By ROBERT HEMMERDINGER, Director, Business Development, SmartStruxure, Schneider Electric

"The war for talent,” it has been said, “is over, and the talent won.”1 Young, high-performing employees are making known their desire for work environments meeting their needs for mobility, flexibility, and lifestyle balance. For companies looking to attract and retain this talent, the pressure to provide smart, connected spaces in which employees relish spending time is on.

At the same time, these companies are facing the challenge of increasing real-estate costs, especially in cities, which is where many Millennials want to live. Thus, property managers are looking for ways to decrease their footprint by utilizing mobile working, hot desking, flexible room allocation, and remote work policies.

This provides a unique opportunity for technology providers. Traditionally, their focus has been on the facility manager or energy manager and trying to make his or her work day easier, more productive, and more efficient. That still is important; however, putting the occupant at the center of a smart connected building—creating solutions that help him or her park efficiently; book a room, desk, or meeting room; locate colleagues or customers; and control the comfort of spaces (HVAC, lighting, blinds, etc.)—will prove to be more advantageous. Employees who work in a smart, connected, vibrant environment work longer and more efficiently and are much more likely to recommend their employer to others. Such a building becomes part of the brand, part of the persona, of an organization. It becomes a testament—to not only employees, but visitors, vendors, and investors—to the company’s vision and priorities.

A focus on the occupant and the development of building technologies according to his or her needs does not preclude the realization of benefits by the facility-management team. The team can better understand where people are or, more importantly, where they are not. The facilities team could decide not to heat or cool a space, a floor, or, in a campus scenario, an entire building, consequently reducing energy costs based on real-time building usage. The team could choose not to clean an area that hasn’t been used or provide occupant information to the cafeteria, allowing workers there to properly and efficiently plan for the day.

Buildings are getting smarter, providing more value to the owner, using less energy, becoming easier to manage, and, most importantly, creating a much more exciting user experience for the occupant.

  1. Bersin, J. (2013, December 19). The year of the employee: Predictions for talent, leadership, and hr technology in 2014. Forbes. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/Bersin_121913