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Nilesh Parmar

Business Area Director, Places

The way we use technology has changed dramatically in the past year, as staying connected has been more important than ever before. In fact, a shift towards a more digital way of life was expected in the next eight years but it has been hugely accelerated by numerous lockdowns. Here’s how technology is transforming my daily life, making my role as Business Area Director more efficient and effective. I can’t emphasize enough how the digital shift has changed the way I work.


Staying connected

A digital approach has also changed the way we work as a leadership team, and despite the distance and inability to travel during lockdowns, we’ve collaborated more than ever before. As well as being able to work closely with colleagues in different parts of the country, through video calls I’ve also been able to work more closely with our global team. Interactions are more fluid, and the barriers of geography have disappeared. We are truly one team. Long gone are the days when people would travel to the local office to be noticed – now you just need to be on the right calls.


Processes shifting to digital

Using tools and systems such as smart buildings technology has made the ability to analyze company information quicker and easier than ever before with good quality data at our fingertips. Before that, it was very difficult to make efficient, informed decisions and would often require guess work. For example, our travel data is now readily available whereas before I would have contacted numerous colleagues to receive the relevant data for a travel report. Now I can click on our dashboard and I’m able to access the required information. Ultimately, the data’s purpose is to create a richer experience for colleagues and the business.

With the rise of digital products in the market, and Arcadis’ Building Intelligence app soon to be available in the US, my new day at work when I’m in the Arlington office will look something like this:

  • Wake up, review my schedule for the day on my phone and load my Metro ticket on SmarTrip.
  • Reserve a meeting room using the Building Intelligence app, created by Arcadis, which will automatically be shared with colleagues/clients attending the meeting.
  • Arcadis’ Arlington office has many types of workstations, so I’ll make the most of this by booking a private space for when I need to quietly focus on a presentation, a call booth for my private calls, and meeting rooms for collaborative work.
  • I’ll make sure I use my Buildings Intelligence app to arrange refreshments for my client meetings.
  • Hop into my electric car which takes me to the Metro station and automatically finds me a parking space.
  • Get to the office and my coffee is waiting for me, which I ordered via the Building Intelligence app during my Metro journey.
  • I need to find a colleague, so I use the app to find out where they are, rather than wasting time wandering around the building.
  • I’ve spent a lot of the day sitting so far, so I book a standing desk for my afternoon Teams calls, then use the Teams app on my phone to take one of my informal calls while on a walk around the block to get some exercise.

There is a real opportunity to drive innovation and more widespread technological adoption in our industry, which is long overdue. Proptech – ‘property technology’ – solutions adoption is likely to take off at an exponential rate over the next five years, with acceptance of tech-driven transformation much more widely accepted than previously experienced. We are fully embracing newly developed in-house technology ourselves.

Previously, people had seen Proptech as a threat to jobs, but as understanding of its benefits grows, it is becoming more accepted. After all, with integrated systems, we still need electricians. Jobs in the value chain aren’t being replaced, we just need to do things differently. In the banking world, Fintech had a similar response during its early adoption, but clearly mobile banking hasn’t replaced the jobs of people working in large retail banks. As a result, the fear of people losing jobs through Fintech has dissipated, but the construction industry needs to catch up and develop a growth mindset.

It’s clear that the rise of digital products and solutions and engagement within our industry are going to become paramount with the way assets are used, operated and maintained. Now is the time to adapt and be ready for an ever-more digital future.