Founded in 2010, Relogix makes sensors that track office occupancy, measuring how often spaces such as desks, boardrooms and communal areas are either being used or sitting empty.As office tenants grapple with the issue of how much real estate they’ll actually need in a post-pandemic world, a Kanata company says its new artificial intelligence platform can help solve the riddle. Founded in 2010, Relogix makes sensors that track office occupancy, measuring how often spaces such as desks, boardrooms and communal areas are either being used or sitting empty. Demand for the palm-sized, battery-operated devices has soared in the past few years as companies try to get a handle on how many workers are returning to the office in the wake of COVID-19. Now, the company is tapping into data from those sensors to help customers do a better job of forecasting their need for space in a hybrid work environment. The problem, says Relogix CEO Andrew Millar, is that most office tenants base their projected real estate requirements on the maximum number of people that are ever likely to occupy a particular space – a level that was almost never attained even when most employees worked on site five days a week. “The peak only happens sporadically,” Millar explains. “It’s not a true indicator of (how space is used).” His 24-person firm says it’s come up with a better way to forecast a company’s need for office space. Using data collected from its sensors, Relogix has developed software that uses machine learning to analyze office occupancy patterns over months or years. Millar says the AI-powered platform gives a much truer picture of how many people actually occupy desks, boardrooms and other areas, when they use them and for how long. He likens the situation to airlines that overbook flights, knowing that historical trends indicate a certain percentage of passengers who are scheduled to board planes never show up. Similarly, Millar explains, Relogix’s analytics consistently show that some employees who reserve boardroom or desk space end up staying home – but that reality isn’t reflected in the amount of real estate employers think they need. “The blind spot is really just their ability to predict demand for space,” he says. “They really need data to help inform the decision as to how much space they can get rid of and then how do they effectively manage the space they’re going to keep. That is a huge challenge.” With most offices in North America still operating at less than 30 per cent of capacity, Relogix appears to be in the right market at the right time. Millar says calls have been flooding in from around the world as more prospective clients look to benefit from the company’s insights. “IoT and sensor technology have rapidly matured through COVID,” he says. “It’s gone from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have.” Relogix’s revenues have been growing 50 per cent a year since the pandemic began. The firm, which typically targets enterprise customers with more than 2,000 employees and real estate footprints of at least a million square feet, boasts a client base that includes brands such as Bank of America, Motorola and Starbucks. While most of its customers are in the financial services, insurance and tech sectors, Millar says Relogix is gaining traction in the health-care industry, particularly south of the border, and has a foothold in the federal government as well. Still, he says some companies are reluctant to invest in new technology amid lingering uncertainty about the future of the office and the spectre of a recession. “The macroeconomic situation is quite dire,” Millar admits. “If the whole commercial real estate industry kind of shrinks down, let’s say, that’s our addressable market. It’s a scary time. “There’s no question that companies are still one foot on the brake, one foot on the gas,” he adds. “Purse strings are tight.” At the same time, Millar says Relogix – which closed a $4 million venture-capital round in 2019 and added to its fundraising tally during the pandemic – is on the verge of being cash-flow positive and is keeping a close eye on its spending as it aims for profitability. “The last three years have been a wild ride, that’s for sure,” he says. “If we can come out the other side and everything comes back in a year, we’ll be stronger for it.”
Already an Insider? Log in
- Critical Ottawa business news and analysis updated daily.
- Immediate access to all Insider-only content on our website.
- 4 issues per year of the Ottawa Business Journal magazine.
- Special bonus issues like the Ottawa Book of Lists.
- Discounted registration for OBJ’s in-person events.