With many uncertainties still plaguing the commercial real estate market, making better investment decisions is essential to success. And after 2020, one of the top concerns for any building owner, business manager, or property investor is safety.
Because the pandemic heightened everyone’s awareness of safety, especially in the workplace, commercial real estate investors should look to technology solutions that give tenants more peace of mind, as well as create smarter, more adaptable buildings.
As businesses around the world continue to pivot in the “new normal,” technology has become a key factor in being able to safely reopen, as well as keep buildings secure while adjusting to reduced occupancy, social distancing, and remote workforce needs.
And amidst all of these necessary adjustments, there are still concerns over mitigating physical and cybersecurity risks. When assessing commercial real estate properties in 2021, these are the top three security and safety technologies that will future-proof buildings for better ROI.
1. Building system automation
Just like smart home devices, smart commercial building technology does more with less investment. With more IoT-connected devices and platforms now available for commercial buildings, there’s an opportunity for landlords to automate many of their day-to-day operations through integrations.
Always running the most advanced software and features is a huge leg-up when it comes to dealing with changes in the world, as the technology adapts in near-real-time. Plus, many of these technologies are hosted in the cloud, enabling full remote access and management.
As an example of how powerful an automated building system can be, consider a large, multi-tenant corporate property. When a contractor arrives at the building early in the morning and attempts to open the door without a credential, the building manager receives an alert from the access control system. If integrated with video surveillance, the manager can confirm who is at the door, and text a guest pass to the contractor, all without ever leaving the house.
Plus, the entire interaction is tracked and recorded for auditing purposes. Similarly, automated processes (such as lighting and AC) based on who is at the building, when they’re there, and which spaces they use can create more efficient, sustainable buildings.
Automated building systems are also great for improving awareness and optimizing space. For landlords, having data insights ingested into business intelligence tools can help inform lease negotiations and how to best containerize their space based on usage.
Pulling in data from connected access control systems, space management tools, smart HVAC and lighting systems, and tenant management platforms, landlords can proactively manage their space and investments. When so many property owners are looking for ways to reduce operating costs in the short term, connected building systems and automation can actually help future-proof that ROI.
2. Touchless experiences
Touchless technology went from a “nice to have” to “mandatory” almost overnight in 2020. Now, it’s a technology that CRE tenants look for when considering properties. Being able to unlock the door and use the elevators without touching common buttons, handles, or keypads gives people instant peace of mind that their workplace is safer.
If touchless entry and contactless elevators seem like something worth skimming over to save a few bucks in the short term, hold the phone. Touchless tech, especially mobile-based solutions, is likely to stick around. One reason is that with a mobile credential built into people’s smartphones, there’s no need to worry about ID badges or fobs.
That’s one less thing to have to remember when leaving the house, and less in-person management required for office operations. Plus, smartphones have many additional security features already built-in (like two-factor authentication, biometrics, and encryption), so it’s one less thing landlords have to budget for. And never underestimate the value of convenience. It has a lasting impact on building experiences even after the pandemic fears are over.
3. Occupancy tracking
Occupancy is a top concern for people going back to work. With the pandemic still, a major factor in how workplaces will operate throughout 2021, being able to track and limit the number of people at the building is essential to making people feel safe returning to their buildings.
In order to accommodate these adjustments, many businesses are turning to flexible work environments, partially remote employees, and staggered scheduling. However, nobody wants to sacrifice security for the sake of flexibility.
Tools like people counters, density sensors, and access control can automate and enforce these protocols while maintaining the high-level security expected at commercial properties. These technology investments give property owners a clear picture of occupancy across their buildings and portfolios, and when integrated, are an integral piece of tracking occupancy to maintain safety.
By utilizing tenant management platforms, property owners can require people to pre-register for access through a convenient digital portal, and include safety tools like health questionnaires. When integrated with access control systems, only those with pre-approved registration can gain access to the building.
With a smart access control system and integrated people counters, landlords and business owners can also set capacity limits on certain spaces to automatically prevent people from credentialing in once full. This is a useful tool to prevent people from congregating in shared spaces such as meeting rooms, cafeterias, and lounges. Plus, with remote access to real-time occupancy data, building managers are able to mitigate risk and respond quickly as incidents occur, without adding to headcount at the building.
While extremely useful in the present environment, occupancy tracking technology is also a future-proof investment worth having in place even after social distancing guidelines begin to relax. Remote access to occupancy data is key for CRE landlords and property owners to understand how to optimize the building, without having to be there.
Occupancy tracking data gives a better picture of usage throughout the building, not just at the doors. By understanding how different tenants utilize parking garages, elevators, and building amenities, as well as their leased office spaces, CRE investors can proactively manage their space, rather than taking a reactive approach.
For example, certain amenity spaces, like cafeterias, gyms, event spaces, and conference rooms, maybe more profitable as additional office space, or maybe they need to be larger to accommodate additional incoming tenants. Occupancy data can also be a good indicator of which tenants are growing, and which are scaling back, informing the best time to negotiate lease agreements and re-containerize the space.
Armed with more granular analysis through business intelligence tools, property owners have the ability to improve space management, increase ROI, and improve the tenant experience at their buildings.
Security is vital
Keeping spaces secure, without sacrificing convenience and flexibility is essential today, and will likely remain a top priority for tenants even post-pandemic. People will always want their workplace experiences to be as frictionless as possible.
With adaptable safety and security platforms, CRE investors will get best-in-class solutions and features, without having to constantly shell out for expensive software upgrades or purchase new technologies for their properties, prolonging the life of investment for better ROI. Smart technology means buildings are more adaptable and appeal to a wider range of top-tier tenants now and in the future.