In today’s competitive world, employees are increasingly expecting more from the workplace, while companies are seeking ways to attract and retain the best talent and improve productivity. Choosing a smart building approach to the workplace can help companies create differentiated experiences, improve collaboration and innovation, and optimise space and operational costs, while at the same time making best use of their real estate portfolio.
What is a Smart Workplace?
A smart workplace uses a combination of engineering systems, design approaches, and digital technologies to integrate previously disparate systems and create an intelligent building that responds to occupants’ needs. It does this by providing real time information on space, people, environmental conditions and energy use. Smart workplace performance can be optimised through data collection and analytics, with its systems automated, remotely monitored and controlled.
The Business Case for Smart Workplace
It is widely-known that many ‘millennials’ value a healthy work environment very highly. Yet, according to statistics from the British Council for Offices, 39% of employees say their workplace does not support wellbeing.
As the line between private life and work is becoming increasingly blurred, employees of many businesses are expecting more from their workplace. They are looking for a comfortable environment equipped with technology services that match or exceed the performance of those they have at home. With ubiquitous digitization of services, workers now expect that the workplace provides the same digital experience they are used to with services such as Airbnb, Uber and Amazon.
To attract the most talented employees, businesses have to raise their game to offer more technologically-advanced, attractive and healthy work environments that are likely to increase productivity.
Traditionally, businesses have regarded offices as a cost centre, so they have focused on optimising energy usage and minimising rental costs. But according to commercial property consultants at JLL, organisations annually spend on average $3 per square foot per year on utilities, $30 on rent and $300 on payroll. This means that even a few percentage of increased productivity is more than potential savings on energy and rent.
Smart approach to workplace regards offices not as a cost centre but as a strategic driver of value. The focus is on increasing revenues through boosting productivity, innovation and collaboration, as well as attracting and retaining talent. This smart approach can also reduce absenteeism, bring down occupancy and service costs, as well as utility and maintenance costs.
All stakeholders in a smart workplace can benefit: the business can achieve improved productivity and provide better work experience for employees; employees can be happier and more productive as they are able to interact with the building to be more efficient and create personalised environments; human resources teams can use the benefits of smart workplace to enhance employer brand, talent attraction and retention; while real estate teams can reduce operating costs, increase energy efficiency and enhance their ability to measure space performance and adapt as necessary; for developers or landlords, a smart workplace approach can secure a new revenue stream, increase the competitive advantage of their building, provide them with sustainability credentials and the positive publicity that can result from developing an innovative building.