How Building Owners Can Navigate Labor Disruptions with Technology and Data

By Travis Barrington

Around 1,500 janitors in South Florida just voted to authorize a strike when their contract expires on February 29th, potentially impacting 77 percent of office buildings in Downtown Miami and Fort Lauderdale. This situation, echoing similar challenges like the one in New York City last year, highlights the complex landscape of labor relations facing commercial building owners. 

If the strike, or the threat of a strike, is successful in creating wage increases, it would make running a building more costly and further hurt the profitability during an already difficult time for offices. This will be a win for labor in the short run but could also push building owners to invest in automation technology to strategically offset labor costs. Buildings have already automated routine tasks like lighting control, temperature regulation, and security access. With the rise of robotics and AI, this is likely just the beginning of what will become automated. 

That being said, building owners should acknowledge the increasing skill building teams need to maintain these automated systems. Those who can learn to operate and manage complex building automation systems deserve competitive compensation. These individuals play a vital role in ensuring smooth building operations, and their skills will become even more sought-after as automation becomes more prevalent.

To further navigate potential operational disruptions, be it labor or any other kind, building owners can benefit from a deeper understanding of their building’s systems. Implementing integrated data management platforms that collect and analyze information from various building systems, including automation software, energy consumption data, and occupancy sensors, can provide valuable insights.

Having access to this data empowers building owners to identify areas for operational improvement, such as optimizing cleaning schedules, energy usage, and space utilization. They can also develop contingency plans for potential disruptions by identifying critical tasks, staff skill sets, and resource dependencies. Data-driven insights allow building owners to make informed decisions about automation, choosing technologies that offer the most significant cost savings and operational efficiency benefits specific to their building’s needs.

The narrowly averted New York building workers strike and the potential South Florida janitorial strike should serve as a wake-up call for building owners across the industry. By recognizing the value of skilled labor, leveraging automation strategically, and embracing data-driven insights, building owners can navigate potential labor disruptions more readily while improving their building operations and efficiency.

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🌱 Generous: Generative AI has already started to shape industries like media but now asset managers are starting to put it to use for their portfolios.

👋 Anywho: After posting disappointing earnings Anywhere Real Estate has undergone a change in leadership and appointed a Chief Technology Officer.

💰 New money: Simetric, an automation technology for CFOs, has raised $55 million in a Series B round led by Goldman Sachs.

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