Companies Value Tech-Enabled Office Refurbishments

As well as a drive towards sustainable office space and office refurbishments a survey of over 1,000 decision makers including landlords, developers, real estate investors and occupiers based in the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Singapore by research by JLL, a leading global commercial real estate and investment management company, has shown that 91% of those who responded would pay a premium for office refurbishments which were tech-enabled. The survey also found that 85% of companies had plans to increase the level of technology within their office space in the next few years.

Tech-Enabled Offices

The JJL survey found that tech sustainability tools accounted for the largest share of business budgets with 45% planning to adopt energy/emissions management technology in the coming year, with a 14% increase of the adoption of data and modelling tools used to analyse energy use, management, infrastructure and occupancy from 2022-2023.

Additionally, the survey showed that tech priorities also included the facilitating of in-office collaboration tools, with an adoption rate increase from 40% to 50%, making office collaboration tools the top office tech currently in place.

Health and wellbeing tech solutions rose from 25% to 48% showing that companies are embracing employee wellness in the workplace. Tools and platforms that enable businesses to gain insights and help predict issues or problems were listed as tech requirements in 47% and 43% of businesses respectively. Immersive workplace technology such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality were also one of the top five technologies businesses planned to adopt alongside artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI (GenAI).

Susheel Koul, Chief Executive Officer, Work Dynamics, JLL said “Organisations across the globe acknowledge that technology plays a critical role in navigating disruptive challenges, driving transformation and enabling agility. While the immediate focus remains on technology to support hybrid work and attract and retain talent, occupiers will prioritise solutions to increase revenue, improve sustainability metrics and improve business decision-making in the next three years.”

Vivek Satpathi, Head of Client Growth, JLL Satpathi explains further “To harness the opportunity [of technology], we recommend that organisations start by shaping an actionable technology strategy, which can translate into a strong operating model with the right resources, people and organisational structure in place.”

Business Benefits

Companies know that tech-enabled office refurbishments will provide them with a competitive advantage hence the drive towards incorporating technology into the office space and why many companies list technology as being their future highest investment when compared to recruitment and operating budget.

Office technology not only gives companies a competitive advantage it can also play an important role in staff retention and recruitment, communication, productivity, customer service and ROI.

Staff Retention and Recruitment

According to a 2023 Yooz survey “worker frustrations over low-tech employers can lead them to look for a new job — or even a new industry.”

A Forbes article “Technology Is Key To Employee Retention” states that “it shouldn’t be a surprise that a key to employee retention lies in technology itself, and it starts at the source.”  It goes onto say that “employees are demanding flexibility and autonomy with their work, and the right technological structure will make or break an employee’s experience from the start.”

Recruitive believes that “Technology Can Help Small Businesses Hire and Retain Top Talent Effectively in 2023” and that the solution maybe in utilising technology in recruiting, onboarding new staff and in management processes. By looking at a variety of factors which cause employees to leave e.g., rigid workplace schedules, a lack of potential growth paths and inefficient and ineffective work processes that are time consuming and unnecessarily complex and implementing the right tech which can help employees to do their work and recognise and reward them “can [help small businesses] level the playing field, attract top-quality workers, and set a baseline for future long-term retention programs.”

Communication

Good communication is key to business success. Businesses need to be able to communicate effectively internally and with customers, contractors, suppliers, partners, stakeholders and authorities. Communication impacts every aspect of a business and with the introduction of flexible and agile working, working on the go and mobile devices, effective communication is even more critical than ever.

Provoke Media found the “cumulative cost per worker per year due to productivity losses resulting from communications barriers is $26,041.”

EduMe state that “28% of employees cit[e] poor communication as the reason for not being able to deliver work on time.” They go onto say that “many still rely on outdated communication methods which prevent the free flow of information and leave employees feeling frustrated and isolated. Companies who do lean on new technology to improve their communications – whether by introducing an internal comms tool or leveraging push notifications to grab peoples’ attention.”  

Productivity

By utilising technology businesses are able to increase productivity and efficiency within the workplace. Tasks that are manual, repetitive and time consuming can be automated through the use of systems and apps. Given that many workers spend at least 25% of their time carrying out repetitive work such as entering data, employing automated technology to do these repetitive tasks can free up staff’s time allowing them to concentrate on more important tasks which have a better ROI.  

Automating tasks can also reduce employee errors and improve the accuracy of any work done and any data generated.

Customer Engagement

From providing marketing opportunities to customer service, technology can provide the perfect platforms between a business and its customers. From utilising search engines to provide information on what “keywords” customers are searching for, to where to place adds that will be seen, to answering customer questions and providing support through chat facilities and email, technology can help to engage with customers.

Maintaining good customer service is a business priority however many employees find that poor or outdated technology can get in the way of good customer service. Being unable to find the information required to help customers can also hamper customer support. On the other hand, technology that’s accurate and agile can dramatically improve customer service and customer satisfaction.

Return On Investment

By improving efficiency, productivity and reducing errors as a result of using technology businesses can improve their return on investment.

VMWare’s “The Impact of a digitally empowered workforce” key findings were that businesses that provide the apps their employees need found that “empowered” employees spend 17% less time on manual tasks while increasing team collaboration and decision making by 16%. Employees were also 5 times more likely to have increased productivity. As a consequence, 87% of CIOs surveyed believe digitally empowering their employees can drive at least 5% additional revenue growth over 3 years.

Accenture found that companies who embraced technology lead the pack in revenue growth, were 2.7 times more likely to have experienced over 20% growth over the past 3 years and were 5.4 times more likely to still be projecting over 20% revenue growth in the next three years.

What Technology Solutions Would Add Most Value To Your Office Refurbishment?

We know that technology can add value to an office space. So what are the tech solutions that businesses can most benefit from and add most value to their next office refurbishment?

Security

Securing your building or office space is important in protecting your business and employees. Controlling who has access to your offices can be done through a variety of measures including electronic access control systems using passes or biometric systems which utilise fingerprint or facial recognition. Security systems can allow for different security levels e.g. site visitors can access areas open to the public, contractors can be issued with passes that have been programmed for certain areas and employees can have all area or restricted area passes. A reception area can also provide an extra level of security allowing all visitors to be greeted and checked before they proceed further into the building or onwards to an office.

Having a security system can streamline entry to a building or office and provide information on who is in the office and who has accessed different areas of the building.

Sustainability

In the move towards net zero and in efforts to decrease energy consumption the use of sustainability technologies has increased.

By incorporating smart technology through the use of motion or ‘occupancy’ sensors you can determine when a room or building is in use. This can then be linked to a control panel or centre which can turn off lights when they are not required. Light sensors can also be used to detect when daylight is present to turn down or turn off lights as needed. Lighting systems that can adapt to the time of day or the task being performed can also play an important role in enabling staff to perform at their best while maintaining efficiency and saving energy.

As well as lighting, temperature can also be controlled to ensure that the system uses the minimum energy to achieve the maximum performance. Ensuring the right temperatures are set can make a difference when it comes to the amount of energy used. Reducing room temperatures by just 1°C can reduce costs by up to 10%.

When rooms are unoccupied, they may not need to be kept at the same temperatures required when people are present. Automatic doors (and windows) can also be closed through sensors or remotely to help maintain room temperatures.

Energy monitoring sensors or smart meters can help to track and control where energy is being used and to highlight where unusually high energy is being drawn by equipment which may be a sign of issues or potential faults or imminent failure.

Desk and Meeting Room Management

Streamlining work processes is vital to every business. Making sure that the right tools are available to staff at the right time will improve efficiency and allow staff to work effectively without delay or disruption.

Where hot desking is in operation a booking system can provide employees with the ability to book out a desk in advance ensuring a workspace is available upon their arrival, saving them time from having to hunt for an available desk. If desks are available in different work areas employees can choose their desk according to their needs and preferences. A desk booking system also allows a business to make better use of its space, manage resources, track real-time usage, and make informed changes to desk availability e.g. if one area is heavily booked out and another area is mostly unused the business can look at increasing the number of desks in the popular area or making changes to the underused area.

This type of system can also be applied to meeting rooms or any other available workspace. By employing a meeting room booking system employees can book out a suitable meeting time and come together without having to worry about whether space will be available when it comes time to meet. It also allows for efficient use and management of meeting rooms and other meeting spaces.

Connectivity

A bad internet connection is a deal breaker for companies and one of the main reasons businesses leave commercial spaces. Ensuring your office space has good connectivity with both excellent upload and download speeds is vital to keeping your business connected. From being able to access the internet, store documents in the cloud and send email to communicate with clients, contractors and employees, a reliable and fast internet is an essential service.

As well as access to superfast internet its important that employees can also connect via Wi-Fi and that the system has the capacity to connect as many devices as needed without there being a drop in performance or speed. Having wireless charging stations or points integrated into office furniture and available throughout the office will allow staff to keep their devices charged and ready to use without having to hunt around for charging cables, plugs and outlets. This will also cut down on the clutter of having to store cables.

Remote Working

With the increase in remote working comes with it the need for good technology tools that can facilitate connectivity and work processes both within the office and outside of the office. Ensuring your office refurbishment is geared towards hybrid and remote working means ensuring the right facilities and tech stack are designed into the workspace. To this end telephone or video conferencing is a must. Being able to connect remote workers with their office and colleagues where they can speak to or see each other is vital in enabling on-going communication and meetings where everyone can come together. The use of smart video 360° conference cameras that allow workers to see each other can also help to make remote workers feel as if they’re in the meeting room with their in-office co-workers.

It’s important to have reliable equipment to avoid the frustration of problems connecting, broken connections, buffering or poor-quality audio or video.

Collaborative Working

Whether its in-office or remote collaboration, technology can play an important role in the workspace. Technologies such as video conferencing which make it easier for staff to work together seamlessly no matter where they are is key. Other technologies that promote collaborative working such as interactive whiteboards are now common place in refurbished offices.

Incorporating formal or informal breakout areas such as meeting rooms, pods, tea points, kitchens and other meeting spaces into your office design which offer the appropriate technology and connectivity which can allow people to get together, to meet and to collaborate as well as breakaway from the office desk are also vital.

Health and Wellbeing

Staff are an important aspect of any business. Without staff there is no business. Richard Branson is famously quoted as saying ‘Learn to look after your staff first and the rest will follow’. As a consequence, health and wellbeing plays an essential role when it comes to office refurbishments and technology is a vital part of enabling and promoting health and wellbeing within a business.

The Get Britain Standing website shows that people, on average, spend 8.9 hours each day sitting in the office. Research shows that sitting for longer than 4 hours a day can lead to: enzymes responsible for burning harmful blood fats shit down, reduced metabolism, disrupted sugar levels and increased insulin and blood pressure levels which in turn leads to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, depression as well as back pain and muscular problems.

The World Health Organization states that “Physical inactivity is one of the leading risk factors for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and death worldwide. It increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes by 20–30%. It is estimated that four to five million deaths per year could be averted if the global population was more active.” They go onto say that “Physical inactivity burdens society through the hidden and growing cost of medical care and loss of productivity. Estimates from 2016 show that physical inactivity cost the health system $54 billion and resulted in $14 billion in economic losses. Estimates indicate that between 1–3% of national health care expenditures are attributable to physical inactivity.”

The UK government found that that “Physical inactivity is associated with 1 in 6 deaths in the UK and is estimated to cost the UK £7.4 billion annually (including £0.9 billion to the NHS alone). Unfortunately, our population is around 20% less active than in the 1960s. If current trends continue, it will be 35% less active by 2030.”

Offering flexible working and the ability to move around the office can help improve productivity as office staff aren’t “chained” to a desk and can work from multiple locations, including working remotely, on the move or from home. In order to achieve this office layouts and connectivity need to allow staff to work seamlessly and need to include environments and systems that are configured for mobile devices.

Office furniture can also play a vital role in office health and wellbeing through encouraging people to sit less at work. This includes standing desks also known as adjustable or sit stand desks which allow you to choose to sit or stand comfortably while working in the office. They can be adjusted manually or automatically. Some stand desks even come with the ability to program in set desk heights which can be used to adjust the desk height at the touch of a button. Ergonomic furniture with built-in health sensors can encourage staff to maintain good posture when sitting down and to stand up and stay active at set periods to prevent inactivity. Data collected can also be used to make changes and optimise furniture for future use.

Open-plan offices are popular, but they can be noisy. By incorporating audio systems and acoustic solutions which provide noise cancelling technology you can reduce distractions and provide employees with privacy creating quiet areas where staff can work or take a break thereby promoting staff health and wellbeing.

It’s clear technology can play an important role in office refurbishments and provide many benefits however technology needs to be implemented for the right reasons. If you are planning your next office refurbishment consider what technology you need and what will provide the best benefits for you and your staff.

JBH Refurbishments, Experts In Office Design and Refurbishment

JBH Refurbishments have over 30+ years’ experience in office design, office refurbishment and fit outs. We can advise on all aspects of your Kent or London office refurbishment including how to best incorporate technology in your office design and refurbishment. To find out how we can help you contact us via our contact form or by calling us on 0333 207 0339.


Know How

Overcoming Office Design Challenges Across Kent and London

Kent and London office space need office design to get the most out of the available space and balance business objectives and staff needs.

London Office Refurbishments Continue To Power The London Office Market

The Deloitte Summer 2024 Edition of the London Office Crane Survey finds developers are turning to refurbishments over new builds.