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Analysis: How proptech could generate an economic recovery

The rise in empty office space since the COVID-19 pandemic began has become a major financial liability for businesses as remote and hybrid work policies created a situation where companies are paying rent for unused real estate. While it might seem that executives and commercial real estate owners have no answer until workers return to their offices full-time, there is a potential solution to help them better manage their costs: Proptech.

Facility Executive Magazine reports that the advancements in proptech, short for property technology, can help CRE owners lower their buildings’ energy costs as well as assist employers in making an office return more attractive to their staff.

Keep reading to discover four proptech-focused strategies CRE owners and executives can implement to create a long-term economic recovery, according to Facility Executive Magazine.

Optimize space usage

Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled sensors placed in a building’s lighting infrastructure can help capture large amounts of data. That combined with people-counting technology can show how many people enter a certain part of a property, allowing CRE owners to better understand usage patterns. Such data can help organizations see when and how their spaces are being used and take that information to rethink how to set up their workspaces. Focusing on space usage could also help companies reduce their footprint, which might improve employee satisfaction as well as decrease their energy bills.

Facilitate effective workflows

The aforementioned people-counting technology can also help CRE owners and businesses understand how people move throughout their buildings. If the data reveals congestion in certain areas, organizations can revise their floor plans so it is easier for people to maneuver or create additional collaboration spaces if necessary.

Additionally, real time location services (RTLS) combine people-counting data with asset tracking, Facility Executive reports. This combination keeps a real-time log of where key elements are located and how a tenant can get to them most easily. For example, RTLS could help a warehouse worker find an important piece of equipment faster, saving a company time and money.

Create energy savings

Energy costs are one of the biggest expenses building owners endure. Proptech solutions like automated lighting systems can help CRE owners and businesses lower energy costs. These systems can help organizations better understand facility usage, monitor energy consumption and leverage ambient light, Facility Executive reports. Monitoring systems can help ensure that heating and cooling energy is not being wasted in unoccupied spaces. Energy monitoring systems aren’t just good for lowering costs, they’re helpful for the environment. Today CRE buildings are responsible for approximately one-third of global gas emissions. Data and building IoT solutions can help reduce those emissions and contribute to a business’s net zero goals.

Create a more desirable workplace

Employees may enjoy the flexibility that comes from working remotely, but it’s not the only reason they haven’t returned to their offices yet, Facility Executive reports. Employees want to feel like coming back is worth it — they have specific demands they want met if they’re going to work in-person full-time again, according to Gensler Research Institute’s U.S. Workplace Survey 2022.

“Employees are looking for offices that are both effective in supporting their ability to focus on their work and offer a more desirable mix of experiences,” the survey said.

Some of the demands include comfortable coffee shop-like spaces or quiet, creative spaces, similar to a library rather than cubicles and the standard office lighting. Research also showed that employees in high-performing office spaces are more productive and look forward to working in the office.

“Business leaders should carefully consider the physical office environment they provide for employees so they can maximize productivity and facilitate a rewarding experience,” Enlightened CEO Stefan Schwab wrote for Facility Executive. “Sensors, building data, wayfinding apps, and employee experience apps that foster collaboration for office time that is meaningful provide the framework for high productivity and satisfaction.”

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