A Smart Business Office Ecosystem Is More Than Just A Space

Amit Grover, Director - Office Business, DLFAmit is a seasoned commercial real estate professional with over 22 years of experience in real estate industry. He is instrumental in the entire cycle of market & financial feasibility, land acquisitions, project planning and monetization of commercial real estate at DLF

Crowth & maturity of the Indian economy today is reflecting in the growth of metro cities, stronger domestic demand, consistent FDI, and the changing consumer & user behaviour driven by digital innovations and benefits of shared economy and overall enhancement of customer experience. The smart office today is a reflection of the socioeconomic uptrend at an international & national level. What is happening to our economy and companies globally will get reflected to what is happening to the offices ecosystem as well. The reason why corporates buy or rent offices or buildings is to be in sync with their business objectives like creating a brand, enhancing employee, and organizational productivity by driving innovation, collaboration and at times a cultural & behavioural change at work.

Understanding the Confluence of Emerging Business & Human Needs at Smart Work-places
Today, the whole workplace eco-system is getting aligned to both the emerging business needs and human needs. The business needs are driving the need for agility and scalability of the workforce, and off-balance sheet models of rentalized fully fitted-out and fully serviced properties, while the human needs are driving how we commute to work, what are the amenities at work, how do we collaborate at work, what is the air quality we breathe at work, how do we lever-age the new-age technologies like IoT, smart apps, sensors, beacons, AI and analytics to access the building facilities, and many others, and how are the new-age buildings connecting with the society at large. A smart building is not only about a smart space. It is about a smart solution which is intelligent, safe, sustainable, and contributes to employee well-being.

Today, the intelligent building management systems and sensors are able to smartly collate and analyse every data point of consumption and capacity like electricity, power, water consumption & recycling, parking, and so on into
common dashboards, and AI is driving automation for some of the operation decisions, which were earlier done manually. In the coming future, AI can transform the user experience and take it to the next level. For example, a CCTV camera can differentiate between a visitor or a user of the building via face recognition system and welcomes or pre-authorizes the access to the designated floors without any human interaction. Similarly, the same camera can report any suspicious activity to the nearest police station.

In recent times, more and more organisations are taking the well-being of their employees a lot more seriously. Research shows that 45 percent of the total value of the hiring of space to an organization comes from employee productivity and retention. Employees spend over 45-50 hours at work each week, which is over 70-80 percent of their awake time during week-days. Smarter buildings are opting for well-being certifications which are driven by standardized ratings on internal air quality, contribution to employee health via availability of gym, yoga, medical camps, improving mental and emotional health of employees, which also reduce over-all sick days.

A smart building is not only about a smart space. It is about a smart solution which is intelligent, safe, sustainable and contributes to employee well-being

Understanding the Trends in Workplace Demands
Across metro cities, there is a trend of companies moving from older stand-alone buildings to campus style new-age workspaces, which can offer smart elements of the workplace ecosystem and amenities. Also, there is a trend of flexible or co-working spaces, which are taken on lease along with the conventional office leases. Some of the companies are also securing direct & indirect tax benefits under the SEZ clause before the sunset clause of SEZ in March 2020.

The growth of IT-driven space requirement is reducing some bit due to AI implementation and optimization of workplace usage. At the same time, the digital & e-Commerce industry has generated huge opportunities for office space development and absorption, and new segment of outsourcing companies and banking, engineering design, labs biotech, pharma, insurance are expanding their global back office operations. Likewise, the office interiors are also bringing freshness, vibrant colours, open ceiling offices and at times industrial & contemporary outlook to an office.

The Location Advantage of Smart Offices Ecosystem
Increasingly, commuting to the building is being planned with more sustainable transport systems with low carbon emission, and thus less stress on the city infrastructure and environment at large. Also, shorter distances to work from home con-tribute to lesser employee fatigue due to commuting. Therefore, location of the building closer to metro stations or in closer proximity to metro stations so that they can be connected via shuttle services becomes very important. Gradually, as a trend, commute to work will also shift to shared transports like Uber/Ola and there will be a reduction in employees getting their own cars to work.

In Cybercity Gurgaon, the rapid metro connects all office buildings at a walking distance from the metro. In Cybercity Chennai and Hyderabad, our developments are about 3-4 km from the metro, and thus we operate shuttle services to the metro station. In addition, proximity to residential areas is equally important for employees coming directly from home by their own transport. This also helps companies to keep their cost of transport low.