How dynamic services and smart tech are advancing the future of work

Dynamic services and smart tech are reshaping the modern workplace.

The world of work has been turned on its head over the past two years. Not only is hybrid working here to stay, but employees have new workplace expectations amid evolving wellbeing, environmental and social concerns. As the purpose of the office is redefined, workplace and portfolio management strategies are becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated, necessitating greater reliance on CRE technologies and data-driven insights to meet employee expectations and boost performance on all fronts.

As companies emerge from the crisis created by the pandemic, corporate real estate (CRE) executives’ view of the workplace is evolving. More than half of organizations will make remote working a permanent option for all employees by 2025, according to JLL’s latest Future of Work research. However, more than 70% of CRE executives agree that the office will continue to be a central part of their workplace ecosystems in the long term.

As employees adapt to the post-pandemic world and office usage patterns continue to evolve, the office is being reimagined for new purposes. A new vision of the agile, smart office and CRE portfolio is taking shape, supported by dynamic workplace services aligned with today’s employee needs.

Hybrid work brings new challenges

In the hybrid work model, the “office” has morphed into a workplace ecosystem encompassing the office, home and third-party spaces. For many organizations, the corporate office is becoming the primary destination for group work, including training, mentoring, collaboration and focusing around a specific project. In fact, 45% of CRE executives view collaborative working as a primary purpose of office space.

The office still matters as a tool for talent recruitment and retention, but employees increasingly expect flexible work policies, too. While hybrid working appeals to employees, it means that corporate office occupancy can vary widely throughout any given week or month, leading to sometimes-empty spaces, excess facility management capacity and unnecessary operating expenses. It’s no wonder that JLL’s Future of Work research shows that the most important strategic priority for corporate real estate executives over the next three years will be to successfully operationalize hybrid working and enable their organizations to remain agile and flexible.

The era of dynamic workplace services has arrived

Responding to today’s demands, forward-looking organizations are incorporating a new concept into their facility management (FM) model: dynamic service provisioning. While an FM team must provide certain services, including building security or equipment maintenance, regardless of daily occupancy, other FM services potentially could be calibrated according to space usage. In dynamic provisioning, the FM team proactively curates and manages a flexible level of workplace services - including emerging offerings related to employee wellbeing and remote work in response to real-time occupancy.

Just as some components of your real estate portfolio may be fixed or flexible, workplace services can become a combination of fixed and flexible offerings scaled according to data-driven insights.

Through dynamic provisioning, an FM team selectively and continuously adjusts the delivery of certain services, such as cleaning or foodservice, while delivering core services at a consistent level. Dynamic provisioning and other on-demand, scalable workplace approaches are made possible with predictive insights derived from the data produced by today’s building and workplace technologies. Data generated by wireless sensors, room reservation systems and security badge swipes can be analyzed to uncover workplace trends and needs and then inform service levels accordingly. 

In dynamic cleaning services, for example, data from wireless sensors will alert the FM team that a space has been used, enabling the cleaning team to focus cleaning precisely where and when needed. Using predictive analytics to forecast office usage, the FM team can right-size an onsite cafeteria or provide food options in multiple sites across a campus rather than three meals a day in a centralized cafeteria.

Dynamic provisioning is most applicable to offices, universities, and possibly retail facilities with varying usage and a need for high-touch service when occupancy is high. It is less relevant in facilities with constant operations, including data centers or high-volume distribution warehouses, that need a constant level of FM attention. However, building automation, smart building technologies and the data they generate are valuable to many property types, including manufacturing facilities, life sciences laboratories and data centers.

The role of smart building technologies

The hybrid model complicates workplace and portfolio management, and makes operational decisions more complex. As the purpose of the workplace evolves, it’s clear that facilities data are critical. A myriad of technologies is available to collect real-time data and generate predictive insights to inform daily FM services.

The pressing need for insights based on real-time data is why nearly 80% of CRE executives plan to incorporate at least 10 of 15 key technologies required for the hybrid model, according to JLL research. Inherent in every corporate real estate technology roadmap is the need for interoperable and scalable solutions that can integrate data from a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), building automation systems (BAS), sensors, and other sources now and into the future. Equally important is data governance: standardizing, validating and maintaining data.

Smart building technologies have an important role to play. Combining software with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, smart building platforms monitor various building systems, analyze the data, and generate insights about usage patterns and trends that can be used to optimize the building’s environment and operations. For instance, a smart building management platform can direct the building automation system to turn the HVAC on and off in response to real-time carbon dioxide levels or meeting room occupancy.

Leading companies are already using these technologies to shape sustainable, high-quality, compliant, safe, cost-effective and creative workplaces that anticipate and respond to employees needs and preferences. Through constant fine-tuning continuous commissioning of building systems, smart building management platforms contribute to net zero carbon goals by reducing energy waste by as much as 20% while also improving the employee experience and productivity with better air quality and temperature control.1

In addition, a smart building management platform generates insights indicating equipment performance issues for remediation to prevent total breakdown. Proactive maintenance, in turn, reduces maintenance costs and extends equipment life for lower capital expenses, too.

Smart buildings also appeal to property investors. Energy-efficient buildings typically earn higher rental rates, higher occupancy levels and higher sales prices than less-efficient properties.2

While you can justify investing in smart building solutions for the cost savings alone, equally important is how data and automation can contribute to efficient space management and high-quality space. For example, the data generated by workplace sensors, smart lighting systems and smart furniture with built-in sensors to detect a human presence can be used to inform space planning and dynamic service provisioning in response to occupancy levels.

Looking forward

Alongside the short-term challenges of improving operational agility, resilience and efficiency, organizations are planning ahead for longer-term workplace changes. Now is the time to re-assess the people, processes and technologies you’ll need for the hybrid future of work.

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