Three metrics to track
the efficiency of your
life sciences space

What indicators are valuable for employee experience, productivity and future success?

As the world slowly begins to return to a sense of post-pandemic normalcy, the life sciences industry has rapidly progressed at a breakneck pace. The first two months of 2021 have already realized seventeen biotech initial public offerings (IPOs) generating $2.9 billion in proceeds, with no end in sight to industry financial investments. Many life sciences leaders are wondering what’s next and how current decision-making can influence long-term success. As technology and digitization reach new heights, it’s even more imperative to have strong data and business intelligence (BI) practices – with real estate at the forefront.

For years, real estate professionals have relied on typical data points to analyze space. Standard information on square footage, floor load capacity, column spans, filtration and ventilation, and even proximity to other research institutions were woven into the appeal to life science occupiers and investors. Now, adapting to include new reporting methods and insights, the commercial real estate industry is transitioning to feature new technologies and metrics to better inform decision-makers.

We predict that nearly 70 percent of real estate metrics that are adopted in the next three years will be non-traditional. While technology and digitization will continue to evolve, here are three insightful metrics that track the efficiency and productivity of your life science space:

1. Occupancy and vacancy statistics

For tenants, occupancy and vacancy levels are the one of the highest priority metrics according to those surveyed in JLL’s Occupancy Benchmarking Guide.

Occupancy planning statistics help research and development (R&D) users better understand what spaces, such as individual workstations, lab rooms and collaboration spaces, are being assigned or not. These metrics enable occupiers to better project vacancy rates and set structural vacancy targets.

With a deep understanding of occupancy and vacancy statistics, tenants can seek creative ways to optimize their space. With ever-changing R&D needs, workspaces that are flexible and adaptable better set users up for success. Such flexible features might include:

  • Electrical cords on retractable coils
  • Arranging technical infrastructure behind a façade to open up space
  • Thick floor slabs in corridors so heavy equipment can be moved without damaging the floor
2. Utilization levels

As important as occupancy and vacancy statistics, utilization levels look at how employees engage with and leverage the space they have. Research has shown that utilization can be tied to employee satisfaction, retention and efficiency.

Over the past three years, users that have reported gathering utilization data has risen from 54 percent to 62 percent, according to JLL Research. So, what does this mean? Users have a growing desire to understand the usage of different space throughout their facilities, not simply keep track of its assigned programming.

Utilization levels can be especially helpful in pursuing workspace strategies for life science users. For example, tenants have opted to relocate administrative spaces to back-office areas to free up square footage for research and development.

As additional employees return to the workplace, you can measure real-time utilization of personnel and rotation shifts. This is a quick way to maximize use and understand what safety measures are working and what changes need to be made. If you prefer data on specific space, workstations or rooms and you can invest monetarily, install occupancy sensors to make data-driven decisions about workplace layouts. Applying tried-and-true technology to this new scenario will provide quicker time-to-value, including the insights to re-stack office layouts and monitor occupancy to a new health and safety standard.

3. Density

One common approach to maximizing efficiency throughout facilities is to consolidate real estate and increase density. But in light of COVID-19 and changing trends, users need to proceed cautiously as ideal density and workplace health and safety require a careful balancing act.

While life sciences companies have been at the forefront in health and safety measures, density metrics are poised to be key performance indicators of efficient and well-optimized spaces in the coming years. Density data can help guide holistic decision making, enabling tenants to devise floorplan layouts, strategize talent initiatives and ensure proper safety and social distancing requirements are met.

A peek at future technology: What’s next for life sciences real estate?

Expect to see investors focus on insights regarding the proximity of R&D, manufacturing space and distribution centers.

Cell and gene therapies focused on oncology and rare diseases are anticipated to continue to be the focus for life sciences, and manufacturing will be the key differentiator.

The need for efficient life science manufacturing is rapidly increasing and superb manufacturing operations management (MOM) is the focus. MOM is defined as the methodology for viewing an end-to-end manufacturing process with a view to optimize efficiency, meaning investors will be seeking out space with in-house or nearby manufacturing space.

Look for tech-enabled facilities to support AI-powered technologies.

MIT Technology Review said it best: “Artificial intelligence (AI) is reinventing the way we invent.” It has the power to drastically reduce costs associated with R&D and free up funds to spend elsewhere.

AI startups are specifically working on repurposing existing drugs and generating new drug candidates using AI, machine learning and automation. In addition to seeking space for R&D, expect to see occupiers looking for options that also support AI brainstorming and development.

As more and more findings are discovered over time, new technologies and metrics will take hold of the life sciences industry to influence how investors view what’s viable real estate or not.

Seek modern analytics and tools from your real estate partners.

Commercial real estate providers that have access to modern research and analytical tools will position life science tenants for success in coming years.

JLL offers in-house capabilities that include:

  • Needs Assessment tool to help organizations quickly and easily define their space criteria and priorities (such as head cost, workstyle and most-needed amenities) to match with the market.
  • Market availability evaluations that enable an organization to match with available buildings and space in any metro market within minutes. We can provide detailed building information related to growth and available space, and create customizable reports for distribution to align all key stakeholders around a path forward.
  • Market visualization platform that enables JLL to show clients properties across the country and share a complete view of the location without ever arriving onsite. It also lets users layer-in important, localized factors such as future tax incentives, proximity to public transit, average rental rates, nearby cafes and planned construction nearby.

For more information on the changing real estate landscape and how your real estate strategy can reduce costs and fuel R&D, download our free guide.