Part 5: Thinking about User Experience in Buildings

Perhaps some of you have stumbled across the term “user experience” in the previous part. That just shows how important it is to address this aspect of Smart Buildings and PropTech. We are familiar with user experience from software and consumer goods development. User Experience (abbreviation UX) describes all aspects of a user’s experience when interacting with a product, service, environment or facility. In real estate management, UX would be one of the soft factors that has received little attention so far. We’ve spent the last 40 years letting buildings consume less energy or reducing construction or maintenance costs. And we’ve forgotten why we build them at all – because we want people to be comfortable and productive.

Real estate managers often cannot quantify soft factors well enough to justify investments in UX. It is therefore primarily the revolution in the way we work that is slowly changing the mentality of the real estate industry to maximize the value of the “occupant experience” service to be delivered, rather than just minimize the cost of providing the workspace. In fact, we believe that the “war for talent” and flexible new work approaches will sooner or later force this change of mentality. So far it is a trend and not the norm. The day-to-day property manager has barely felt the effects of a changing ecosystem.

Yes, we also have to further reduce construction and operating costs (especially energy consumption) from an ecological point of view. But at the same time we must face the challenge of UX. Matt Ernst, renowned author at the IoT for All platform, calls for: “[…] a fantastic user interface for the smart building user. Create an app that people want to open and use when they come to work, or when they come to their shopping mall/hospital/etc. Find a way to create an emotional connection between a building and its inhabitants. Once you have done that, use the data to find out why people enjoy their time indoors/at work and what makes a particular room better for productivity and enjoyment than others. Make people happier and more productive.” At Favendo, we will do everything we can to make that happen.

You may also read Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4 of this article series.