By Martin Brooker
Rising real estate expenses. Empty desks and meeting rooms. A workforce with constantly changing work patterns.
In a nutshell, these appear to be today’s top workspace challenges. And together, they are costing companies — small, medium, and large — much more than just money. Firms are also losing valuable time and the critical collaboration needed to keep them competitive in their industry. Today’s technology, especially the use of cloud-based offerings, is making the transformation of a firm’s workspace to an asset from a liability easier and more affordable. But there are a few essentials for ensuring such a change is done successfully as companies create their future workplaces.
Having worked with hundreds of companies worldwide on using advanced technology to optimize office space, there are three key areas — the three “Es” — to keep in mind when initiating or expanding a work environment transformation.
Employee Focused: Is the technology going to help employees be more productive?
Ease of Implementation and Integration: Is start-up simplified?
Economical: Will the technology selected contribute to keeping costs down?
Before expanding on these essentials for an effective workspace solution, let’s take a moment to provide some credibility to the challenges identified.
First, there has been a sustained rise in prices of commercial real estate over the past seven years¹. And, while the rate of increase may be slowing slightly in more recent years and vary by particular markets, the overall trend is still increasing, not decreasing.
Second, while most businesses assume their office space is used 60-70% of the time, the average is only 39%, while the average time desks are occupied is just 38%.
Third is the ongoing change in a company’s workforce. As supported by the above occupancy percentages, much of today’s workforce is only in the office for a portion of the work week. Some work remotely and are only on-site when required for a meeting; some work part-time, others are traveling between offices or customers, and some employees, while full-time, are working flexible schedules to better balance family or commuting needs.
Sound familiar? Here’s how to build a strong, cloud-based solution to address these workplace trends.
Start By Being Employee-Focused
Despite a declining on-site presence, the workplace is still where most employees spend the majority of their time. How they respond to that environment has a significant impact on their productivity, job satisfaction, and well-being. So making it inviting and easy to use is important.
To do so, workplace and workspace technology tools need to provide employees comprehensive and self-service capabilities. This means one can do it all whether that be book a desk in a “hot desk/desk hoteling” environment, schedule rooms and related services for a meeting across continents and time zones, or conduct a video conference with ease of technology integration. One must be able to do it all in a one-stop app or platform that is familiar to employees.
Employee-focused features must include the ability to make it easy for individuals to connect with the colleagues needed to do one’s job well. Workplace offerings that simplify collaboration lead to less wasted time in setting up a collaborative environment and more time sharing information and insights, usually with much greater frequency.
Mobility is another key component in modernizing the workplace. Today’s on-the-go, part-time or remote workforce must be able to use the workspace management tools that facility management deploys from anywhere at anytime. This requires offering a mobile app compatible with the systems employees are already using so they can schedule, change, or cancel the desk or meeting space they’ve arranged from their mobile phone, laptop, or other device.
Finally, flexible, open spaces — made possible by advanced technology tools for hot desking and meeting management — are the new normal for most workers. Companies that eliminate physical boundaries, such as partitions, cubicles, and offices make cross-functional working easier while at the same time create a modern, high-tech environment that attracts today’s top talent.
Make Implementation Easy
Companies transforming their workplace through innovative technology should seek out those offerings with easy implementation for IT organizations and employees, alike. That’s where cloud-based services have a big advantage. These minimize integration with existing systems. Plug-and-play implementation is available for some services that make start-up almost immediate.
Intuitive, self-service or simplified, on-site training is another essential element for a successful workplace transformation. If the technology tools are difficult to begin using, employees will revert to the older way of doing things just so they can get their job done.
To augment implementation efforts, sufficient communications and a professional services support team should be available from the technology provider to ensure seamless transition to the new system.
Choose Technology To Be Future-Proof
Equally important for a successful workplace transformation is how economical an investment is over both the near and long term. Managed services are on the rise for all types of technology infrastructure. Companies do not want to bog down valuable IT resources or maintain a complexity of infrastructure investments. Nor do they want to purchase technologies that can quickly become obsolete given the rapid pace of new innovations in the marketplace.
Cloud-based infrastructure technologies minimize start-up costs and increase a firm’s current and future flexibility to easily increase scale and add capabilities. By using open architecture systems, integrating with legacy systems as well as taking advantage of tomorrow’s innovations becomes much easier. Advanced technologies such as RFID readers and Beacon should be built-in (not add-ons or upgrades) to help future-proof the investment.
Finally, when making a workspace transformation with cloud-based tools, make sure to select a provider that offers a steady stream of enhancements to its products to ensure your system stas current with the latest improvements and enriched capabilities. Are the vendor’s developers continuously working to make the workspace solution designed for your company better? Are software updates done frequently and over-the-air so they are cost-effective and not disruptive?
Recent Condeco research and surveys indicate that most companies plan to increase their spending on workspace solutions, many of them significantly. It makes sense: Workplace transformations help firms gain operational efficiencies, improve employee productivity, and create an environment that attracts top talent and increases job satisfaction.
All of these elements — employee-focused, ease of implementation, and integration and economical for the near and long term — are essential in determining the true value of the workspace technology solution selected to drive a business forward.
¹ “Are Commercial Real Estate Prices On Shaky Ground,” by Calvin Schnure, March 5, 2018
Brooker is chief sales officer for Condeco, a provider of software and hardware products designed to maximize the efficiency and enhance the productivity of workspaces. He has more than 25 years of experience in the IT hardware, software, and services industry, including managing global enterprise relationships. Brooker’s experience includes -international executive management positions, and he has led teams across EMEA, ASIAPAC, and the Americas at organizations such as Computacenter Plc, MCI, and Macrovision (Rovi Corp.)