Offices around the world have been slowly opening in 2021, with more expected in 2022. And depending on where your organization is based, the process may or may not be entirely painless. With so many working from home, organizations have been laser-focused on improving existing spaces rather than expanding their physical footprint. “Return to work” initiatives passed down from leadership have caused a surge in data and software being leveraged in the workplace with the research firm Gartner noting the growth of smarter, more scalable AI along with data analytics being a core business function and key trend this year.1
By now, most organizations understand that occupancy, booking, capacity, and environmental metric data can be accurately measured using occupancy sensors paired with a space analytics dashboard. Industry leaders expect the usage of data analytics as a key aspect of workplace and real estate decision-making to continue expanding, however the way this data is meaningfully applied is still a point most organizations are still honing. Some questions we often get from leaders and workplace strategists are:
- How relevant is the data?
- What do we do with this data?
- How can we translate this into an impactful ROI?
- Can these insights improve employee experience?
- How does this data help us accomplish the goals of our workplace strategy?
There may not be a pre-canned response to address all these concerns, however, taking a twofold approach to apply space insights in a manner that benefits both real estate stakeholders as well as end users is paramount to overall business success.
Supporting Facilities & Real Estate
Organizational teams responsible for managing the space and resources of employees are a natural first fit for receiving the benefits of data and space analytics. Facilities managers, workplace strategists, and real estate leaders typically hold strategy calls with technology vendors and consulting partners (such as JLL, CBRE, or Unwork) to identify relevant data to be measured within their footprint and ensure it aligns with organizational goals. Teams are created to build customized reports, establish regular touchpoints, and determine the criteria for a powerful ROI to measure success. Some of the most common cases leading to such an ROI include:
- Identify popular, high-use area types for a new buildout
- Determine the capacity needs for new meeting rooms
- Understand when, where, and how many employees are coming into the office
- Allow for expansion/contraction of workstations to meet employee needs
- Transition custodial and other facilities services to usage-based vs time-based scheduling
Empowering Employees Directly
Installing sensors and arming corporate real estate and facilities teams with meaningful data is a logical place to start your digital transformation, but what about the rest of the employees who are using the space regularly? Employee experience is a key component to greater workplace strategy, organizational growth, and overall wellbeing—one that cannot be overlooked. Several experts have noted in 2021 employee research that not only have recent work-from-home trends caused employers to shift their focus to company culture going forward, but also that technology has become a critical component to creating and sustaining positive employee experiences.2 Below are a few key manners in which an IoT-enabled workplace can improve employee experience:
- Enable easy mobile desk booking both on-the-fly and days in advance
- Empower employees to find and secure the proper space for their desired mode of work—whether focus work, collaborative, or tasks that require specific technology
- Give employees information on the “busyness” of a building or floor via real-time heat maps before they even leave their home
- Allow for seamless digital delivery of feedback on cleanliness, comfortability, or general issues within a given space
- Support distribution of important company updates and department location via branded company app
The Value of a Twofold Approach
Many times, decision-makers can become paralyzed by deciding whether to prioritize the needs of the bulk of their employees or the space as an asset itself. Real estate is no more valuable an investment than the people who live and breathe in the space on a daily basis. At AVUITY, we believe that a powerful, effective approach to the digital transformation of the workplace is one that equally emphasizes workplace strategy along with the betterment of employee experience. We help our customers accomplish both these goals through the use of a single platform that leverages data to improve the lives of users in both cases. We equip facility managers with the data to build a detailed understanding of their space without undercutting the need for end users to harness that same data to find the spaces they need and improve their experiences, contributing to a healthier culture.
No single organization has an airtight “return to work” strategy—most are still experimenting on workplace practices and continually making adjustments as situations evolve and new factors emerge. The key to success isn’t knowing every issue your organization faces and how to overcome them—that would be unrealistic—but rather to arm your team with the proper tools and secure a long-term partner who is willing to be flexible and grow with you. No one has all the answers, but we are here to help you find them.