Creating a Radical Step-Change in Business Improvement
For most organisations, the two largest investments are people and premises. So, when organisations redefine the relationship between their employees and their property, it’s no surprise that efficiency and effectiveness gains can have an extraordinary impact on the bottom line.
It’s this catalyst for change and the benefits that derive from it that has me as a business leader excited about Smart Buildings and Smart Workspaces. The opportunity is so much bigger than the often promoted gains in energy and carbon reduction. Smart Buildings have the potential to engage people to work smarter and be more productive; attracting the best talent, enabling their flexible work preferences and providing an environment that is both easy and satisfying to use. But let’s save that for later. What we should consider first is the simple, powerful financial benefits.
Imagine an office for, say, 500 employees. At any one time, up to 250 could be in meetings, out on business, on vacation or otherwise away from their desks for a variety of reasons. Farfetched? Well actually, no: in a recent Utilisation of the Office study, Advanced Workplace Associates report that despite the cost, office space utilisation in cities like London is running as low as 50%. This means that, between the hours of 8:30am – 5:30pm every day, each desk or meeting room is fully occupied just half of the time. There are many other sources that suggest similar and it is little different in other major commercial cities around the world.
Smart Buildings have the potential to help organisations understand in detail the way in which their workspace is being utilised and apply common sense to the complex challenge of managing property effectively. It does this thanks to real-time data rather than expensive and out of date workplace studies or, far risker, management judgement.
In a truly smart buildings world, that 500 (or 5,000) person office will engage with the people who work and visit there to create an intuitive, flexible and highly productive workspace. We will provide examples of some of the applications that make this possible in future commentary. The key here is that the very same applications that provide engagement for people working in or visiting smart buildings also provides data about how the building is being used. While this information can be used to fine-tune building management systems to reduce energy consumption, far greater impact arises when the data is used to better-organise and configure the building to meet the demands of the modern workplace.
Analysing this data helps real estate managers plan and modify workplaces to become more productive. Data insights demonstrate to business leaders that they often have a lot more room than they realise, and need much less room than they think. Organisations adopting this smart-technology approach have driven office utilisation well above 80% alongside improving employee engagement and wellbeing.
In individual buildings the savings available for improving workplace engagement in this way can run into millions of pounds per year, as materially less space is needed to support a modern workforce in a Smart Building than the more traditional equivalent. For larger campuses and global estates the value of this change is significantly higher.
As a business leader, I am part of a management team that makes decisions about property leases and real estate costs. Costs are increasing, especially in London and other sought-after city locations. Unaware of opportunities afforded by smart buildings, management teams can find themselves making material spending commitments based on limited data, leaving an increasingly critical part of their long-term strategy relying on little more than past experience.
For those entering the world of Smart Buildings, this will be a thing of the past with smart technology innovation setting the standard for designing, building and managing real estate.
As work changes, so too does the way people interact with their workplace. Mobility encourages a sense of entrepreneurial freedom and, when harnessed correctly, helps to attract talent and improve performance.
This is innovation that makes a difference and doesn’t just tinker around the edges of the organisation’s P&L.
Thank you for reading,