Waterschap Zuiderzeeland is a Dutch water utility that manages the water, the dikes and the waste water processing plants in Flevoland, which was created from the struggle with water. It is new land, on the bed of the former Zuiderzee. The organisation ensures a safe environment for both residents and businesses, striving for sustainable water management. Its operating area covers a surface of 150,000 hectares of land within the dikes, surrounded by 222 kilometres of dikes.

After extensive rebuilding, the updated and energy-neutral utility headquarters was reopened in 2017. Under the motto ‘Working Better Together’, the building now serves as a meeting place for colleagues and partners, with flexible workplaces for everyone.

“We tackled this renovation not just to make the premises more environmentally sustainable, but also to optimise our workplace concepts, work processes and mutual collaboration”, Janneke Eerens, environmental manager with Waterschap Zuiderzeeland, explained with enthusiasm. “Communication and a change in behaviour play an important role here, as does the deployment of smart ICT.”

Before the renovation, the water utility had already been using Planon software for more than 10 years to process facility notifications and reservations. Last year, they also accommodated IT Service Management processes in Planon.

“We are an innovative organisation and also took advantage of the renovation to apply suitable and modern ICT resources, thus allowing further innovation of our meeting room management with Planon software”, notes Roelof Bakker, project manager with Waterschap Zuiderzeeland.

“Coordination and discussion is a vital aspect of our work”, says Roelof. “That’s why the new premises have many places where this can occur outside the ‘standard’ meeting rooms. To give our staff faster and easier access to meeting rooms and to improve the occupancy and utilisation of these rooms, we have combined our Planon solution with zone sensors.”
The bookable meeting rooms have each been equipped with a Passive Infrared (PIR) sensor, which communicates the current status of the zone – either occupied or free – in real-time with the Planon software. “These sensors communicate through a so-called LORA network’, explains Roelof. ‘This wireless network was very easy to implement and has no impact on our existing ICT infrastructure.”

All the meeting rooms, as well as offices and other spaces, are also equipped with a QR code. This allows staff to quickly and easily use their Planon Apps to book a meeting room, to occupy it or to pass on a notification. The floor plans of the office are used to visualise the current availability and occupancy of areas with Planon Apps. “Thanks to the seamless integration of our Planon solution with Microsoft Outlook, where you can add a room to your meeting, we now have one single application for an efficient booking process”, Roelof concludes.

“In theory, meeting rooms were always occupied and often they had been booked a year in advance. But in practice, they often stood empty and bookings were not cancelled”, points out Janneke. “The way the premises have now been set up makes it easier to have informal contact and to exchange information. There is much less use of ‘classic’ meetings in ‘standard’ meeting rooms.” That was one of the goals of this project. Another goal was the efficient utilisation of the available areas.

“Using this technology has let us monitor space availability better. If a workspace is not used at a time when it has actually been booked, it is released automatically, giving staff much easier access to a meeting room”, said Janneke. “Advance block bookings have declined as a result. And using the Planon Apps means that staff no longer have to return to their workplace to book a space, and that they can find a free workspace much faster.”

Roelof is extremely positive about the implementation of the new solution. “We combined this project with an upgrade to the latest Planon release and allocated three weeks for installing the sensors and testing the system. The cooperation with Planon went perfectly, and we were able to complete the project on time and within the planned budget.”

Janneke has two recommendations for other organisations: “First, carefully consider the actual problem you want to solve, and choose the solution that matches this best. There are so many technological possibilities, but Waterschap Zuiderzeeland very deliberately didn’t choose them all. Second, devote sufficient attention to your target group. Adoption will be easier and the project will be more successful when staff understand the objectives of the change and realise what personal benefits they will get from it.”