The world of work is changing, and while the office will remain front and center in the workplace ecosystem, more employers will allow flexibility in how and where work gets done. How employers support optimum productivity and engagement for their people across the hybrid work ecosystem demands new thinking and new technology. The physical workplace is an important and integral part of this ecosystem that needs to be actively managed to drive operating efficiencies and minimize the impact on our environment. Occupancy management and planning models that meet this new set of competing demands must also evolve. We are focusing on new approaches to support occupancy within the built environment that maximize the operational efficiency of the workplace and support a highly productive and engaged workforce.
Existing trends, accelerated
Trends toward a more fluid, hybrid world of work began before the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has merely accelerated those underlying trends. For example, pre-pandemic mobility programs introduced a level of unpredictability in space demand that resulted in seat sharing as an alternative to assigned seating allocation methods. Now, as a result of the largest work from home experiment in history, business leaders are recognizing that knowledge workers can get work done in a variety of settings. Increasing mobility and greater user choice will result in a more erratic demand signal (need for office space) on a daily, weekly and longer-term basis. As such, we will need methods, enabled by digitally intense tools, to account for this new micro supply and demand dynamic.
A recent JLL study highlighted that 67 percent of real estate decision makers are increasing workplace mobility programs post-pandemic. People and space tracking tools introduced when assigned seating was the norm were already shifting; however, the pace of change is being fast-tracked to efficiently capture the new metrics that inform decision-making—and to be able to deploy for portfolios of scale. As organizations embark on their journey to shape the workplace, how occupancy is supported will need to adapt to support multiple workstyles simultaneously.
Even with this new mindset and new working habits, it’s become clear that the office still plays a uniquely important function as a place for optimum collaboration, connection and celebration of culture—enabling the kind of interaction that’s essential for productivity and engagement. In fact, an overwhelming number of people—about 75 percent according to a recent JLL study—still see the importance of working in the office. The need to effortlessly connect people and teams when they choose to come into the physical workplace will be amplified. Thinking about and planning for these changes, and other aspects of what will emerge post-pandemic, can’t begin soon enough.
Dynamic planning for a dynamic world
It’s important to look at all aspects of this “next normal” through a client-centric lens that’s laser focused on understanding the emerging opportunities presented by the hybrid workplace ecosystem. We’re undergoing a disciplined approach designed to satisfy occupier needs, improve organizational agility, and enhance user experience to improve human performance and employee engagement. It’s also important to maximize utilization on both a short- and long-term basis and integrate into the broader portfolio optimization process. The results we’re seeing thus far are promising—decreased OPEX costs and lower carbon emissions are two positive outcomes.
Obviously, there’s more to this new fluid work ecosystem than time split between the office and remote.
The nomadic nature of people’s jobs is emerging. This is where the hotelification of the workplace comes into play—not just in terms of the hospitality-inspired experiential elements emerging in our workplaces, but through the adaptation of methods and technologies tailored to meet the future demands of occupancy management in the workplace. Along the same vein, we believe a frictionless workplace is essential for the future of work. With robust digital tools that allow users to self-move, reserve spaces and utilize digital wayfinding, we can shift our thinking from “control” to “enablement,” empowering our employees with better work-life balance.
Changing work habits impact not just how many people are in an office at any given time; they also impact why people choose to come into the office, what they want to accomplish and with whom. Testing different space allocation and seat assignment approaches creates a dynamic solution that can be configured to meet your needs wherever you are on your journey. We can effectively support traditional workstyles through to the most progressive.
Workpoint and portfolio utilization are essential to provide foundational data sets to achieve both efficient management of occupancy within the built environment, and to provide actionable insights needed to drive portfolio optimization and workplace transformation initiatives. It’s not enough to simply visualize and analyze data—our research shows that we need to help clients “get the data” in a non-capital-intensive way. We’re able to convert micro data to macro data to provide a holistic view of portfolio utilization—which is simply show up rates or attendance. This ability elegantly transitions the solution to support strategic occupancy planning, workplace and portfolio initiatives.
Planning for tomorrow won’t work with yesterday’s tools
Trying to provide small fixes to traditional occupancy models won’t work to meet these needs. There is a need for innovative thinking while increasing the digital intensity of delivery models that will allow the industry to enable new methods, and at the same time, improve consistency in operations.
As part of our exploration, we’re experimenting with technology that helps us go beyond space bookings and reservations in the quest to better control the ebbs and flows of people into a space to manage oversubscription to space and drive collaboration. Transforming the occupancy planning journey is achieved in part by significant cycle-time reductions during key steps in the process. One such area is streamlining the requirements gathering and workplace programming step by taking advantage of the digital output of other software platforms.
The time for a paradigm shift is now
Forward-looking organizations will utilize an always-on space optimization solution that optimizes real estate expenses and reduces environmental impact while enhancing employee experience. As space needs change and how people work in the office continually evolves, precise, real-time response to those demands will become more critical to the performance of each employee, and to the organization as a whole. The greater your ability to anticipate and respond to shifts in occupancy needs, the greater your long-term operational efficiency will become.
To learn more about planning a hybrid workplace, visit our website.