Intel relies on smart buildings in Israel to attract technical talent

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Intel invests heavily in "smart buildings" in Israel that offer many benefits to keep employees happy and help the US chip maker compete for the best professionals in the country.

Intel, one of the largest employers and exporters in Israel, announced in 2019 that the company would invest $ 11 billion (around 78,000 rupees) to build a manufacturing facility in the country where some of its most advanced technologies were developed.

Israel is home to more startups per capita than any other country. Thanks to its advanced military and government support, Israel is suffering from a lack of talent. While multinational corporations such as Intel, Apple and Google have snapped up local startups and set up research centers, the competition has made it difficult to find skilled workers.

According to start-up National Central, a non-profit research organization, tech companies in Israel were unable to fill around 17,000 jobs in 2018, and that number continues to grow.

In order to close this gap and attract talent, Intel has increased its efforts in its new development center in Petah Tikva, a suburb of Tel Aviv. The structure is equipped with environmentally friendly systems, an elegant gym and a massage parlor and has 14,000 sensors that monitor movement, light and air to ensure that employees feel comfortable.

If these efforts give Intel a head start in hiring, competing companies are expected to follow suit. "Anything you offer as a perk, whether it's gym membership or a paperless work environment or extra days off for maternity leave or a go-green policy, all of these things will help you," said David Gantshar, managing director of California-based Shepherd Search Group.

Intel Israel Reuters Full Intel

The employees use the space in the "Smart Building" from Intel in Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv, Israel

The box-shaped, 10-storey building from Intel is clad with glass and offers space for up to 2,700 of the 13,000 employees on site. The company declined to comment on how much it spent on the development center. Israeli media reported costs of ILS 650 million ($ 188 million).

David Hareli, Afcon's deputy CEO, who built the building, said it was a challenge to complete the project within Intel's three-year plan. Originally designed for seven floors, Intel asked to add three floors. When the contract was signed, Intel asked for LEED platinum certification, the highest standard for environmentally friendly designs and not the lower gold content.

This required a double facade to improve ventilation and prevent the building from heating up under the strong Middle Eastern sun.

Architect Dagan Mochli, who designed the building, said he was working on a new development center for Intel in the northern city of Haifa, which will also be smart and LEED Platinum. He called the construction of Intel a "breakthrough", with growing customer demand for similar structures. He is planning a 15,000 square meter bank campus in Israel and a 240,000 square meter smart biotech park in China.

Smart travel
The building has an open space format. An atrium in the middle is covered with skylights and covers the five top floors. Health-conscious employees often use the internal stairs in the atrium instead of the elevator

For those looking for seclusion, there are small soundproofed rooms and soundproofed armchairs near the windows. The 14,000 sensors – twice as many as in similar buildings – detect when someone enters a room and control the lighting and air conditioning.

For example, when the carbon dioxide level increases, fresh air is supplied to maintain people's energy. The sensors and app can also help employees find the best way to and from work and let them know which of the three restaurants in the building has space during lunch. Employees can use the app to inform other employees about their whereabouts.

Not everyone was enthusiastic about the new work area. Some employees anonymously complained about lack of privacy on an Israeli news website. Intel Israel CEO Yaniv Garty said the tracking and collection of data is done on an opt-in basis.

"We don't ask people to get in or out. We believe in a relationship based on output," said Garty.

Ido Melamed, a hardware engineer who has worked at Intel for 16 years, moved from an office with cabins to the new building. He said the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. "We'll see each other, we can speak more openly and work together more effectively," said Melamed. "There is real trust between the company and its employees that the (collected) data is used for the right purposes."

© Thomson Reuters 2020