Technology and re-entry: you can’t have one without the other

How technology was at the center of our re-entry plans

Technology was at the heart of our pandemic re-entry strategy, and it was also responsible for powering our accomplishments while many of us worked remotely.    

The first step was making sure that all JLL employees who were able to work from home were tech-enabled. Because secure, remote work was already a part of JLL’s flexible work policies, many people already had the hardware and secure network access they needed to work effectively outside of the office, says Dusty Duistermars, JLL Global Product Owner, Technology & Innovation.  

“With mobile tools and virtual private network access, our brokers and corporate real estate employees are used to having the ability to work from coffee shops, airports, and other off-site locations,” he says. “We can work securely from just about anywhere.”  

Once our people were fully connected, we began to focus on technologies that would ensure  safe re-entry into office buildings — both for us and for our clients. We evaluated policies, reconfigured design and implemented a variety of technology tools that allowed us to safely manage facility operations at varying re-entry levels.  Among them:

  • We leveraged our JLL SPACE CAFM system, a space management platform that allowed us to create social distancing space plans and schedule shifts, ensuring that the number of people in a space at any given time fell within guidelines.
  • We used our online reservations system, FMS Employee, for reserving conference and meeting spaces.  
  • We created a COVID-19 case tracking tool (dashboard) that logged all suspected cases to inform leadership’s decisions about office openings and closures.  In the UK, we built an employee screening tool off of our Workday database to determine eligibility to come into the office.

We have long known that technology is what will propel our business into the future, but to see this play out in real-time was welcome confirmation. We didn’t have a single outbreak of COVID-19 in any of our 137 U.S. offices, which we attribute, at least in large part, to the implementation of these technology tools.

Because our clients’ needs are diverse, we often tested tools beyond what we used in our own organization. For example, some clients were interested in building-level thermal scans that would take employee’s temperatures as they enter the building. Others wanted third-party apps that screen employees with health questions. In our Dallas office, we piloted Bluetooth contact-tracing wearables, where employees wore a lanyard that detects physical proximity and duration, aiding in assessing virus transmission risk. We then were able to share the insights we gleaned during that pilot with clients. 

Creating healthy physical spaces was important to us and to our clients even before COVID-19. But the pandemic reinforced our commitment to providing offices that support the health and well-being of our employees.  

In some offices, we’ve focused specifically on upgrading or adjusting HVAC systems and protocols to improve and monitor indoor air quality (IAQ). In others, we installed intelligent ceiling-based or simple stamp-sized desk occupancy sensors that inform us of actual space utilization to better focus our cleaning efforts. A number of U.S. offices have also leveraged our JLL Jet employee experience app data to clean spaces in advance of future reservations. 

“We have invested in and will continue to invest in safer, healthier spaces and the technology that provides the data to ensure a safe working environment,” Duistermars says.  “Although smart technology is an investment, it can save money and improve employee experience.” 

Our efforts are hardly over. Above and beyond our basic tool stack, a group of 1,500 JLL employees are currently piloting a new product, JLL’s Experience / Anywhere Hub, which contains a variety of work from anywhere resources including ergonomics training, guided wellness content, discounted office furniture and supplies, an Enterprise DoorDash subscription and more. We are excited to use these efforts to help our clients during this time and beyond.  

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