JLL on the rise of technology in the office

By Tom Carroll, JLL

Market volatility, political turmoil, and a rapidly changing environment are some of the key elements that businesses will have to factor into their real estate portfolio planning this year. Technology is another factor disrupting the workplace as it reshapes our offices and what these spaces can do.

In Intel’s office in Israel, for instance, facial recognition has now replaced security passes, while the building itself is adapting and learning employee habits and preferences, from working environments to preferred refreshments.  

JLL’s Corporate Real Estate 2017 trends report predicts the technological issues facing business in the coming year. From the growth of cyber threats to the development of digital businesses, the future is already here – and our offices are at the forefront of this change, riding the wave of technological development.

Automation and the organisation reorganised

Rarely out of the headlines, robotics and automation are already being adopted widely across the corporate world. Importantly, however, this does not necessarily mean that the robots are coming for your job, or that we are about to see a wholesale replacement of humans with machines. In fact, although 25 percent of tasks across every job category will be automated by 2019, just nine percent of jobs are at risk of being totally automated – according to the OECD.

Rather, the automation of repetitive, simple tasks in the business process, could help firms increase the speed, precision and cost efficiency of their operations, freeing their (human) employees to focus more narrowly on actual value creation. Over the long term, automation has the potential to transform real estate portfolios, condensing them into fewer strategic locations and urban hubs. Enhanced productivity and lower costs would be some of the significant benefits for companies, but it is in the short term that we can see crucial changes in the workspace.

Workplace attitudes are already shifting, just as people are becoming more comfortable with smart technology and robotics in the home. Automation has transformed manufacturing processes and what we are seeing is an extension into new industries and job functions.

User experience will take primacy in the design of office environments as the war for talent grows more intense. To meet the expectations of the next generation and boost the productivity of those using the office, a greater variety of spaces will be available to work in. Activity based working – an approach to creating workplaces that provide users with shared access to spaces for individual and collaborative work – will become commonplace in workplace design. High-quality services, from food and beverages to recreation spaces, gyms and space to support wellbeing, will become standard features in core locations.


With high-profile cyber attacks occurring with a grim monotony, it is little surprise that 61 percent of CEOs are concerned about cyber threats, which will have an estimated cost of $6million by 2021.

Naturally, many firms will now start to think critically about what measures they can introduce to help mitigate the risks. This is particularly true for firms using external coworking spaces, where employees from different companies work in close proximity to each other. But with careful planning such as, for instance, the creation of a clear cybersecurity policy and the provision of separate servers or private Wi-Fi networks, there is no reason why firms can’t ensure that they are protected from cyber security threats.

Digital future proofing

By 2018, more than 50 percent of large organisations globally will compete using advanced analytics and proprietary algorithms, causing the disruption of entire industries. Firms will be able to harness the power of AI and predictive data analytics to improve real estate performance: enabling cost savings, providing data driven insights and improving productivity.

In Amsterdam, for instance, Deloitte’s headquarters is equipped with more than 30,000 sensors to track the movement of staff from the moment they walk through the door. Each of the 6,800 LED lights in the building is powered by low-voltage Ethernet cables and is equipped with a sensor that monitors temperature, movement, light, CO2 and humidity.

Navigating the changes set to take place will be a challenge for even the most forward-thinking of firms. The companies that will benefit from this disruption will be those adopting a change of mindset, ensuring their businesses are ‘tech-ready’. Investing in expertise and planning towards a more intelligent management of space, will become key to talent retention and attraction strategies as the current and next generation of workers will expect greater personalisation and choice, with IoT and device adoption becoming key components of the workplace customisation.

Successful businesses will be those managed by leaders able to think beyond and have the vision to make bold decisions on how these forces will reshape their business and real estate.

By Tom Carroll, Head of EMEA Corporate Research, JLL


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