Posted on 12 December 2018

How smart buildings help attract and retain smart people

There’s now a wealth of evidence showing how smart tech functionality makes offices super-efficient and brings down operating costs. But, in the 20-plus smart buildings projects we’ve implemented over the last three years, the big wins have always been in improved employee health and wellbeing. For smart companies those wins mean productivity gains and a boost to their employer brand.

Getting smart about wellness and productivity

Improving health and wellbeing goes well beyond reducing absenteeism. A good working environment motivates employees, makes work more enjoyable and improves performance. A 2014 study by the University of Warwick, UK found that happy workers are 12% more productive.

The latest healthy office research from CBRE, the world’s leading global real estate advisor, identified five drivers of workplace productivity:

• Natural space

• Lighting

• Nutrition

• Mental balance

• Physical exercise.

Simply having the right lighting improved performance by 12% and over 70% of respondents reported feeling happier and more energised in an office with the right lighting.

The world’s largest workplace effectiveness benchmarking tool – the Leesman Index – also identified noise levels, temperature / lighting controls and air quality, alongside separate spaces for solo work and collaborative projects, as key factors in workplace productivity. If you prefer an energised team to workers suffering from a post-lunch slump, or you want to concentrate on some deep work rather than be distracted by colleagues’ phone calls, a smart building could be the answer.

How proud of your company are you?

This is one of the questions in the Leesman Index research. When employees feel good about their office space, they tend to feel good about their employer. I’m not talking about gimmicks such as slides, ping-pong tables and free beer. In most developed economies, demand for talent outstrips supply, and technology that helps people work flexibly helps you attract and retain the best talent.

By 2025, Millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce. According to a recent Deloitte study, they want to work for organisations that foster innovative thinking, develop their skills, and make a positive contribution to society. Companies who invest in smart building tech appeal to this demographic because:

• It’s an obvious path to reducing carbon emissions.

• The connectivity fuels freedom and productivity. Millennials might be happy to be tied to their phones, but they don’t want to be tied to a desk. They expect hot-desking, remote working and more fluid working patterns. They want the freedom to determine what works best for them at any given time – a social environment to share ideas and boost their skills and knowledge base, or a quiet space for focussed work.

• It helps them communicate and collaborate better. Sensors can tell if a colleague is in the building, where exactly they are at any given moment, and even if a certain conference room is booked and for how long. Integrated platforms make it easier to share documents, communicate and give instant feedback, regardless of location.

The Edge Olympic building in Amsterdam reflects the company’s values of sustainability and a desire to recruit and nurture talented professionals. Microsoft employees and guests expect certain tech innovations, such as voice control to dim lights, locate colleagues or find free desks. As employees increasingly use smart technology in their personal lives, they don’t want to feel they are taking a step backwards when they go to the office.

A workplace where technology promotes wellbeing and enables people to work smarter makes good business sense. Companies are increasingly seeing the competitive advantage of making their buildings fluid, agile environments. They’re using this advantage to improve employee experience and win the war for talent.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have any topics, concerns or questions that you’d like us to cover in future blogs, please let us know. You can contact us here.

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