Can AI revolutionize office space design?

Data-driven analysis is capturing the fast-changing needs of hybrid work models

August 31, 2023

The advent of hybrid work has prompted organizations to embrace the flexibility of remote and in-office work.

But companies are struggling with the best way to design space that meets the needs of hybrid employees that utilize the office for varying purposes.

Enter artificial intelligence, which is emerging as a powerful tool in redefining workplace design.

Researchers at JLL recently explored how AI will reshape commercial real estate, emphasizing its potential for experience-driven design and highly customizable environmental settings. AI can enhance collaboration, productivity, and well-being by analyzing data on employee movement and interaction. By utilizing this information, it can suggest designs that promote efficient layouts, ultimately leading to increased employee satisfaction and reduced costs.

“With the rise of hybrid work models, companies want to know how their future office spaces will be used,” says JLL’s Jaymie Gelino, chief operating officer at JLL’s Project and Development Services (PDS). “JLL has decades of real-estate date, AI provides us with valuable data insights, and we can use our own AI tools to programs to lean into designing spaces that meet workforce needs, and promote a healthy work environment that achieves sustainability goals through smart design.

AI and workplace design

By collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data, AI provides companies with insights into how people are using an office, from traffic flows to employee preferences.

Take technologies like sensors, beacons, and other smart building systems that arm companies with empirical evidence that allows for data-driven decisions. By monitoring employee usage of various office areas, businesses can identify underutilized spaces, which can then be repurposed to encourage collaboration and creativity.

But the sheer amount of data that occupancy tracking systems gather can be daunting. AI helps crunch the numbers. It analyzes occupancy data to devise space programming strategies, ensuring efficient and purposeful space allocation for increased productivity and employee satisfaction.

AI also enhances the employee experience and well-being. Advanced visualization tools, such as AI-generated 3D visual walkthroughs, transcend traditional layouts and enable remote team members to experience proposed office designs as if they were physically present, fostering greater engagement and a stronger sense of belonging.

Looking ahead, Gelino envisions AI playing a significant role in creating hybrid workspaces that accommodate both in-person and virtual collaboration.

“Analyzing data on workforce habits and preferences, AI lays out spaces that incorporate necessary technology and meeting rooms for effective collaboration, aligning shared spaces with desired company culture and enhancing employee collaboration,” she says.

Enhancing employee experience and well-being

In the hybrid work model, the office becomes a central hub for fostering a sense of belonging and company culture. AI-driven climate control systems adapt temperature and lighting preferences based on individual habits, ensuring maximum comfort and energy efficiency. Additionally, AI-powered feedback systems gather anonymous employee input, helping identify pain points and driving necessary improvements.

AI’s data analytics capabilities empower organizations to make informed decisions about office space usage. By analyzing historical data on employees’ in-office presence, AI predicts future workspace requirements, leading to adaptable office designs that flexibly accommodate varying employee needs, whether for collaboration, focused work, or team meetings.

“As hybrid work reshapes the traditional office concept, AI emerges as a critical enabler in redefining workplace design,” Gelino says. Utilizing AI-driven data insights, organizations create dynamic and flexible office spaces that cater to the evolving needs of their hybrid workforce. Enhanced visualization tools foster collaboration among remote and in-office employees, reinforcing a sense of connection and inclusion. AI’s predictive capabilities enable proactive decisions, ensuring office spaces remain efficient and adaptable to evolving work patterns.

AI challenges in revolutionizing office design

As AI transforms office design, challenges lie in mastering creativity and ensuring that the design aligns with the architectural drawings, specifications, and relevant building codes. Architectural accuracy is crucial in creating accurate and reliable visualizations, models, and construction plans for architectural projects.

“While AI excels at data-driven insights, its ability to generate original creative design ideas remains a work in progress,” she says. “Translating AI-generated designs into architecturally accurate plans requires refinement.”

For example, Gelino says that using a search engine to look up JLL’s Chicago headquarters at AON center, and you’ll quickly find how many floors it has, ceiling height, and the floor plans. And that is the base of the model AI will use to start to generate a floor plan. 

“When you think about it in the future, though, it needs to understand the design's needs, whether it’s driving collaboration, and you want to understand, creatively, how people will be using the space in the future,” she says. “I think that would be the next level of what AI has to achieve because all the rest is there.”

Looking for more insights? Never miss an update.

The latest news, insights and opportunities from global commercial real estate markets straight to your inbox.