The humble office building is on the cusp of a revolution, as both investors and occupiers are realising the strongest case yet for a switch to smarter buildings.

These seemingly inconspicuous blocks of steel and glass house cutting-edge sensory networks and machine learning algorithms, crafted towards creating ideal environments for office workers to realize their most empowered, productive and connected selves.

While this accelerating shift towards intelligent office space is certainly great news, few are aware of the full gamut of benefits – so here’s the lowdown on what smart buildings bring to the table:

#1. PERSONALIZE the human experience

The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is on its way out as organizations increasingly recognize employees as individuals and start to explore greater personalization of the workplace. Smart building technologies can easily optimize users’ (employees, clients and guests) comfort levels via seamless anticipation of real-time environmental changes alongside their individual preferences.

Such customized feedback loops provide a genuinely individualized, empowering and friction-free experience, and have been found to drive direct employee productivity gains of between 0.5% and 5%.

#2. CONNECT an increasingly dispersed workforce

A key global trend is the growing reality of a spatially dispersed workforce. This is in part driven by a growing preference for remote working patterns, and is simultaneously propelled by the rise of the ‘gig economy’ or ‘liquid workforce’ – comprising independent workers such as freelancers, contract workers and part-timers.

As organizations navigate this new paradigm of a growing contingent workforce, they may find multiple benefits from smart building technologies.

For one, office space utilization will be optimized via real-time occupancy data, reducing unnecessary overheads and improving the efficiency of the corporate real estate portfolio. Secondly, organizations are better able to pivot in response to the fast-changing needs of an on-demand workforce.

Thirdly, integrated technologies such as telepresence robots and virtual reality technologies foster a greater sense of connectedness and engagement among workers operating in disparate locations. Of course, keeping in mind that the building can only go so far – the human-to-human element is still key to nurturing great workplaces.

#3. FUTURE-PROOF your real estate portfolio

Last but not least, smart buildings drive significant returns on investment for both investors and occupiers over the long term. Highly intertwined sensors and equipment networks embedded throughout the building allows building managers to better manage energy consumption and reduce the building’s carbon footprint. Combining advanced building control technologies with energy-efficient fit-outs can reduce energy-related costs by as much as 20% within the first year.

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