Smart Buildings: Balancing Efficiency and Tenant Experience

Smart buildings offer the promise of peak efficiency, automation and comfort, all thanks to a network of sensors that can track everything from the temperature of a room to how many people are in each office and even when equipment needs repair. But as developers, owners and building managers adopt new technologies, they will have to reckon with a delicate balance between operational efficiency and tenant comfort.

“The question is really if they’ve considered every angle,” WiredScore CEO and founder Arie Barendrecht said. “Smart technology can yield great benefits if deployed correctly, but it can lead to unhappy tenants if it’s not thought through.”

Bisnow sat down with Barendrecht to learn how buildings can use data more effectively and discuss the best paths toward a smarter future.

Bisnow: What is a smart building?

Barendrecht: A smart building is any structure that uses automated processes to control its operations. That could mean something as simple as automatically adjusting the temperature in the lobby or as complex as tracking employees as they move through the entire building. Eighty percent of new construction involves at least one facet of the Internet of Things or related smart building technologies, according to a report from Research & Markets.

Bisnow: Where has building technology been in the past?

Barendrecht: Imagine a busy metropolitan office building. Every day, thousands of people pass through electric turnstiles opened by a keycard or fob. Previously, a central data hub likely tracked activity within the turnstiles but only came into effect when there was an irregularity. For example, if somebody passed through the turnstile without a keycard, it would buzz to alert a security guard. Commercial properties would collect this data, but never examine it. The computer system was used to detect issues, not for optimization or prediction.

Bisnow: What might a smart building do instead?

Barendrecht: Instead of merely collecting data, buildings are now implementing analytics platforms that examine data and harness it to make the building work more efficiently. In our turnstile example, a smart building’s analytics might “see” a spike in activity around noon as tenants exit for lunch. The building automatically decreases the HVAC system’s output to save energy while fewer people are in the building. The key here is data-driven automation, which can extend to lighting, elevators, security and more. Automation saves property managers the headaches of constantly tinkering with different controls. It shows asset managers that the buildings are running on a more cost-efficient scale, and ultimately, it makes the building more profitable for owners and investors.

Bisnow: How might this come into conflict with tenant experience?

Barendrecht: For smart buildings to succeed, building stakeholders must also consider the wants and needs of the users of real estate, especially as office buildings evolve into hubs of human connection and collaboration. Think about a pivotal client pitch presentation in that same office building on a hot summer day. Around noon, everybody is gathered in their conference room. Just one problem: The building’s air conditioning starts to turn down automatically since the majority of tenants are leaving for lunch. The conference room becomes uncomfortably hot and the meeting starts poorly, leaving both the tenant and their client annoyed.  Operational efficiency is an extremely attractive benefit of smart buildings, but it must be balanced by a positive tenant experience. A building can have all the latest tech, but if it is not being used to make employees happier and more productive, what’s the use?

Bisnow: What’s the solution?

Barendrecht: The solution hinges on increased control flexibility and data transparency with the tenant in mind. The building’s management could have used an app like Comfy to give the tenants control over their own office’s air conditioning within the smart building. Or, the app could have at least given the office manager advanced notice that the air conditioning was going to be automatically lowered.

Bisnow: I imagine there’s more to smart buildings than just efficiency?

Barendrecht: There is huge potential for smart buildings to enhance tenants’ experience. Imagine if a calendar invite automatically booked the meeting room, sent the attendee list to the building’s security system and used the number of attendees and time of day to adjust the HVAC and lighting. Then, the conference room’s television already had the correct presentation displayed when everyone stepped into the room.  Think of all the time and headaches that are being saved just by streamlining that one process.

Bisnow: How close are these technologies?

Barendrecht: They’re here already, and they’re not just added bonuses — tenants expect them. According to QY Research, in 2018 the global smart building market size was around $58B, and it is expected to triple by the end of 2025. It is the tenants’ responsibility to ask their brokers or landlords for this type of technology and building owners’ responsibility to be prepared with it. A common industry standard for digital infrastructure like WiredScore is essential as both sides of the equation adjust.  The balance of operational efficiency and tenant experience is not new in commercial real estate, but it is being placed in a completely revised context in smart buildings. If both sides are balanced in harmony, everybody — tenants and building owners — will benefit.

Portions of this article originally appeared on the Bisnow website.

The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

 

How To Keep Your Digital Data Safe While Travelling

data-chart-how-to-stay-digitally-safe-while-travelling

The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Are Office Perks Overrated?

two people playing table football
Photo by Kamille Sampaio on Pexels.com

In today’s labor market, companies are doing all they can to attract employees and keep them around. From free beer to foosball tables, many employers are going all out to get your attention.

But the noise and hoopla of silly perks can be a distraction. They might seem like fun things to have, but when you’re choosing your next job, your next company, or even deciding whether to stay in your organization, you need to look behind the hype.

Here are just some of the many reasons why the following perks are probably overrated.

  1. PING-PONG AND FOOSBALL TABLES

Ping-pong and foosball tables might sound great in theory, but it’s even more important to consider whether the company has a healthy dose of competition. Many organizations spur on teams with internal contests for the highest sales or best customer satisfaction. These friendly rivalries can drive positive outcomes and good relationships.

But does the company keep the competition in check? After all, too much opposition can breed in-fighting or a culture where people are working against each other’s success, rather than working together to beat the competition in the marketplace.

  1. FREE FOOD

Well-stocked break areas, fancy-flavored water, or daily ice cream breaks might seem like a dream. But it’s not always a sign that the company has your actual well-being in mind. Are there healthy snacks in addition to sugary treats? Does the company also offer on-site wellness clinics and excellent healthcare (including support for mental health)? Are you able to take walking breaks? Look beyond the superficial break area experience to determine whether the company is considering you as a whole person and contributing to your overall well-being.

  1. ON-SITE SERVICES

It might seem convenient to have your work provide dry cleaning drop-off or pickup at work. But you also need to think about whether the company allows you to work reasonable hours. Sometimes, convenience perks suggest that a company expects you to work constantly—after all, why would you need dinner at the office if you weren’t working through your evening meal? Of course, you’ll want to work hard and make a significant contribution. But you can do this best when you also have time away from the office, and when you’re not always “on” at work.

  1. SLIDES AND SWINGS

Slides and swings might seem like a chance to transport your childhood to your adulthood and let you work with abandon but think about whether the organization truly empowers employees. Are you able to take appropriate risks on new projects or stretch your wings to grow your career? Do leaders trust employees and give them the freedom to complete work in their own ways rather than micromanaging them? Can you work in plenty of different venues across campus or from home occasionally? You’ll enjoy your work most when you can deliver results with autonomy for how you work, where you work, and when you work.

  1. TERRACES, BALCONIES, AND OUTSIDE WALKWAYS

The opportunity to get outside and enjoy the vista around your office is a terrific way to get some perspective during your workday. But be sure that the long view is part of your overall experience with the company—not just a literal moment in the sun. Consider whether you feel a sense of purpose in your work and ensure you’re committed to where your company is going. You’ll enhance your motivation and avoid burnout if you feel like you’re contributing to something larger than yourself that matters in the long term.

  1. YOGA, MASSAGE, AND TAI CHI CLASSES

No one can argue with the benefits of these perks. Most companies offer wellness options to demonstrate they value employees. But these will do very little for your well-being if you aren’t sure you feel valued for the work you’re doing. Can you bring all of yourself to work? Do you receive recognition for the outcomes you produce? Do you have opportunities for continuing education or professional development? Are you appropriately rewarded for the work your company pays you to do? Feeling valued generally is a good thing but feeling valued for the contribution you make is even more critical.

  1. BEER ON TAP

An open bar is a great way to meet colleagues and cut loose (as long as you don’t cut too loose). But it’s even more crucial that the organization promotes healthy relationships between people and teams. Having a best friend at work is rewarding, and working with a team of people whom you value and who value you can be some of the most critical aspects of your happiness at work. Consider whether the company’s culture fosters real connections and meaningful relationships with coworkers.

With companies providing so many perks, it’s a great time to be an employee. But if you want to be genuinely fulfilled at work, you need to look beyond the ping-pong tables, slides, or beer on tap. Ensure that the company has a healthy culture and values your health and well-being. Consider whether the company respects your right to have a life outside of work and empowers you to get your job done. Choose a socially responsible company where you have great relationships with colleagues and a sense of purpose.

Everything counts when choosing your work experience, and right now you can afford to be selective. Enjoy the sugary high you get from the free snacks, but more importantly, focus on the nature of the culture and the work. Those are the things that will provide more buzz in the long term.

Portions of this article originally appeared on the Fast Company website.

The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

 

The Habits of Highly Effective Leaders

best-leader

The Sundance Company                                                      
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

How To Combat Stress At Work

done-7_how-to-combat-employee-stress-blog-post-700x3828

The Sundance Company                                                      
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Christmas Traditions Around The World

infographic-13-700x4407

The Sundance Company                                                      
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

How to Stop Procrastinating

woman sharing her presentation with her colleagues
Photo by Canva Studio on Pexels.com

Exceptions exist, but most of us can identify at least one area of our imperfect lives (whether it’s our health, home, work, or relationships), where, for no justifiable reason, we routinely delay doing that thing (or series of small thingies) that would improve the present moment or future.

Procrastination also appears to be as old as we are—academics have traced a history of philosophers grappling with the problem—so relying on a few hacks to deal with it seems naive. People love hacks, but they’re really only handy for treating procrastination as a symptom, the way small nudges—like hiding the cookie jar—can help people stick to a diet, without, arguably, changing their fundamental relationship with food.

Our guide, therefore, combines hacks with suggested tactics for designing your own more holistic approach to beating procrastination, one that examines all the deeper dynamics at work—the fear, the automatic coping strategies, the self-deception—when you put things off. All we ask is you…

Take the first (micro) step

Boom. You’ve done it. Not only did you click into this story, but you’ve also begun reading the first “tip,” rather than pinging the link to your Pocket or Evernote list to read later. Making that oh-so-tiny first move is an evidence-backed strategy for beating procrastination; the trick is setting the threshold for completion low—so low that the hedonist in you, who would rather feel good now and deal with real stuff later, won’t put up a fight.

Tim Pychyl, a psychologist and director of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada, says that his group tested this approach in a small study and “found that once students got started, they appraised a task as less difficult and less stressful, even more enjoyable than they had thought,” he explains in an email to Quartz. “They said things like ‘I don’t know why I put it off, because it’s not so bad,’ and ‘I could have done a better job if I got started earlier.’”

Planning to get in shape by taking the stairs to work? Promise yourself you’re going to do just one flight. You’ll continue. Have a letter of recommendation to write? Tell yourself that all you have to do is open your laptop and reread the email requesting that letter, says Pychyl. As a bonus, completing that baby step will give a person a sense of accomplishment, which is fuel to continue.

Manage your emotions, not only your time

One common harbinger of oncoming procrastination is the belief that you should wait until you’re in the right mood to get something done. It’s a trap.

Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago, has found that the “I’m not in the mood to do X” argument, which we’re all familiar with, can lead to a vicious cycle. The Atlantic once called it the “procrastination doom loop,” and described the stages: “I’ll do it later!” becomes “Ugh, I’m being so unproductive,” which turns into “Maybe I should think about starting this task…,” leading directly to “but I’m in the wrong mood to do it well,” so “I’ll do it later!” And so on.

The truth is, tossing aside a task because you’re “not in the mood” is actually a way of externally regulating your emotions—perhaps a fear of failure, of disappointing others, of losing some self-esteem, of not being perfect, says Fuschia Sirois, a psychologist and lecturer at the University of Sheffield in the UK. You may believe that procrastination is a time management issue, but really, “it’s just a way of coping with emotions that you’re ill-equipped to cope with,” she says. The dark feelings can be off-putting enough to be paralyzing, to send you looking for anything else you can do besides the task at hand, a reaction that’s often knee-jerk and unexamined.

Sirois suggests reflecting on the real reason that you’re procrastinating and turning to emotional regulation tactics—which could include reframing the way you see a situation (psychologists call it cognitive reappraisal) or naming the emotion you’re experiencing (labelling)—to deal with the underlying feelings that are triggering procrastination. Research has suggested that people with more developed abilities at regulating their emotions, and in particular those who can tolerate the unpleasant ones, are less likely to procrastinate. In other words, you may need a therapist, or you may need to figure out how to be your own therapist.

Name your delay: Is it really procrastination?

One easy solution to cutting down on all the procrastination in your life is to reclassify any delays that aren’t actually procrastination, thus clarifying your perspective on the problem. It could lift some unnecessary weight.

Delays come in all forms, and some are what Pychyl calls “sagacious delays.” They might give a person room to gather more information or get the sleep needed to refresh an overworked mind. Other delays are inevitable and may stem from other more pressing roles you play in your life, says Pychyl.

Consider the taxonomy of delays that Mohsen Haghbin, one of Pychyl’s former students, identified:

Inevitable delays, arising when one’s schedule is overloaded, or a crisis related to an obligation (as a parent, for example) knocks a person off track

Arousal delays, when a person delays a task because they enjoy the pressure of doing something at the last minute

Hedonistic delays, when a person chooses doing something instantly gratifying and pleasurable over the task at hand

Delays due to psychological problems, such as grieving or another mood or mental health condition, whether chronic or acute

Purposeful delays, when a person needs to, say, think about something before writing about it

Irrational delays, which are inexplicable to the procrastinator and often fueled by fear and anxiety

In practice, these categories are not mutually exclusive.

Correctly labelling a delay matters, because you can’t defeat an enemy if your image of it is in vague or muddied. Sometimes you may be intentionally pushing something into the future—let’s say postponing your delivery of a creative project— and calling it procrastination, when what you’re actually doing is allowing yourself time to think. But calling it “productive procrastination” could easily lead to real procrastination, Pychel theorizes, because, by its definition, procrastination impedes productivity.

Many people say they have made procrastination work for them, such as Tim Urban, author of the “Wait But Why” blog and a master procrastinator. Arguably, Leonardo Da Vinci did the same. According to the taxonomy above, however, what such people may actually have figured out for themselves is the value of arousal or purposeful delay. All the power to them, but intentional delays can worsen anxiety in those prone to it. Importantly, at least according to Pychyl, they’re not necessarily procrastinators in the truest sense and they likely don’t have to deal with the fallout from real procrastination. At work, for instance, chronic procrastination has been associated with lower salaries and lower rates of employment.

Practice “structured” procrastination

In 1996, John Perry, a Stanford University professor of philosophy, gave the procrastinators of the world a gift: a concept called “structured procrastination.”  (He has since written a book on the topic.) To procrastinate with structure involves putting the task that’s most daunting and somewhat urgent near the top of your list, but keeping your list filled with other equally valuable tasks that are less daunting to you.

Since procrastinators avoid whatever is near the top of their list, that’s where he suggests putting your most important task, and taking advantage of your urge to avoid it to tackle all the less important but still-valuable must-dos on your agenda. So, instead of getting next-to-nothing done as you put off writing that first draft of your looming presentation, you attack your messy office desk with cheerful fervor. As a bonus, your inner maverick—the one who wants you not to be such a mindless slave to your obligations— will feel acknowledged.

Perry also suggested padding your list of to-dos with the minor accomplishments you probably would have pulled off anyway, like “make coffee” or “shut off alarm,” just to give yourself those dopamine hits from tiny wins.

He wrote in his original essay on the topic:

Procrastinators often follow exactly the wrong tack. They try to minimize their commitments, assuming that if they have only a few things to do, they will quit procrastinating and get them done. But this approach ignores the basic nature of the procrastinator and destroys his most important source of motivation. The few tasks on his list will be, by definition, the most important. And the only way to avoid doing them will be to do nothing. This is the way to become a couch potato, not an effective human being.

It’s all a mind game you play with yourself, but proponents say it works.

Time travel to your future self

When a New Year’s resolution fails, we rarely hold a back-of-the-brain, post-mortem meeting to examine why. If we did, we’d often discover that we’d made a mistake when we imagined the future: we saw it as different from today, free of the burdens that make exercise or organizing our files feel so totally impossible to achieve this week. But we don’t ask why Monday would be any different.

“We believe this future me of tomorrow or next week will have more energy, more willpower to follow through on this task that feels threatening to me,” says Sirois, “but we don’t really change that much in that time frame.” It’s a ruse that only leads to more stress, she adds.

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon, a psychology researcher at Carleton University, has developed a guided visualization exercise—to be practiced daily for 10 minutes—to help people feel more connected to their future self, to see that they are largely one and the same, and to thus be kinder to that person. To begin, you would choose the area in which you most need to stop procrastinating. Then begin to imagine yourself at a certain “deadline” time in the future, and get specific about the details: Where are you? What are you wearing? How do you feel? What words do you see in an email to you about this task? Although Blouin-Hudon’s script was written for students, it can serve at a blueprint for a personalized exercise.

We have a wonderful ability to “see” the past, present, and future, so why not use it, says Blouin-Hudon. Her work and that of others have suggested that shoring up one’s sense of “future-self continuity” can lead to less procrastination.

Make plans to work around the “The hell with it” effect

Once you’re committed to not procrastinating, you may still encounter moments when, facing an unexpected turn of events, you’ll be tempted to return to your old friend, your trusted escape, procrastination.

For instance, you’re planning to cycle to work, but when you open the garage door, you find that it’s raining, writes Thomas Webb, another psychologist at University of Sheffield, in his Psychology Today blog, “The Road To Hell.” Suddenly your will power is stretched, and your good intention is vulnerable to collapsing under what Webb calls “‘the hell with it’ effect.” As in “The hell with it. I can ride to work tomorrow.”

But, he explains, your intentions will have a fighting chance if you have enacted an “if-then” plan, a specific type of behavior change technique, developed by psychologist Peter Gollwitzer.  The “if-then” method ensures that you’ve spent some time thinking about what headwinds you might encounter and how you’ll react to them. Rather than give up when a challenge arises, writes Webb, “the person would quickly and relatively automatically think about how good they will feel about themselves if they cycle and find themselves rolling down the road looking forward to these feelings.”

Behavior change, as a category of study, is loaded with techniques like this, Webb points out. Among the dozens of options, the if-then plan has the most evidence to suggest that it’s durable enough to protect a commitment during a stress test.

It can pay to attend to your physical and mental environment, too, to minimize the number of critical moments that might possibly be encountered. If your mind perceives a silently vibrating phone as a cue to start scrolling through Instagram, turn the appliance off. (Seems obvious, but how often do we do it?) If your colleague’s mood feels contagious and counterproductive, create some distance.

Avoid berating oneself

Negative emotions can be motivating, until they’re not. When you’re so immersed in a crappy feeling, like shame or fear, you can’t take an objective view of the situation, says Sirois. “When procrastinators feel bad, they’re feeling bad not just about the things they’re currently procrastinating on, but they’re remembering all the times they procrastinated before,” Sirois explains, “so it feeds back into feeling negative, which feeds back into wanting to avoid whatever the task is all together.”

A range of exercises exist to help a person recognize and become less controlled by self-defeating emotions, she says, whether through forgiveness, or more subtly, self-compassion, her focus of academic research. For instance, you might first recall a past incident when you procrastinated, and life was not okay in the end. Then write a note to yourself, as if you were writing to a friend, reassuring that person that what they did was not immoral or inexcusable. “We’re a lot kinder to other people who are struggling than we are to ourselves,” she adds. “We all default to self-critical.”

Sirois’s experiments suggest that normalizing your past mistakes this way seems to “brings down the threshold of those emotions, so that you can get on with things, rather than having to deal with the way you’re feeling.”

Simply tell yourself, “Look, you were not the first person to procrastinate,” she says, “and you won’t be the last.”

Portions of this article originally appeared on the Quartz at Work website.

The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.