Five Trends in Commercial Real Estate
The commercial real estate (CRE) industry is ever-evolving with new technologies, regulations, and workplace issues all influencing change. Here is an overview of five CRE trends that we believe strongly impact the market. Smart lighting plays a vital role in each.
1. Focus on People
Organizations today realize that the health and well-being of employees, their most important asset, can extensively impact organizational productivity, performance, and the bottom line.
Companies are putting more of a focus on their people than ever before.
A significant part of that attention is on the environment where employees perform their work. They are developing a variety of spaces and places to promote movement throughout the day to increase wellness, creativity, collaboration, and productivity.
Areas that bring nature and the outdoors in with lighting and natural textures are popular as are utilizing pops of color to boost happiness, productivity, and creativity. Workspaces now incorporate more stairs and height-adjustable desks and tables to discourage all day sitting. Human-centric lighting applications designed to mimic the Earth’s natural lighting cycle are being used to improve the productivity of workers that spend much of their day inside, deprived of access to natural daylight.
The widely embraced green building movement emphasizes improving occupant health and well-being. The U.S. Green Building Council has created the WELL Building Standard®, a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.
2. Dynamic, Adaptable Spaces
Gone are standard office spaces with rows of cubicles and hallways of offices that once dominated big business. Dynamic, adaptable spaces are replacing them. Today’s agile and nimble organizations demand workspaces that can adapt and change as needed to support organization and employee needs. Many offices have multipurpose workspaces that can be used for anything from small meetings to multimedia presentations.
Community spaces that encourage staff interaction and collaboration are also in vogue.
Re-stacking takes a fresh look at existing office space as a whole and adjusts the use of that space to better reflect and support the organization’s objectives. As a business undergoes change, such as a new product direction, industry focus, or increase/decrease in staffing level, it is an opportunity to redesign and refurbish the space to reflect and support the organization’s new objectives. A re-stack can better mirror the flow of the organization, physically placing teams that continually interact with each other together. If a business seeks to drive better collaboration, they may create more ‘we’ spaces than ‘me’ spaces so that teams work in more of a co-creation atmosphere. Restacking often incorporates technology upgrades such as connected lighting, security systems, and HVAC to realize Smart Building benefits.
3. Support Mobile and Remote Workers
The gig economy, the incessant creation of new startups and the global movement towards a mobile workforce, has created a need for a new type of office space. Co-working involves individuals, typically from different organizations, sharing a workplace. Their activities are independent, but they value working alongside other people as part of a community, instead of toiling in isolation.
Co-working locations are now available in many metro areas, and their clientele is a mix of startups, mobile workers, and established corporations. Co-working space offers startups the ability to stay lean in an atmosphere that inspires productivity. Established companies that require additional temporary space or have mobile workers that need local office space find the co-working space option meets their needs. And, big business has embraced co-working space, citing the desire to function like an innovative startup and flatten hierarchies. The best co-working office spaces provide a variety of functional areas to work and mingle, with task lights and ambient white noise generators to keep distraction at bay.
While many workers are jumping into co-working locations, others find working remotely to be a better fit. Working remotely has significant benefits for many workers such as increasing productivity and efficiency, lowering stress and boosting morale, reducing employee turnover, decreasing real estate costs and overhead, leading to higher employee engagement, positively impacting the environment and helping meet the demands of younger workers.
Remote working has broad implications for the workforce and is no longer restricted to a home-based office solution. For example, a growing number of US and European young professionals are leveraging mobile technology to work remotely and live a nomadic lifestyle. On the other hand, the flexibility provided by working remote is keeping older workers in the workforce longer.
Working remote is a global phenomenon and considered the future of work.
Corporate headquarters of remote workers must offer options for the staff on in-office days including unassigned or touchdown spaces. Hoteling, a practice in which none of the firm's employees have a permanent or assigned workspace and instead have desks, cubicles or office spaces that are shared between employees when they need them, has become the new normal.
4. Green Design
The global green building movement continues to gain steam as more and more buildings achieve LEED or Green Building Certification status. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, “Over 40,000 commercial and institutional projects representing more than 6.5 billion square feet of space have been LEED-certified to date worldwide, with another 51,000 projects representing 13 billion square feet in the pipeline for certification.”
Green buildings are not only better for the environment but healthier for the people who work within them.
Incorporating natural lighting and improving air quality positively affects tenants as well as helps with LEED or Green Building Certification. Research suggests that working in green buildings can improve productivity, job performance, and overall well-being. For example, according to a report from Rocky Mountain Institute, Google, who emphasizes health, user experience, and sustainability throughout the lifecycle of its real estate, has found that energy efficiency measures including improving thermal comfort and indoor air quality, as well as increasing exposure to natural light, have had a positive impact on worker’s health and productivity.
5. Upgrading Technology Infrastructure for Smart Building and IOT Applications
The importance of a building infrastructure that leverages the latest technologies cannot be overemphasized. Think of the infrastructure as the critical enabler of the latest CRE trends—a workspace that focuses on occupant needs and preferences, adapts dynamically to change, supports a mobile workforce, and meets green building requirements. These newer smart building and IOT applications require a cutting-edge technology infrastructure.
Connectivity is key.
The modern workforce, often millennial-centric, requires high levels of connectivity and the latest technologies for their social, collaborative work style. They need constant access to the cloud to share information wherever they are. Consequently, to be competitive, facility managers must ensure technology is up to date and flexible enough to meet their requirements.
In addition, IoT applications are transforming the way buildings operate and are responsible for reducing energy consumption, administration and maintenance costs, and offer the opportunity for service differentiation and new revenue streams. Data collected from sensors in HVAC, lighting, security, and other building systems provide feedback in real time on performance, enabling cost savings and operational efficiency.
According to Gartner Inc., “Especially in large sites, such as industrial zones, office parks, shopping malls, airports or seaports, IoT can help reduce the cost of energy, spatial management, and building maintenance by up to 30 percent.”
Research from the Deloitte University Press reports that “the predictive capabilities and on-going monitoring functionality of IoT-enabled buildings will enable building management to preempt repairs or maintenance issues by taking fitting corrective action before tenants even notice a problem.”
Furthermore, with the cost of sensors, data storage, and connectivity all falling, it is expected that more and more CRE firms will move forward in adopting IoT applications.