Technology influences so many aspects of our lives, the internet, our phones, devices that help us out around the house, our systems at work. Whilst all these things have helped ourselves to be more productive, what about the productivity of buildings? The rise in popularity in smart devices for our homes, designed to make them more efficient or adapt to our rhythms of life has made the adoption of the “Internet of Things” (IoT) commonplace in homes across the UK.
But what about commercial buildings? If these solutions are being used in our homes, surely, they must be in commercial settings too? This blog looks at Smart Buildings and why developers are starting to invest in this technology to better understand how they work and to improve the productivity of the people using them.
What are Smart Buildings?
A smart building uses a range of technology, such as sensors and actuators, to gather activity data on various aspects within the building so it can be analysed and utilised to find out which operations can run more efficiently.
Once the operations that need to be improved are pinpointed, the smart building technology connects systems together in order to optimise them through automation to make the building more efficient, cutting costs and lowering its environmental impact.
Whilst a smart building is optimised by technology, the same technology can be used to improve the quality of conditions for occupants in order to aid their safety, comfort and productivity.
The adoption of smart tech
Whilst some of the tech we use at home is reasonably priced and easily adopted, it’s not always the case with the adoption of high-end IoT solutions within commercial buildings. As understanding increases and experience develops in regards to implementing such solutions, Smart Buildings will become more commonplace within the development landscape – shown by data from Statisa indicating the number of IoT device connections within buildings to increase tenfold from 2019 to 2025.
Whilst that’s encouraging for developers and organisations who can afford to be early adopters, for most businesses and developers the business case for smart buildings probably starts with a more simplistic approach, at least initially. Traditional Multi-Dwelling Unit solutions are great places to start by utilising building connectivity to improve tenant experience, reduce cost and drive efficiencies through the data obtained. These solutions are increasingly common when visiting modern offices and places of work and are designed to work with typical office infrastructure – making it much more accessible and cost-effective to developers and businesses alike.
What are tenants looking for?
In an increasingly connected world, it’s no surprise that connectivity is at the top of tenant’s priorities when it comes to their buildings. Wired Score reported that 95% of commercial tenants they surveyed stated that access to reliable internet is critical in their office space, and with 92% stating that over 50% of their role depends on reliable connectivity it’s no surprise.
In a post-COVID world, the importance of flexibility and safety is also paramount – ensuring that buildings have the security in place to only allow authorised personnel to enter, monitor who’s visited and create the space required for adequate social distancing and hotdesking as required.
Flexibility also requires systems to be accessible from various locations and rely on cloud services for the employee experience to be consistent both inside and outside of the office. Whilst this responsibility lies somewhat with the business or tenant themselves, ensuring as a developer or landlord that the infrastructure is in place for tenants to install hosted phone systems, utilise managed WiFi (for when workers are hotdesking) and support the addition of new devices onto the network is key.
More complex IoT solutions allow to monitor the movement of people within a space, manage the use of utilities to provide the optimal working environment and reduction in cost and waste as well as the condition of other assets within the building to provide a holistic overview of the building. Workthere’s “What coworkers want” survey highlighted Building Essentials (such as temperature, air quality and security) as the area with the biggest satisfaction gap, followed closely by Connectivity and “Wellbeing and Environment” – highlighting the increasing demand for developers and businesses to address these concerns.
How can you stay ahead of the curve?
If you’re a developer wondering how you can attract more tenants or work more effectively with businesses to produce a space that meets tenant expectations both now in the future, you’re not alone.
Technology is constantly evolving and changing in terms of what it can do and the accessibility of different solutions. However, from experience, commercial smart building solutions are unique to the client’s recommendations a lot of the time. At Connexin we recommend making sure that you are clear on what your tenant needs, or if you don’t have a tenant – what prospective tenants are looking for.
This helps you focus and prioritise on the important areas to consider when developing a commercial property, it also helps you to understand what are the things you need such as safety, security and connectivity and what might be things that are wants or future considerations such as building optimisation or environmental impact. This allows you to meet the current needs or prospective tenants as well as ensuring the infrastructure is in place to develop commercial spaces to meet the needs of tomorrow.
Choosing the right partner
Choosing a partner when considering all of this is vitally important, making sure it’s someone you can trust to give you the right ideas and also the experience to support on projects such as this can often be the difference between a successful or unsuccessful project.
Make sure you are clear on the requirements you have for a partner and what you expect them to do. For example if you need a partner who can provide an end-to-end solution (which we recommend from experience) from design through to installation, make sure they can deliver on that promise.
At Connexin, we’ve been involved in lots of commercial projects like this and are a leading provider of enterprise end-to-end IoT solutions too, working in both the public and private sectors. This experience across both disciplines allows us to support businesses not only looking at state-of-the-art solutions for now but also how to support the tenants of the future.
If you’re interested in our commercial solutions or IoT capabilities, please get in touch with our team, even if you just want to ask some initial questions and gather some insight. We’re more than happy to support you where you require and add value in the areas that matter to you.
Feel free to reach out using the chat in the bottom right corner.