Content added to your bookmarks in MyHoval

File added to your bookmarks in MyHoval

There has been an error while adding Content to your bookmarks in MyHoval

Flexible working impacts energy management

Flexible working impacts energy management

Aside from the medical impacts of Covid 19, perhaps one of the most profound changes wrought by the virus is the introduction of more flexible working practices, especially using technology to enable working from home.

  • Blog
  • End customer - Investor

In truth, this was already happening in many office environments but it’s clear that Covid has accelerated the process. This situation is bringing about a significant change in the usage and occupation density of office workspaces and clearly has implications on energy management. For instance, as staff numbers in office spaces vary from day-to-day, heating and hot water systems will need more flexible control if energy wastage is to be avoided.

Given the soaring cost of energy, this is an issue that should be addressed with some urgency.

Certainly, as restrictions are easing and people are heading back to their offices, far fewer are returning to the traditional nine-to-five, Monday to Friday pattern. A survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 85% of adults who have been homeworking want to take a ‘hybrid’ approach in the future with a mix of both home and office working. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 44% of employees want to work remotely for at least three days a week.

In the ONS survey, 32% of businesses were unsure what proportion of their workforce will be working from the office in the future. 24% of these intended to increase homeworking with the highest proportion (49%) in the information and communication industry.

It is clear, then, that businesses are responding to demand, recognising the potential for staff retention issues in the future if demands for flexibility are not met. The result will be an inevitable reduction in staff numbers in the workplace at any one time.

This situation will undoubtedly affect the control of the heating system if it is to deliver optimum energy performance. For example, people and the electrical equipment they use in the office both generate heat. These internal heat gains reduce demand for space heating in cold weather. Fewer people will therefore lead to increased demand on the space heating system. In parallel, demand for hot water will be reduced.

Flexibility will also be important for responding to pandemics and other issues affecting work patterns in the future. This was clear when the Omicron variant of Covid appeared and put much of the anticipated return to the workplace on hold.

Ultimately, many businesses will take this opportunity to move to smaller premises but this won’t be a viable option for all companies. In such cases, they should consider ‘continuous commissioning’, whereby plant is not just maintained regularly but is also re-commissioned regularly to reflect the building’s changing usage.

Where there are plans to upgrade heating systems, flexibility and efficiency will need to be key considerations. Mixing different types of heating technologies, using the most efficient options available and using sophisticated controls will provide a responsive system that makes the process of continuous commissioning straightforward.

Stay Ahead with Our Newsletter!

Enjoyed this article? Sign up for our newsletter to receive more exclusive content just like this before it’s published on our website. Be the first to get insights, updates, and valuable information delivered straight to your inbox. Don’t miss out – join our community today