Fluctuations in the real estate market are nothing new, but the current situation just feels different than anything that has come before. The normal process of gradual rebounding is complicated by factors that were not involved — not even imagined — in previous cycles of boom and bust.
Remote and hybrid work models, a new understanding of the workplace and a fundamental realignment of the role of work in the lives of millions has delayed the recovery that would normally be expected two or three years on from a major event like the COVID pandemic.
Taking a walk through any big city’s downtown commercial area is a very different experience now than it was before 2020. Empty storefronts at street level and empty offices higher up are now the norm. Occupancy levels are barely half of what they were three years ago and right now there is little reason to expect them to climb much higher.
Property owners are being hit from all sides by a perfect storm of changing trends, a market in transition and even macroeconomic elements turning against them, with rising interest rates further depressing demand and prices.
But there is a silver lining in all of this for organizations that can recognize the opportunity. High-end office space has been an exception to the rule when it comes to demand. One reason for this is that many building occupants are upgrading their office space while right-sizing their real estate commitments to better align with their actual needs.
The result is a better, more attractive workspace that is cost-optimized for actual needs. Every organization should be looking at this now and taking advantage of this rare chance to come out on the other side with better, less expensive office conditions.
Doing this is easier with smart building solutions powered by IoT to help determine real needs through digital insights into workflows.
You hear a lot about “smart” solutions, “smart” buildings, “smart technologies” and more. But what is “smart” anyway? “Smart” space management or “smart” anything refers to the use of sensors that bridge the online-offline divide and collect location-based information that can then be used to enable any number of applications.
With a digital twin of any space, it’s easier to visualize workflows and the movement of people and things in a way that is impossible through manual observation. “Smart” solutions of all kinds depend on the transfer of insights gained through digital transparency to the offline world. They help to achieve more efficient use of resources, resolve bottlenecks & workflow interruptions and deliver efficiencies that benefit occupants.
Companies with hybrid or remote work models, which is to say most companies today, need to know how much space is being used by fewer in-office employees, which means solutions for occupancy tracking have a key role to play.
Today’s workforce has higher expectations when it comes to the standard of the office that they are expected to use for however many hours they spend in the office. In a competitive market for talent, how an office is furnished and organized counts for more than ever before.
That’s why the trend towards higher-end, premium office space is not just a result of lower, more attractive prices, but market imperatives as well.
Still, even for an organization ready to upgrade, how do you know how much space you really need?
How can you determine that you have just the right amount of office space to meet the needs of your staff? Is the amount of space you’re using based on estimates? Have you ever used any tools to quantify your needs and compare them to the space you’re using now?
With smart building solutions, constructing detailed use patterns of your office space is easy. With this digital representation of traffic flows and occupancy rates, you can get documented proof of how the space you pay for every month is or isn’t aligned with your actual needs in a way that simple manual observation never can.
Right-sizing real estate commitments is a basic element of the transition to smart offices and the savings can be significant. But there are other related, secondary costs that fall when the main expense of office space is reduced, including:
Workspaces need to be more comfortable in order to get employees back in the office but they also need to be better at enabling productivity while workers are there. This means fewer rows of desks and spaces meant for different sizes of groups with different kinds of tasks.
Setting up flexible seating options is a good place to start for any office that hasn’t already made this move. The trend away from traditional cubicles and desks towards more flexible seating options, such as standing desks, couches and more is easy to see. These changes allow employees to move around during the day in order to stay comfortable and productive. It also provides a chance for businesses to add some personality into their workspace with brightly colored furniture or a unique touch of style.
Different kinds and sizes of collaborative spaces are becoming a must-have in any modern office setup. These areas provide a place for teams to come together for both formal meetings and informal conversations. They can also help foster creativity by providing plenty of space for group brainstorming sessions or team-building exercises. Many companies have found that these collaborative spaces are essential for creating a healthy workplace culture where employees feel connected and valued.
All in all, these trends point towards a workplace that is geared towards helping employees feel connected while still maximizing efficiency within the organization.
Everything is getting smarter—our phones, our cars, even our homes. So why not our office spaces? With smart space management technology, you can make your office work smarter, too. By optimizing and automating the use of your office space, you can improve employee productivity, reduce operational costs, create a safer workplace and much more.
Smart technology solutions have never been more accessible and more deployments are going live every day. Managing large, complex office spaces will always be a challenge, but today it’s easy to take advantage of solutions that help you to get the most value out of your office space.
Not sure where to start? Talk to our Sales team today to learn more.
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