Office life has changed beyond all recognition over the last two years.
There had been talk about the ‘end of the office’ altogether, but that seems less likely as we move forward.
However, the way we use office space, and the expectations placed on it, have shifted – and it’s the same for building services.
Modern workspaces must be flexible and able to react quickly to peaks in demand
The building services challenge
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) notes that businesses intend to use more remote working in future, but many office workers still want the option to come into an office for part of the week.
As a result, some businesses are downsizing their larger offices, but looking for smaller, high-quality locations.
Attractive facilities that support physical and mental wellbeing are the key to the future office.
Building services such as ventilation, heating and cooling play a vital, though often unseen, role in delivering just that.
Designing and operating these services in the new-style offices presents several challenges.
No more Mon-Fri
Firstly, the working week is no longer Monday-to-Friday, nine-to-five.
Occupation rates are changing and many building managers are just starting to get to grips with when the new peaks in demand might occur.
For instance, the office may be full to capacity on Wednesdays, but empty on Fridays.
Modern workspaces must be flexible and able to react quickly to peaks in demand, while allowing Facilities Managers to turn down cooling or heating systems to avoid wasting energy.
Of course, people also want to feel safe in their office.
And that means providing good indoor air quality (IAQ). It may not have been something employees gave much thought to in the past, but today, we’re all far more aware of the importance of good ventilation.
What’s more, we are seeing upcoming changes to Part F of the Building Regulations (Ventilation) that will require systems to have the ability to deliver 50% higher ventilation rates for ‘months’.
And offices will also have to monitor IAQ and reduce the ‘ingress of pollutants’ to an occupied space.
In addition to these requirements, building managers also face increased legislation on operational energy use as well as potentially high energy costs for some time to come.
The heart of effective and energy-efficient delivery of a healthy indoor environment is maintenance of building services systems.
At Mitsubishi Electric, our Service & Maintenance teams are focused on helping clients develop and deliver good maintenance programmes that keep systems operating at their best.
For example, we can use remote monitoring technology to observe the performance of chillers, so that any change in performance can be spotted and potential problems dealt with before they cause shut-downs (and discomfort for occupants).
Practical and effective maintenance
With changing requirements placed on building services, it’s important to ensure that the equipment is always working at its most effective and a good maintenance programme can support that.
Our Mitsubishi Electric Service and Maintenance engineers work with clients to develop practical maintenance programmes that fit in with their schedules and avoid disruption to building operation.
So, as we enter the era of the ‘new office’, good maintenance practice can help the building services equipment keep up with the changing pace, providing trouble-free operation and keeping occupants comfortable no matter when they drop in.
Brian Beetson is National Sales Manager – Service & Maintenance