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Strong Competition Expected in the Workplace Comfort and Occupant Engagement Market

Dec 13, 2018

Smart Home 4

In 2016, JLL introduced the 3-30-300 formula to help decision makers determine where cost savings will be most valuable in commercial real estate. The premise is that there is an average order of magnitude for a company's cost per square foot (SF): $3.00 in utilities, $30.00 in rent, and $300.00 in payroll. A 10% increase in energy efficiency yields $0.30/SF cost savings. A 10% reduction in rent saves $3.00/SF. However, a productivity improvement of 10% equates to $30.00/SF.

This quickly became the rule of thumb in the industry when considering human capital and the relationship between sustainability and productivity. What may appear as a modest improvement in employee health or productivity can have a significant improvement on the employers’ bottom-line. This formula demonstrates why changes to the human experience have the greatest impact.

It became clear that occupant engagement solutions provide profitable value proposition. Many companies, both incumbent building technology providers and startups, quickly introduced such solutions. Initially, there have been many piecemeal efforts to offer occupant engagement solutions. For example, some applications primarily targeted workplace managers by offering space utilization, indoor environment management, and operational efficiency. Others prioritized employee interface featuring room reservation, thermal discomfort management, and indoor navigation. It has taken some time for companies to offer comprehensive solutions that address all aspects of a workplace environment.

How Is the Market Responding?

Honeywell has been offering the Vector Occupant App which is also available in white-label. In 2016, the app included features such as Digital Identification, Convenient Access Control, and One-Click Hot/Cold Calls. In 2018, the app was updated to include Space Reservation and Indoor Way-Finding capabilities. This is an example of a solution adjusting to the market trends.

Acquisition is another way to provide an occupant engagement solution. This summer, Siemens acquired Comfy, an Oakland-based startup that allows office workers to control temperature and lighting. This was a strategic investment to expand the smart building solution portfolio. Comfy collects data such as an employee’s favorite temperature, lighting, seating locations, and more. As it learns these preferences, it will adjust building settings as the employee moves around the office, anticipating needs based on movement and schedule.

Lastly, Schneider Electric has built its own solution and will be launching it in North America in 2019. Schneider’s EcoStruxure Workplace Advisor is a suite of digital services for the workplace offering occupancy and well-being analytics, and a mobile occupant application to improve occupants’ engagement and productivity and enable building managers to better optimize space. It collects wellness metrics such as temperature, CO2, humidity, light, sound, and volatile organic compounds.

An Innovative Future

The occupant engagement solutions market is a dynamic one teeming with competitive solutions as workplace managers increasingly strive to make data-driven decisions to optimize the workplace and improve the well-being of employees while increasing productivity. Employees are also starting to truly experience the benefits of these solutions in terms of not only comfort, but convenience as well. For example, employees no longer need to walk around the office checking to see if booked conference rooms are in use. Instead, they can look at the app and find out which rooms are empty. There is a growing focus on the end user experience as the occupant engagement solutions market aggressively heads toward full market development and commercialization.