The rise of co-working space and the need for smart buildings

Real Estate Predictions 2018

Co-working is rising and changing the way that we are using office space. Co-working spaces need to be flexible and optimized at the same time. To effectively achieve this for co-working individuals, the brain of the building— is crucial in detecting the needs and issues that arise. The Real Estate Predictions series and this content was developed by Deloitte in the Netherlands.

25/01 - Written by Rinse Bruggeman, Desie Driever and Wilfrid Donkers, Deloitte Netherlands

The growth of co-working

Co-working spaces have become a hot topic and the recent growth of their roll-out has been phenomenal. Unlike the more traditional serviced-office model co-working tenants, or members, share a range of facilities like furniture, printing, phones, operational and technical support. Members also share costs such as those for the property, internet, and energy. Leasing space on a membership basis can often result in lower costs than renting a regular office. This collaborative and effective means of taking space is attractive to those firms wanting flexibility, such as small and fast-growing companies, freelancers, technology and media firms or any business that can thrive in this version of the modern workplace. Especially those companies geared towards the millennial generation of worker and those that like to work in a vibrant community with like—minded people. Collaboration, networking and of course at times the ‘cool’ factor are descriptors for co-working.

Not to be left on the sidelines, larger firms are also eyeing up the benefits of taking co-working space. While cost and flexibility are important drivers, access to the community would be key. Connecting with start-ups and growing businesses could enable new relationships to be built from an early stage. Partnerships with the next generation of businesses could help the smaller firms to achieve greater scale-up. While educating the larger companies better to spot trends and opportunities as they are surrounded by a younger companies and workforce.

Tech enabled space

Advances in technology has been one of the main enablers of co-working space. An advanced IT-infrastructure with fast and reliable internet has been the basis for successful co-working spaces. As the competition between co-working providers increases, operators must be savvy as to how technology can differentiate their spaces. Embracing the use of Internet of Things (IoT) is the next step. As buildings are get smarter and we start to learn how to better use space, this will be necessary for todays’ users and needs.

IoT in co-working spaces

IoT in buildings allows flexibility and possibilities for work space optimization, it makes it easier for the building to fit the users’ needs and signals problems and issues that arise. What can we expect from IoT in co-working spaces? Sensors in the building collect all kind of information like occupancy, temperature, energy consumption etc. Software connects the information provided by the sensors, creating the ‘building’s brain’. Hereby the building can self-diagnose problems and communicate information. The building becomes a living structure, capable of recognizing the problems and needs of the building community. The capture of data through the sensors provides the operator of co-working spaces with deeper insights into the operational effectiveness, which is necessary in the competitive co-working space market.

Through analysis of data of the occupancy of working spaces and conference rooms, work space optimization is possible. Sensors registers occupancy on different times and days and tracks the movements of the users. The resulting data can for example show that certain work places are often underutilized, creating room for improvement.

Also IoT will contribute to manage building operating expenses. Utilities are a large part of building operating expenses. IoT in buildings can map the utilization of the building and adapt the lighting, heat, air quality, cleaning and security among others for controlled zones within the building. This creates energy conservation and other cost reductions through amending the use of the building. Substantial savings building operating costs will result.

Opportunities of IoT

IoT provides lots of opportunities, but as described in our 2017 Real Estate Predictions, the rise of smart buildings brings with it new risks such as cyber risk. Another important thing to watch is privacy of the buildings’ users. Because of all the data sensors collect, privacy has to be top priority. IoT should be used to make the building user friendly and personal data should not be able to be accessed by anyone other than the employee. This is especially relevant in co-working spaces where multiple companies are working and data privacy should be key. Consequently cyber risk and privacy must be at the forefront with collaboration from real estate companies, operators and IT companies ensure security in the modern workplace.

Although the concept of co-working space is not new, we expect it to continue to gain greater popularity. The success of co-working space will be in the flexibility and space optimization that the model offers. Couple this with how technology, in particular IoT can bring about further workplace change and greater understanding. Enabling tenants to flex up and down depending on their needs and not to be restricted by traditional lease terms will ensure co-working space will establish itself in the market.

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