It’s hard to imagine a life without technology. From the moment we wake up, to the moment we go to bed, we’re immersed in a personalized smart technology ecosystem that is built to observe, learn from, and improve our everyday experiences.
Consumer technologies are everywhere. They include smartphones (of which more than half of Americans check 160 times per day), modern digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, and IoT devices that cover physical objects that are embedded with sensors, cloud-based software, and other technologies to connect and exchange data over the internet.
The benefits of such technology are limitless. The more information you feed into these systems, the more they can automate for your needs. This means that smart devices will learn your habits and provide you with more services that complement those habits. You’ve probably already noticed the prompts on your phone that optimize your work commute in order to avoid traffic, or Spotify’s uncanny ability to discover new bands that perfectly match your interests for every mood.
Smart technology can also be used to automate complex processes behind the scenes. For example — from phones to HVAC systems — certain equipment can proactively allow for remote diagnosis and repair when issues occur, or even send servicing information to prevent downtime. Though we don’t always see these things happening, they ensure that the technology and/or system is up-to-date and functioning, thus saving us from the hassle of troubleshooting in a technology-indulgent world.
With every aspect of our lives fueled by technology, it was only a matter of time before the commercial real estate (CRE) industry followed suit. After all, we spend about one-third of our lives at work, and the office sector only serves to benefit from matching consumer habits and establishing smart, desirable office buildings. Here’s how smart technology in the office can generate value in the present, and create a strong foundation for the future — all through the tenant experience.
A “Smart” Return to Office
The CRE industry is currently facing an era of digital transformation at such a fast pace that it can be difficult to navigate. In our post-pandemic world, the proptech (and with much overlap, the smart technology) industry has massively accelerated in growth. According to a MarketsAndMarkets report, the growth of the smart technology industry can be attributed directly to “the rising adoption of IoT-enabled building management systems, rising awareness of space utilization, increased industry standards and regulations, and increased demand for energy efficient systems.” Additionally, the demand for smart technology in buildings has only gained more momentum in the aftermath of COVID-19, where modern health and safety protocols require the implementation of more touchless, sanitary experiences across the world.
In the same vein, we know that 81% of CFOs plan to change their workplace safety requirements to address lingering infection-related anxieties for staff, tenants, and property teams. Fortunately, such changes can be easily facilitated through technology that focuses on a building’s end-users — also known as tenant experience technology. Below are just four ways your office building can increase customer satisfaction and generate immediate value:
- Access Control. Guarantee seamless (and touchless) access to any entrance in your office through the use of access control. Mobile sensors help building occupants and visitors enter the building and dedicated areas through their smartphones — meaning that individuals will never need to touch a physical door, turnstile, elevator, garage, gate, or more ever again.
- Office Sanitation. Much of what is already in place in the hospitality industry can be applied to CRE. For example, touchless hand sanitizer solutions — which are maintained through IoT technology sensors — can be distributed throughout. Likewise, hospital-grade UV-C disinfecting lights exist to kill over 99.99% of pathogens in a safe, without ever having to touch a physical surface.
- Capacity Management. Tenant experience software can be leveraged to safely return tenants and employees to buildings through capacity management and resource booking. An effective capacity manager tool will allow property teams to easily screen the employees that come to the office on a given day. Likewise, shared resources such as conference rooms and other office space can also be digitally reserved for suggested time slots to help enforce recent health and safety protocols.
- Mapping Building Flow and Usage. Indoor mapping and wayfinding features — such as the ones provided by HqOS Marketplace partner Mapwize — can be utilized to improve space management and floor plans throughout the building. This empowers building occupants to be autonomous without asking for directions; defines new entrances, paths, and directions to avoid crowded areas; highlights important point of interests such as hand sanitizers or free meeting rooms; and creates multiple map views and control access for employees, maintenance, and security agents.
Establishing a Tech-Enabled Foundation
As one might imagine, the various technology solutions for the office that are being implemented now are soon to become the new building standards of the industry. This means that moving forward, property teams that have already customized their building technology systems will have a competitive advantage in the market. The reasoning is simple: each digital offering that appeals to a tech-driven workforce will serve as a differentiator for your building.
Thus, investments in smart technologies to enhance the tenant experience should be adopted with an adaptable mindset. Not only can they help return tenants to buildings, but they can be used to achieve longer-term goals and experiences for your workplace. Here are a few additional solutions that will keep tenants connected to the office — now and in the future — through frictionless, memorable, and engaging experiences:
- Digital Programming. To improve work-life balance and offer better workplace experiences, property teams can strengthen their digital tenant experience tactics by offering non-work related programming to tenants and their employees to encourage breaks throughout the day, promote overall wellness, and even encourage family participation. For example, the HqO platform helps establish these experiences by providing building occupants with fun and engaging activities that include everything from weekly trivia options, fitness and wellness courses that can be taken safely at an on-site facility or at home, virtual group volunteering options, giveaways and in-app offers for local retailers, and much, much more.
- Food Services. Order ahead and contactless food delivery options can not only help with modern health and safety regulations, but also with tenant and employee convenience in the long run. A properly programmed tenant app can offer in-app deals and specials to tenants for their favorite lunch spots, as well as allow them to order through the app, skip the lines, and save time throughout the day.
- Commuting Options. Tenant commute is another aspect of tenant experience that is top of mind in the present — and having a technology-enabled commute will only serve to benefit the overall building community moving forward as an integral part of the workplace experience. Allowing tenants to track public transit options, take advantage of micromobility offerings (such as city bikes or scooters), and to reserve and access nearby parking through touchless means will reduce frustrations with commuting and delight your tenants.
The Future of the Office is Now
At the end of the day, the modern workplace needs to become as dynamic and adaptable as tenants’ needs. This indicates that not only does a building need to be smart to make the end-user journey as easy and seamless as possible, but it also needs to improve upon today’s health and safety regulations, as well as to provide more personal, customer-first experiences throughout.
These aspects of smart technology are already coming together to change tenant expectations of the workplace, by establishing the office amenities and experiences of the future. The more we engage with this new era of building innovation, the more we can cultivate the full, well-rounded experiences that tenants expect — thereby successfully attracting and retaining tenants and generating value throughout every office portfolio.
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