The events of the past 16 months have accelerated enterprise-level technology adoption exponentially. Much of this innovation has happened out of necessity. Lockdowns have forced businesses to digitise their operations, sales streams, employee management, and communication.
Over the past year, forward-thinking businesses have focused on the role of technology in designing spaces fit for future use, as both employee and business needs change.
According to Gartner, in the coming years, nearly one in three organisations will gain a competitive advantage from their ability to exploit emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and analytics. In our world of FM and workplace, this advantage is likely to come from the connection between people, technology, and data.
This journey should begin with a checklist of five core pillars.
Space management: In a CBRE Future of the Office survey last autumn, 60 per cent of corporate real estate leaders said they were aggressively pursuing “contraction, consolidation, or exit plans” as a result of the pandemic. A space management tool allows you to monitor real-time occupancy, helping to determine exactly how much space you can afford to sell, lease, or convert. As capacity changes within a more fluid hybrid workplace model, a space management system may also enable you to adjust flexible seating arrangements in line with demand.
Employee experience: The enthusiasm to return to work will soon dissipate if the office environment offers little else than an opportunity to socialise.
In a hybrid or flexible workplace, an excellent employee experience means providing people with more mobility and choice. Employees will need spaces for different activities, such as quiet areas for concentration work, huddle spaces for quick or informal collaboration, and places to relax or recharge. To create this kind of multifaceted, frictionless experience, companies should think about integrating digital wayfinding, signage, and room/service booking systems while allowing employees to access these tools through mobile apps.
Analytics: Good data allows you to make accurate workplace decisions at the level of detail you require. This could mean divesting whole floors or simply eliminating individual workstations for more collaborative space. By analysing the data from occupancy sensors or desk reservations, for example, you can determine real-time occupancy and ensure that you always have enough capacity for demand.
However, many companies operate with multiple software systems, making it difficult to analyse this kind of data. Integrating these through a single source not only consolidates this information in one location but also allows different stakeholders to get exactly what they need from the data. An HR manager may want to ascertain the number of available desks before moving or onboarding employees. Alternatively, a facilities manager may need to see which desks have been used to determine where their team should clean.
Integrations: It’s impossible to collect good data if there’s no integration between your workplace technology and the critical systems that power your operations. Some of the most common challenges include inheriting old legacy systems after an acquisition or colleagues turning to their own solutions when things go wrong. These instances impede your ability to uncover a single point of truth for trusted workplace data and then make intelligent property, FM or workplace decisions. By integrating IT, FM and HR systems, you can reduce costs per square footage, shorten service request response times, and improve the employee experience by making adjustments to the office space.
Operations: The standard and reliability of your operations – whether it’s energy use, cleaning, service requests, visitor management or office moves – impacts both your employee experience and your bottom line. The right technology solutions allow you to tick both of these boxes. Giving employees the ability to submit service requests through something like a mobile app ensures that issues are dealt with quickly, causing minimal disruption and ensuring productivity doesn’t dip unnecessarily. Organisations have a unique opportunity to step back and truly evaluate how they can strengthen their strategic approach and stay ahead of the competition. So, the question is: where are you on your workplace maturity journey?