As property owners grapple with how to deliver differentiated experiences, technology continues to play a major role. Access control is the foundation for delivering new capabilities today—and opening up the door for future innovations.
The internet of things (IoT) is revolutionizing the way that we think about the built world. At the same time, as the economy continues to emerge from almost two years of pandemic-related upheaval, the nature of work has also changed. Ubiquitous work-from-home arrangements and emerging hybrid models have blurred the lines between the home and the workplace.
All of this adaptation provides an exciting opportunity to rethink the relationship between people and the buildings where they spend their time. Residents have new expectations about their homes, as well as the offices where they work. There is an appetite for improved experiences, and the good news is that improving experience can improve financial performance.
As more property owners grapple with how to deliver differentiated experiences, technology continues to play a major role. Access control serves as the foundation for the smart building, delivering new capabilities today and opening up the door for future innovations. This trend holds true across all asset classes, with differing benefits for each property type.
The value of experiences for multifamily housing
An unusual feature of smart-building technology is the breadth of benefits that it delivers to the companies that adopt it. It improves living experiences while at the same time creating operational efficiencies and ultimately lowering costs. At Latch, our work with an ever-growing base of multifamily operators has taught us how owners and operators think about returns on smart-building investments.
Here are four of the most common ways that communities achieve ROI from access control implementations:
- Increased rental value
Convenience and technology-driven experiences matter. Smart-access control is fundamental to enabling today’s modern lifestyle and as more residents come to rely on service providers, package deliveries and contactless guest access, the ability to control access via an app is transformative. This is often reflected in the value of a property. Communities with smart-access control typically achieve higher rents than an otherwise similar neighboring property that still uses keys.
- More effective marketing
Tours that showcase beautiful, simple-access control tend to be more successful than tours that start, for example, with a lockbox.
Beyond the tour experience, the reputational benefit of the technology can be a force multiplier for marketers. As reputation scores have grown in importance for multifamily marketers, they have amplified current residents’ digital “word of mouth.” A tech-enabled tour and living experience burnishes a community’s reputation and ultimately improves marketing performance.
- Higher productivity
Keys are a barrier for multifamily productivity. Processes such as move-ins and move-outs cost significantly more time and money when you need to factor in making and distributing keys, changing out locks, etc. Additionally, everyday occurrences like property tours, guest access, lock-out situations and package handling all cost time and money when keys are involved. Replacing keys with technology can convert wasted site team hours into more lead follow-up, completed maintenance tickets and greater efficiency.
- Improved operating models
Access-control solutions also enable operators to make more radical changes to their operating models.
Keyless entry enables self-service leasing, which has become increasingly popular during the pandemic. It also helps centralize many of the leasing functions. The financial and safety benefits are obvious, but in today’s challenging talent environment, it’s wise to focus leasing agents’ time on closing leases (rather than touring) to eliminate some of the more time-consuming parts of the job and provide better career progression.
Evolving the office experience for today
While multifamily operators have been grappling with work-from-home arrangements, forward-thinking offices have been working on the challenge of enticing workers to return. Few problems are more pressing at the moment than worker shortages and the “Great Resignation.” The quality of the workplace experience should be a high priority for most companies.
One way for commercial office owners and operators to address this challenge is to empower their tenants through technology. From the lobby to the offices themselves, building owners are looking for ways to improve, and one experience that is ripe for improvement is visitor entry.
Typically, visitor entry at commercial office buildings is unnecessarily complicated, from long lines in the lobby to complex and timely visitor invite processes for tenants. The same kind of technology that is streamlining multifamily buildings can also be deployed in office buildings, enabling visitors to go from the front door, through the lobby and to their meeting more seamlessly than ever before.
Imagine a process where your meeting invitation comes along with simple check-in instructions. Visitors can simply show their electronic credentials and identification at the front desk for simplified check-in. Returning visitors don’t ever need to check in at the front desk, and buildings become more pleasant and much less frustrating places to visit. At the same time, building tenants can enjoy a simple invitation process. Instead of emailing requests to office managers or adding visitors to antiquated systems, they can simply invite visitors using an app or an integration through their calendar.
As workers return to the office after a couple of years of Zoom calls, a “Zoom-like” invitation process allows the built world to meet and exceed the expectations set online. At Latch, we’re working on just such a technology-enabled experience with three of New York City’s most iconic buildings: Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building and Brookfield Place.
Competition for scarce talent shows no sign of relenting for the foreseeable future. Consumer and worker preferences have changed over the last couple of years, raising expectations about the quality of experiences and the technology that facilitates them. Commercial real estate owners and operators should treat resident and tenant experiences as a top priority.
If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s the importance of being agile. By enabling buildings with smart-access and smart-building technology, property owners gain the built-in flexibility necessary to future-proof their assets while transforming the overall tenant experience and driving end-to-end efficiency.