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Workplace round table covers three key themes: Smart Buildings, Artificial Intelligence and People

By Kim Taylor posted Oct 18, 2017 03:22 AM


The Workplace Community roundtable took place on 20 June at UBS’s London headquarters. Chaired by Farrol Goldblatt and supported Melanie Woolcott who sits on the Workplace community for CoreNet Global’s UK Chapter, the session explored three themes, Smart Buildings, Artificial Intelligence and People, here we look at how smart technology is being used and the benefits it can bring to both FM and HR teams.


Thanks to all those involved for their time and input; Colin Holden, Pfizer Ltd; Julie Mercer, Unilever UK Holdings; Gail Meakin, European Bank; Jonathan Speary, Honeywell Control Systems; Rob Bullough, UBS; Matthew Graham, E&Y; Alison Webb, Lendlease; Philip Putman, CBRE; David D’Souza, CIPD; and  Jason Turner, HLW


Smart technology


Smart technology is changing the way we live, how cities are run, and how our buildings and offices

are operated. In response to this we’re witnessing a rise in businesses that are implementing internet connected technology to gather data from their buildings, with the end goal to provide users with an enhanced experience, support increased productivity, monitor space management, and benefit the environment.


Data, whether collected through IP logins or security systems, is already being used to drill down into the detail of how a space is used, from monitoring space utilisation, lighting and temperature matching, to tracking user movements and heart rates to evaluate stress levels and wellbeing.


Integration of the multiple systems in place is integral for smart buildings to succeed and provide the information businesses are looking. Smart components are being designed in to and implemented in buildings but they need to be pieced together as a corporate solution and the outputs should be used to both benefit the user and in time inform future designs. There’s a need for the industry to be educated, not only on the benefits of using smart technology but firstly how to use it and integrate it into the day-to-day operation of a building. However, when integrated and used correctly there are many benefits to be had from smart technology.


Operational benefits


It’s unquestionable that smart technology allows businesses to re-evaluate and use its facilities more effectively, with technology currently available on the market that can provide data to predict and prevent maintenance levels based on an individual machines’ usage - saving both time and cost.  FM strategies are also looking at how smart data can be used to monitor space utilisation and making users more comfortable by focusing on areas and facilities being used the most and ensuring they are maintained.



From a HR perspective, smart building technology can improve the working environment, but privacy and how data collection is promoted to employees is at the top of their agenda. It is the role of the HR team to emphasise the benefits of data collection to the user and educate them to become more receptive to being monitored. One solution is to make the data available not only to the employer, but also the employee so they can see how it’s working.


Smart buildings are also set to play a key role in attracting and retaining premium talent by supporting a more agile way of working, which has seen a shift in focus from the big corporates to attracting talent and asking what they can do to differentiate from their competitors. This, more than anything, emphasises the need for HR and FM teams to work hand-in-hand to address the technology experience millennials need to keep them engaged and motivated.


A significant mood shift towards wellness in the workplace is evident with employees genuinely worried about sitting down for eight hours a day. This is where we need to call on the HR and FM agendas to merge. Employees are asking the FM teams what they’re going to do about it and should expect more questions like this from employees in the future as well as be prepared to answer them with HR.


There’s a clear benefit in the use of smart technology in our buildings. Now is the time for both FM and HR teams to join forces to provide a better working building and utilise the data available for the good of a workforce that is now more than ever conscious of wellness and wellbeing in the working environment.