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It goes without saying that from the past twenty years, we are experiencing a technological revolution. Starting with smartphones, now every other appliance from watches, speakers, TVs, to the most recent cars have been upgraded to get smart through advanced technologies. Workplaces are not exempted from this upgrade. In fact, technology has been the greatest influence on global workplaces over the past 10 years. There are four main reasons for this: 

  1. The emergence of new tech giants has increased the demand for offices directly and indirectly in the global real estate market.
  2. The best in class offices set up by these tech titans throughout the globe has elevated the workplaces discussions occurring across the industries.
  3. More relevant in past months than ever, the hardware and software from these Silicon Valley tech giants have revolutionised how we work, when we work and from where we work.
  4. The structural changes are continued throughout businesses around the globe due to new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, etc. Post pandemic, the tech companies will continue to set the tone for global workspaces, despite all the air about tech companies abandoning offices. An example could be the CEO of Google recently announcing an investment of US$7 billion to expand and build out data centres and offices in the United States.

Data is the key to future technological advancements in offices. This influence of technology will not only be limited to sectors being the boldest user group but instead, have a universal and more direct effect on all offices. At the heart of “smart buildings” is the installation of an integrated network of sensors to collect a wide range of real-time, rich, and analytical data helping the office to become more technologically advanced to support optimisation and operation of the space. These data-generating sensors interconnected through the Internet of Things (IoT) in the structures of office buildings will have a fivefold increase within a decade reaching 75.4 billion devices by 2025 from 15.4 billion in 2015, with 30.7 billion IoT connected devices globally in 2020. With the astounding growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) using sensor technology, the opportunities for workplaces are immense from a range of building management issues like temperature and air quality management to monitoring occupancy and motion helping us comprehend the employee-workplace dynamics.

This makes it no surprise that 51% of the respondents in a survey of global corporate real estate professionals expect to make greater use of data to inform their real estate and workplace decision making over the next three years, with only 6% of respondents expecting a decrease in usage of data for the same. The aim of adopting smart office buildings is to optimise, curate and sustain the workplace through enabling intervention in reconfiguration and redesign and creating an experience that has a capacity to shape the way people interact, work, and produce. There are of course some moral and ethical considerations about the collection of real-time employee data. However, after carefully navigating through them, the building level technology and data will allow corporate real estate professionals to make informed real estate recommendations and create an office that truly supports business strategy.  

(This is based on “(Y)our space” report by Knight Frank)


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