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Managing commercial real estate in a post-Covid world : the case for anonymised smart data

Collecting real-time occupancy data is central to help real-estate organisations manage their spaces in the context of hybrid work. Collecting precise and anonymised smart data has become a must today and digital workplace technologies play a key role in this. This smart data in turn will allow employees to organise their work and collaboration, allow landlords to help clients use their spaces efficiently and allow clients to organise facility services such as cleaning and catering. 

Right now, the top priority for any commercial real estate organisation is to understand how offices will be used in the post Covid era. They need to keep, extend and dispose of the right office space to meet client demand. 

Digital workplace technologies are an efficient tool to collect smart data

Conversations we have had, show that the real estate organisations with the most advanced plans recognise how essential digital workplace technology is. They know it is essential in delivering a safe and practical work environment to corporate clients. This technology measures actual occupancy and gives a real-time view on how and when space is used by people. In fact, it’s becoming clear that data will be a way for commercial building operators to differentiate. And we expect that there will be a high demand across the globe.

At the moment, common ways to get information about occupancy include using Wifi, network and bluetooth connection through access control, badge tracking or counting people using CCTV images. All have merits but none are ideal or accurate. A single person can have multiple device connections, and badges may be swiped in but not out. This provides little view of where people actually are in the building: are they using open space or meeting rooms on a particular floor for instance? The use of these technologies also raises concerns about smart data privacy, which must be managed carefully.

Anonymised smart data: respecting the tenants’ privacy while enabling data driven recommendations

That’s why smart workspace technologies are gaining traction. They are far more effective at providing a real-time view of what is happening and can gather smart data in such a way that it remains anonymous. The occupancy sensors deployed are totally independent of the enterprise network and the building infrastructure as well.

All this means that landlords can install this equipment within their buildings without privacy concerns from their tenants. And it provides useful insight into working patterns that can be proactively used to advise tenants on their office needs. Quantifying the amount of square feet required, and the optimal design and layout (for example meeting space, versus open plan desks). 

This is something that’s been subject to a certain amount of guess work in the past. But with real-time accurate smart data landlords can make value-added recommendations that can be trusted. They can also present well founded hypotheses to prospects based on the data of similar clients.  

Smart data’s key role in employee well-being and to retain talents

It can also be used to work out what adjustments need to be made to social distancing precautions and plan ahead. No one really knows how the space will be used until people start coming back to work. Knowing you can make adjustments based on evidence is not only efficient, it’s also reassuring for employees. If you know Mondays are always busy you can encourage different flexible working patterns with good reason. It also helps with more practical things like where to clean, and when catering needs to ramp up or down. 

When smart technology really comes into its own though is when you incorporate it with everyday productivity tools, like Microsoft calendars. People can plan ahead and say when they will be in and time it to co-inside with their colleagues. That way, when someone they really want to speak to plans to be in, they can meet them and book the specific space to meet.

Organisations are making huge decisions about where to locate people, when and how. Being able to offer smart data-lead services like these described above will be invaluable for their decision making. And in doing so, it will help commercial real estate teams stand out from the crowd and deliver extra value compared to competitors. 


If you’re managing a large real estate and want to understand how you can help clients use space sensibly and most effectively then speak to us. We have helped numerous companies across Europe achieve their property goals and more.