Lendlease Launches Software Platform to Optimize Office Use

The property giant gets in on the employee-tracking trend through a partnership with Google Cloud

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Global real estate company Lendlease announced Tuesday the launch of Podium Property Insights (PPI), a software tool for workplace managers and real estate owners looking to optimize the use of their buildings.

Lendlease Digital, a business unit of the Sydney, Australia-based Lendlease, claims that its new tool will help buildings become autonomous with the use of its digital platform, developed in partnership with Google Cloud.

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Accenture and Lendlease have a strategic partnership to develop PPI and scale to the market. Together they are piloting across select buildings globally.

It’s the latest arrival — and perhaps one of the biggest, given Lendlease’s reach — in a wider, ongoing trend of new technologies that can track commercial real estate usage. 

Designed for enterprise-scale commercial properties, the software tool creates personalized insights and recommended actions to inform workspace decisions related to improving space efficiencies and employee satisfaction. 

“We have a lot of domain knowledge on property and smart buildings, so we are able to leverage that knowledge to think through what data is in a building and ready to collect,” said William Ruh, CEO of Lendlease Digital, which is also located in Sydney.

Bill Ruh Podium Lendlease Launches Software Platform to Optimize Office Use
William Ruh. Photo: Joshua Dasey

Pointing to elevator and badging data as examples, Ruh said, “There’s quite a number of different sensors already in the building to give you a feel for the occupancy. [And] an immense amount of data in Office365, specifically in calendaring, to tell you a lot about what’s going on inside the building. We also can use the Wi-Fi systems and additional sensors to get even higher fidelity occupancy data.”

In addition, PPI does “some good old-fashioned surveys, because it turns out people will tell you things, especially if they want things fixed,” Ruh added. He said the company was also experimenting with the use of video in the workplace, but not to identify people or to look at productivity.

“That’s not our goal, but you do want to look at how people are flowing through and start to rethink their needs,” he said, “because the way space was designed three years ago has nothing to do with the way space is going to have to be designed in the future given this hybrid environment.”

Lendlease Digital’s product uses algorithms that can predict “fairly accurately over two weeks how many people are coming into the office, on which days and at which times,” said Ruh. “If you think about providing food for your employees, how do you optimize that so you make sure a lot of it isn’t going to waste and you’re sustainable? These are the kinds of things that we’re able to do through that data integration.”

PPI claims to offer 20 different metrics to drive office improvements — including employee satisfaction, space utilization, health and safety, and sustainability — by creating real-time models for optimal building usage. The software can provide insights and tracking data to forecast workplace trends by combining employee data with predictive information, according to the company.

The platform centralizes and synthesizes real-time data, and then creates user models to address how best to adjust the physical workspace. Flexible work experiences, intentional collaboration opportunities and empathic management can increase employee performance by as much as 54 percent, according to research cited by Lendlease Digital.

Basically, occupiers and owners can see where employees gather, such as around food or in conference rooms, as well as how many days and hours workers spend in the building and in specific locations, said Ruh.

“There are people who we might call ‘event attenders,’ ” he said. “Literally, when they come into the office they spend about two and a half hours, they only come one or two days a week, usually about one and a half days on average. And they come to attend an event, an all-hands or design meeting.”

Lendlease Digital can share such data in real time with owners and property managers, who can use it to create “an agile environment,” capable of being reconfigured for example, “every six months,” Ruh said. “This is the shifting of the workplace for companies in the world.”

Philip Russo can be reached at prusso@commercialobserver.com.