Designing for shared spaces


The sharing economy. Collaborative consumption. Gig, peer-to-peer or on-demand economy. It goes by many names, but it boils down to the general premise of sharing social, physical and intellectual resources. Its popularity generated from taking assets that are expensive to purchase yet widely owned by people who do not utilize them full time. People rent cars, boats and beds directly from each other. Then there are the less obvious services, like parking spots, leftovers (yes, your leftover dinner) and surfboards. There are even people that will walk your dog or run your errands for you. Basically, if you need something, there’s probably an app for that.

“The sharing economy is not a new idea, but it is something that continues to be embraced today,” says Rob Martens, Allegion futurist and vice president of strategy. “Advancing technology makes it easier than ever before, and it diminishes idleness. If you’re not using your car during the day, rent it to someone who only needs it from 9 a.m. to noon. If a portion of your office is going unused, rent it out.”

So who and what are driving its popularity? The latter can be credited to new technologies, which make transaction costs cheaper, sharing assets easier and the entire process more transparent. GPS and an increase in available data have aided the industry, allowing it to grow into the cost-effective and convenient platform it is today. The “who” is Millennials.

Now the nation’s largest living generation, Millennials are highly adept with technology and many are deemed to be minimalists, spending their money on experiences instead of material goods. Gone is the day when owning a two-car garage — or even owning a car, for that matter — was part of the American dream. At least that’s how it seems as more and more flock to urbanization — leaving rural areas behind, living in multi-family buildings and relying heavily on technologies like Uber and TaskRabbit. Instead, there is a greater focus on convenience, connectivity and accessibility — traits that have grown more common across all ages as people continuously adopt new technologies into their lives.

“Convenience is a primary element in Millennials’ lives,” says Martens. “They have a schedule, but they’re looking to maximize their time. So, what can you simplify that will make them more efficient?”

This is where architects have a unique opportunity to enhance the user experience by utilizing advanced technology to design flexible spaces to fit the life and work styles of the changing population.

A recent study conducted by Allegion and Wakefield Research found that 44 percent of millennial renters surveyed would give up a parking space to live in a “high-tech” apartment.

Martens explains, “Before it would be, ‘I love that building but it doesn’t have any parking.’ Now architects should be designing for the carless lifestyle. This is obvious in the residential sector, but commercial should take note. Is there a bike or car share pick-up location nearby? If not, can you plan it into the design of your building? Occupants would also benefit from a safe location to wait for carpools or services like Uber, with lights or an indoor waiting area.”

In the commercial market, shared space is all about flexibility — for businesses and the facilities.

Small businesses often need an office, but they don’t want to strain their budget with the costs of renting or owning a private space. Shared offices softens the burden by splitting conference rooms, common areas, administrative services and building usage fees with other companies. Co-working is another popular option, especially for startups and entrepreneurs. Many offer a dynamic, open-office environment and encourage collaboration. And, it’s not just small businesses. Larger companies will often rent space for satellite offices or to expand when their current building runs out of space.

Another sharing trend is hoteling, the concept of reserving a temporary work space within your company’s building. Employees are assigned a desk, meeting room or other space based on their needs for the day. This option is typically best for companies that have a large number of employees travelling or working remotely, which would normally leave several desks unused each day. Hoteling allows the company to minimize its square footage by only supplying space for the amount of people who will be in the office versus total number of employees.

The big impact of big data and IoT

Today’s technology powers the sharing economy. Consider all of the information that must be collected and shared to make these exchanges possible. Requesting a Zipcar requires the website or app to know your location and the location of all of its cars in real-time. Wag, a popular dog walking service, matches your dog with one of its nearby walkers, then tracks their route. An office that use hoteling needs a reservation system that monitors who is working where to avoid double bookings.

And, like any commercial setting, shared spaces require security. Electronic access control systems allow companies to assign access to specific openings throughout the building. All employees are able to access the main entrances and common areas, but only specific people will be granted access to reserved offices or storage rooms. Updates can happen at any time, which is a valuable feature when dealing with a consistently changing office floorplan. Using smart credentials or smart phones, all of this is possible — and much easier than it would be using traditional key systems.

As technologies continues to evolve, the sharing economy will keep improving along with it. As described, we’ve already seen some of these benefits. Electronic access control has matured far past its original purpose of allowing access to an opening. Today, with the use of big data — millions of connected smart devices collecting, analyzing and sharing data with other — swiping a credential can do so much more.

Instead of arriving and selecting a desk or meeting room based on availability, the system can analyze an employee’s schedule and preferences, from temperate settings, sitting vs. standing desks, window views or quiet areas. It then finds an available desk for the day and reserves a meeting room for her afternoon presentation. Once she docks her computer or swipes a credential, the system is notified that the desk is in use. It can also identify where others are within the building, a benefit if collaboration is needed throughout the day.

All of these efficiencies are possible with the right technology and planning. In fact, many are already happening in the commercial space. The consulting firm Deloitte resides in what is referred to as the world’s smartest building. Its employee experience many of these capabilities on a daily basis, likely making it one of the world’s most efficient and productive places to work as well.

“What else can your building do? We live in a connected world, so use your imagination.”

- Rob Martens, Allegion futurist and vice president of strategy.

What does this mean to architects and designers? What this means to the designers of such facilities is that the overall space needs to be flexible and functional. Consider how your space can be designed for multiple uses, from a conference room one day to a four-person office the next.

Utilizing next generation technology, architects can deliver more with their projects than ever before. As discussed in an earlier article, enhanced design is the idea of incorporating technology into form and function to improve the overall user experience. It’s achieved by sensors and software that collect data throughout a facility and respond in real time to variety of circumstances. When you think about how many aspects of a building’s ecosphere of services can be connected to a network, from lighting and temperature to water use and recycling, the possibilities are extensive. And since today’s generation is looking for convenience around every corner, building designers have a unique opportunity to deliver efficient, smart facilities.

“Then seek out experts in related industries to figure out how to make it possible,” Martens said. “Partner with people in cooling, lighting and access control to learn what’s available.”

For example, utilizing smart venting, the user could recreate the floor plan every day. As walls need to move to accommodate new spaces or more offices, the air and white noise could be remotely redirected. With multiple business operations in one place, it is unlikely that someone is keeping track of everyone’s schedules. Instead of letting the lights stay on or the air run throughout a room that is unoccupied, design sensors in the floor that can detect weight. These show if someone was in the space, limiting the HVAC in areas with no activity. The system can also allocate of costs based on the space or amount of time a resource was used. Integrating technology into your project increases efficiency and productivity and saves money.   As technology continues to get smarter, buildings are expected to do more. Blending innovation and design, architects are able to exceed those expectations and meet the demands of today’s generation.

Allegion has a team of more than 150 specification writers located around the world who would be happy to assist on your next project. Contact an Allegion specification writer, or check out the iDig Hardware blog for information and updates on door hardware codes.