COMMENT | How smart building technology transforms the office value proposition
Post-pandemic, certain smart building tech solutions can give landlords an attractive and unprecedented tool to attract tenants, particularly in the new world of hybrid working, writes Nate Hewitt of Equiem.
The future of commercial real estate is uncertain. However, we believe that offices can achieve new relevance and purpose in the hybrid-working world as hubs of measurable productivity. Employees will have their home offices, with all the attendant benefits, such as work-hour flexibility and the lack of commute, but the office can be more than a cumbersome like-for-like substitute, or a periodic meeting place.
If landlords can prove that their buildings are quantifiably better for productivity than the home office, then companies have a compelling reason to continue renewing leases.
What makes people productive?
The answer is simpler than we might think. According to Metrikus, Equiem’s partner in providing Smart, Equiem’s building occupancy and air quality tracking system, lower CO2 levels make for more productive humans. Citing research from the UK, they point out that high levels of CO2 cause a 23% impairment in decision making, and an 11% reduction in productivity.
Cold, confined, and poorly ventilated spaces are all too common, and they are bad for the working professional. At home, windows can be easily opened, and air conditioning easily regulated. There is no fighting for space, nor standing shoulder-to-shoulder with sickly peers in crowded elevators. So, it is obvious that comfort is best fostered at home. But individuals, particularly young people, want to come into the office. They want to collaborate, to hustle, to access knowledge and absorb experience from the veterans in their orbit. If you can inject home comforts, thermal control, CO2 regulation, confidence in the ability to remain socially distant, you can make your workplace a viable HQ.
For instance, Equiem’s Smart solution tracks lobby traffic, building occupancy, air quality and more across tenancies, common areas, elevators, buildings, and entire portfolios. All of which is fed to the client in real time, helping to improve the health and wellbeing, and thus the productivity, of tenants.
Smart works using small, non-invasive sensors that are placed in regular intervals throughout buildings. The sensors capture data and send it to dashboards on a minute-by-minute basis. From there, landlords and building managers can filter that data to tenants.
Quantifiable data is within your grasp and once you have it, you can easily couple it with qualitative feedback, such as company satisfaction surveys, to demonstrate clear value to hybrid-geared tenants.
What about space?
Being able to demonstrate the causal link between air quality and productivity is one benefit of a smart building solution, another, which is of urgent interest to tenants, is space. How is space being used, when, and by whom? How much of that space is easily usable or modifiable?
Smart building technology allows you to see, in real time, how buildings and offices are being occupied – what your tenant densities are, where the high-traffic points are, and more.
This is an attractive value proposition to tenants. Equiem’s Smart can keep you safe and socially distanced, show you the usage habits of your employees over time, and cross-reference this data with other metrics to give you a better picture of office wellbeing and productivity.
Take JP Morgan Chase, who has just announced it will significantly reduce its office footprint in the coming years. CEO Jamie Dimon said the firm will “quickly move to a more open seating arrangement, in which digital tools will help manage seating arrangements, as well as needed amenities, such as conference room space.” JP Morgan Chase sees the value in solutions that track and manage space, and it is very likely their move will influence many other companies soon.
Getting started with a smart building integration need not be difficult. Download Equiem’s free eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Tenant Experience, and pick up our best-practice strategies for technological adoption.