By Stephanie O'Neill

The top 5 questions keeping CRE leaders up at night

Work stress can cause corporate real estate (CRE) leaders to toss and turn. How can you stop your work from following you home?

It starts by considering what keeps you up at night. When you can’t sleep, are you thinking about questions you can’t answer? Will the responses to these unanswered questions impact your employees and the bottom line?

Consider some of the most pressing questions that prevent CRE leaders from getting a good night’s sleep—and what can be done about them. (Hint: Having the right data helps.)

1. “Which piece of equipment or building system will fail next?”

When you don’t know which building systems are underperforming, it’s hard to predict when they may fail. This lack of information makes it difficult to plan and budget for maintenance, upgrades, and replacements—and puts employee satisfaction at risk when systems go down without warning.

Asset performance data can reveal how well a building system (e.g., lighting, HVAC, etc.) does its job, its overall health, and what it costs your organization. This data also takes into consideration a system’s current age and condition, necessary maintenance and upgrades, energy usage, and operating patterns.

With this information in hand, you can recognize when a piece of equipment or system isn’t performing like it should be, predict potential failure, minimize emergency repair work, and extend asset life.

You can also use asset performance and work order data to analyze which systems have been experiencing frequent issues (indicated by the number of work orders), so you can prepare accordingly.

2. “Our building is starting to feel crowded. Where do we need to improve our use of space?”

If you don’t know how many people use the square footage inside your building—or how many square feet are available per person—then it’s difficult to ensure that the space is being used as efficiently as possible.

How do you know when an area is overcrowded—or nearly empty—if you don’t know how space is being used?

Real-time data on workplace density reveals which zones or spaces are over- or under-utilized, so you can make adjustments as needed. Are the hoteling areas in one facility becoming crowded, because they’re used more than assigned workstations? If so, maybe the workstations need to be repurposed and reconfigured. When density levels are consistently high, productivity levels and employee satisfaction may suffer. (A BOMA study reveals the “sweet spot” for workplace density.)

If density levels in certain spaces are consistently low, further analysis can be done to find out why the spaces aren’t being used. Are they no longer needed? Are they uncomfortable? Is something broken? Once you pinpoint why utilization is low, you can make necessary changes so the spaces are usable again—or let them go at the end of the lease term if they’re no longer needed.

3. “Are we spending money on under-performing vendors?”

You invest a lot in third-party relationships with service providers—everything from pest control and janitorial services to security and grounds maintenance. But how do you know if you’re getting the maximum value and ROI from these partnerships? How do the providers you chose compare with others?

When you have data about the performance of your service providers—as well as data on what similar properties in your area spend on these services—you can easily pinpoint the providers that deliver the most benefit in terms of response time, quality, and cost. You can also use service-provider data to establish benchmarks and determine whether performance deteriorates, improves, or remains consistent over time.

In addition, performance data helps you identify below- and above-average providers, so you can make informed decisions about which ones you want to continue partnerships with—and which ones need to enhance performance if they want to continue providing their services to you.

4. “How many emergency work orders currently need attention?”

If you don’t know how many work orders your team receives during a specific time period—or how quickly they’re being handled—then how can you know whether employee concerns and facility problems are being addressed in a timely manner? Do you know how many of these work orders need immediate attention before small problems turn into bigger, more expensive issues?

Understanding how many work orders—and what types—your team manages at any given point helps you make informed staffing decisions and tells you which building systems need attention. When a specific facility sees a sudden increase in work order volume for a certain system (a major increase in hot/cold calls, for example), this may indicate a concern that requires further investigation before it negatively impacts employee productivity or operating costs.

Real-time data also allows you to benchmark work orders over time to identify trends (e.g., certain times of the day, month, or year when volume increases) or compare year over year to see if volume is increasing or decreasing.

5. “Do we experience more moves, adds, and changes than a typical building of our size and type?”

It may seem like your team spends a lot of time completing work related to moves, adds, and changes—but how do you know for sure? And what’s the reason behind all these moves, adds, and changes? Are there certain environments or layouts that are no longer working for employees?

If you have access to data that tells you how often employees move or change their workspaces, you can use the information to track how churn fluctuates over time. Keeping churn rates under control is key to keeping expenses in check. If churn increases over time, this could be a sign that business requirements and goals are changing—and workspaces may need to be re-evaluated.

Market data from similar properties can also help alleviate concerns about whether or not your team members are spending too much time on moves, adds, and changes. If they are, then it’s time to take a closer look at what’s going on behind the scenes.

Getting the answers you need

Having access to real-time CRE data may be all you need to get a good night’s rest.

Schedule a meeting with our real estate technology experts to see how a purpose-built application for CRE business intelligence can help you solve data challenges in a different way.

An intelligent solution provides built-in, real-time market data and benchmarking insights in one platform, so you can understand what your numbers mean and how they compare to your peers. And with all the information you need to make empowered strategic and operational decisions, you can finally get some sleep!