Banks zoom in on data amid new office demands

Technology insights and artificial intelligence are creating compelling workplace experiences

New patterns around how we work, live, and play are putting fresh demands on property. Specifically, more flexibility, better health and wellbeing, and greater personalisation. In response, managers of banks’ corporate offices are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) and data insights for more accurate decision-making and a better employee experience.

Some examples: AI that provides ‘smart’ seat assignments in the office based on usage patterns over time; and technology that can predict when equipment, such as air conditioning, is going to fail.

“Facilities managers in banking real estate are leveraging technology and becoming more agile,” says David Purves, executive director, financial services, resources and infrastructure, JLL. “They’re challenging the way traditional spaces are managed by looking at data that paints a picture of how people are interacting with spaces.”

Post pandemic, where video conferencing is enabling people to work from anywhere, facilities managers are curating offices to adapt to fluctuating headcounts, as well as support collaboration between coworkers.

“When flexible working requirements weren’t as widespread as they are now, remote workers may have been able to connect virtually to teams in the office, but they were almost on the periphery and couldn’t interact meaningfully,” Purves says.

“Office design and fit-outs now provide collaboration hubs which are compelling to employees because they are collegiate and inspire creativity. Technology is becoming more integrated so virtual attendees are immersed in whatever process is taking place.”

Fixing things before they break

Adaptable workspaces are a core objective for business leaders responding to the varying needs of employees on any given day, but predictive technology is ensuring they stay a step ahead.

This includes dynamic occupancy planning which uses an AI engine to provide ‘smart’ seat assignments based on usage patterns, including the number of people turning up to the office, which spaces they are using, and how.

“These insights provide significant opportunities for banks to rationalise their portfolios, or adapt and change them,” Purves says.

The growing remit for facilities managers to leverage data extends to ensuring equipment runs efficiently, too. This is especially important now when potential friction points for employees can be detrimental to office attendance or creating collaborative environments.

Proactive and predictive maintenance of electrical, fire, heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment by using data and insights to forecast when they might fail, is now an expected way of operating buildings. This is opposed to reactive maintenance, where something breaks down and a technician is sent to fix it.

“You’re actually predicting failure before it happens, which means you can work around times that a workspace, or a retail space is occupied to repair or replace equipment,” Purves says.

This proactive approach to maintenance is also gathering pace as people become more aware of their health and wellbeing, and the environmental impact of buildings in operation comes under increasing focus.

“There is so much more to come in the application of tech and data in managing real estate, including the embedding of virtual reality, augmented reality and internet of things,” Purves says.

“Contactless and sensor technology is already separating workplaces in terms of employee experience and the insights that can be actioned, and that is only going to accelerate as real estate managers give due attention to all the possibilities.”

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