Do smarter buildings make employees happier?

Investing in new technologies can produce longer-term results in employee productivity

Buildings are getting smarter. Does that mean employees are getting happier? Quite possibly. A recent JLL and CoreNet Global survey found that 85 percent of executives believe smart building solutions can directly benefit employee satisfaction and similarly impact productivity.

Think about some of the most common workplace irritations:

  • Work areas that are too hot or too cold
  • Technology issues with presentations or conference calls
  • Battles over conference room space

Employee happiness is dramatically influenced by the level of control employees have over their work environment: from technology to comfortable working space to higher-level decision making. Employees are more engaged to give their best at work when they feel supported and empowered to make decisions, according to a study of U.S. companies with the best cultures.

Increasingly, employees are becoming accustomed to tapping into technology to personalize and control their environment everywhere they go. They map out the quickest route to work, and expertly use apps to control temperatures and sprinkler systems at home while they’re away. It’s natural for these expectations to carry through to the workplace. Smart buildings and the Internet of things (IoT) are enabling employees to have an equally personalized experience at work: using mobile phones to reserve a workstation for the day, walking into rooms that adjust the temperature to their liking, visiting coffee stations that automatically prepare their favorite brew, or connecting wirelessly to a nearby whiteboard to share a presentation.

Technology is part of the solution

Smart buildings and IoT aren’t going to magically make employees happy on their own. But they help set the right backdrop for a productive work environment and reinforce important cultural values that can lead to increased happiness. For example, smart building technologies fine-tune factors such as air quality and lighting levels that support an organization’s sustainability efforts, which employees are more tuned into today. Research by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte shows that employees prefer working for companies that are embracing a more digitized future.

Next generation workplace technologies will further advance employees’ ability to customize their work environment.

The evidence exists to make the business case for investing in smart technologies. We found that a strategic retrofit of an older building with modern systems and a smart building management platform can pay for itself in less than two years. And at the same time, it produces longer-term benefits in employee productivity.

Next generation workplace technologies will further advance employees’ ability to customize their work environment. Instead of being a novelty, this personalization will soon become the norm. And retaining and attracting good talent will depend on it.

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