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JLL survey: Smart buildings help CREs plug in

Buildings that anticipate and respond automatically to employee needs may have once seemed like a fantasy, but they are rapidly becoming the norm. Businesses are realizing significant benefits from sensors, custom apps, automation systems and the treasure trove of data supplied by smart technology. In fact, a new survey conducted by JLL and CoreNet Global finds two-thirds of executives believe smart building solutions are critical for the future of their real estate portfolios. Consistent with the finding, 34 percent of executives report they are currently implementing a smart building solution and 47 say they will be ready to do so within the next five years.

What's driving nterest in smart buildings?

When asked about the business drivers for implementing smart building solutions, approximately three-quarters of respondents cited a myriad of reasons. Their drivers ranged from improved workspace, employee experience, corporate energy and sustainability goals, to optimized building efficiency and cost savings.

Beyond these primary factors, executives see many additional benefits of smart buildings. Not surprisingly, energy savings topped the list, with 93 percent of executives checking it off as a benefit. Optimized building efficiency came in second at 87 percent. These quantitative metrics are perhaps the most obvious benefits of smart buildings, but encouragingly, the survey showed human capital-related metrics are also making it into the business case for smart buildings. Executives gave high rankings to less tangible benefits such as improved workspace (86 percent), employee satisfaction (85%) and employee productivity (82%), indicating that businesses are embracing the idea that the workplace environment has a direct impact on the people who work there.

Consensus: Technology impacts productivity

In a resounding consensus, 97 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed workplace environment plays a critical role in employee productivity, and the same number agreed or strongly agreed building technology can have a significant impact on the happiness of employees. Organizations should provide work environments that enforce human-to-human contact. For example, using third spaces to bring people together, create work around clusters for teams, break down visual barriers, maximize space for collaborative work, and encourage teamwork.

The survey results point to overwhelming support for smart buildings, but some obstacles remain – the perceived cost. While executives seem to recognize that smart building solutions pay off in the long term, the upfront expense is holding some back. In fact, 43 percent of respondents said smart buildings are too expensive to implement as the biggest obstacle to making a smart building strategy a reality.

Based on these findings, it appears clear that those organizations that embrace new workplace technology will not only gain financial savings through lowered energy costs and increased productivity, but will also create a happier work environment and position themselves to win the war for talent.

The future is here – is your building ready?