equipped to better understand patterns of flow and the use of corridors and communal spaces, while also being able to measuring air quality and CO2 levels throughout the workplace.

The Green Industrial Revolution – Sensing ‘Net Zero’

The global pandemic has given us all the opportunity to re-evaluate our lifestyles, re-connect with nature and the environment in the places where we live. The environment and green agenda will be a major feature of the economic recovery post Covid. National governments will start investing in clean energy, green infrastructure and creating green jobs as part of a global commitment to reach Net Zero Carbon emissions by 2050.

In the UK, the government has just announced £12bn in government spending as part of the Green Industrial Revolution. Whilst in the US, President Joe Biden and his US Special Envoy on Climate Change Environmental Champion, John Kerry, have made the unwinding of damaging environmental polices attributed to President Donald Trump, a key priority in the first 100 days of the new administration.

According to the Charted Institute of Building Surveyors, every 1000sqft of office space produces 90 tons of CO2 each year. Freespace occupancy sensors have been proven on average to improve space utilisation by more than 20% providing opportunities to consolidate office accommodation based on actual need.

Given the sheer size and scale of office real estate across the world, there is a massive opportunity for sensing technologies to help organisations downsize their own property portfolios, whilst at the same time cutting costs and carbon emissions.

What to look out for in 2021

As the distribution of the vaccine continues, we cast a hopeful gaze towards the promise that 2021 may hold. Freespace has been committed since its inception to helping businesses adapt and support their workforce. 2021 is no different.

Generation 3

With lockdown measures beginning to ease, businesses will need to consider how they can best support their employees making the transition back into work. We are excited to be part of that journey with our clients, having already deployed over 1000 of our TIM sensors. As our offerings expand, our next-generation platform strategy will be launched in 2021. This exciting step builds on the success of the first generation over the last five years. Our generation three platform will bring a range of benefits including Bluetooth, ultra-low performance to extend battery life further, and positioning intelligence.

Freespace Index

With sensor technology installations in 180 offices in 80 countries around the world, Freespace has unique insights into the way office space is used and managed. We are committed to helping our clients maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of their space and the best experience for their building users. As a result, we are pleased to announce the launch of the Freespace Index. The Index provides clients with the opportunity to benchmark their own building performance with those of others on an individual, regional or portfolio basis. The index includes utilisation data spanning 6 continents providing rich regional data and insights from around the world. Freespace Index has been designed to enable comparisons to be made over different time periods spanning over 3-years as well as showing seasonal differences in occupation drilling right down into the different types of space used for individual and collaborative work. As we end 2020 the index shines a spotlight on the Covid crises and how effectively organisations have managed to keep workplaces open and accessible during the pandemic together, with emerging patterns of re-occupation for 2021.

Hybrid work reimagined all in one App

As hybrid working is quickly adapted by businesses, it has embedded itself as a key feature of the new normal for businesses. In order for businesses to trade and manage with the same fluidity as they did in the pre-Covid world, they will need to be equipped with the right tools and technology to do so. Freespace’s Return to Work app is being proven as the go-to user interface, already supporting over 40,000 users. Companies will now be making data-informed decisions on how to best utilise their space to safeguard their staff and adhere to new cleaning compliances. The Freespace Return to Work App will be the go-to user interface for businesses and employees in the future hybrid workplace.

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