Why technology-
enabled real estate
will outlast the
coronavirus pandemic

Finding space no longer has to be time-consuming, carbon-intensive and expensive

June 05, 2020

When I, along with other JLL leaders, designed a strategy three years ago to revolutionize the tenant representation process with technology, we had no idea how fast and how thoroughly COVID-19 would transform our business and test our capabilities as a tech-enabled real estate brokerage firm.

In early 2017, we huddled together around a white board in Chicago and plotted what it would take to build in-house tools that allow tenants to find and configure space virtually, avoiding the most time-consuming, carbon-intensive and expensive stages of the process. We wanted to use virtual reality, advanced data analytics and 3D software to deliver an innovative, automated and more sustainable JLL tenant experience.

Our goal has always been to solve the next generation of challenges. We worked with our partners around the globe to change an old-school experience into a new digital, flexible, virtual one, adapting to the speed at which we do business.

Innovation is ingrained in who we are as a company, dating back to Roger Staubach, one of the greatest innovators in our business. He started his own commercial real estate business before retiring as a star NFL quarterback, and disrupted the industry by asking a simple question, “Why aren’t tenants represented?”

That question invented an entirely new industry — tenant representation — that has grown into a $100 billion business. The Staubach Company merged with JLL in 2008, setting the foundation of JLL’s tenant advocacy ethos.

Finding space in minutes

Twelve years later, we are reimagining the business that Staubach invented by using technology to empower our clients to make data-driven decisions. This access to information allows them to make choices better and faster.

This automated process dramatically shrinks the three to four months it usually takes tenants to gather the information needed to select, lease and configure a space. Instead of taking hours or even days to scout locations by car or on foot, we immerse tenants in a 3D tour of multiple properties in a fraction of the time, which also reduces the carbon footprint of the process immensely.

The “JLL Tenant Experience” compresses the first three-fourths of the process to as little as half an hour. Virtual reality shows where amenities and transit stops are in relation to potential spaces, and our tools calculate various commute times, labor costs, macroeconomic data and more. Our technology can quickly build 3D space plans to show companies how different layouts serve their needs. This saves time, reduces cost and mitigates risk while allowing for business continuity planning.

The coronavirus pandemic and space planning

JLL’s technology is dedicated not only to reshaping the tenant experience but also to shaping the future of work. Nothing about the workplace will be the same in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Our technology helps make the next normal safe and efficient.

For example, we use business intelligence tools to show tenants how a space is being used, allowing them to make decisions that serve the employee experience based on real-time data. During our current crisis, this helps employers that are reopening offices ensure physical distancing guidelines are followed, while allowing employees to connect socially.

Clients who recently used the JLL Tenant Experience told us they won’t completely go back to the way things were before the pandemic. These tools are enabling the continuity of business; saving them time and money; helping them keep their employees safe; and reducing their carbon footprint. Like making the jump to paperless, going back would be tedious and unacceptable.

Had someone told us when we started this process that there would be a time in the near future where no one could safely meet physically, we wouldn’t have believed them. But here we are with the technology tools needed right at the moment our clients need it most.

Steve Ramseur is Chief Innovation Officer, JLL, Americas