WeWork is Revolutionizing the Way Businesses Think About Their Corporate Workplace
When we consider an office, we traditionally think of it as a physical space: a building or floor and the tables, chairs, filing cabinets, and other furniture that fill it; an office is an entirely physical entity rather than an interactive space. But with the rising popularity of space-management businesses like WeWork, the idea of the traditional corporate office is shifting away from real estate and facilities toward agility and experience.
So too, has the department responsible for workspace management changed. In the past, a facilities manager focused on the tangible items; now IT and human resource departments are involved in how space is serving a company and its workforce. Facilities managers will continue to manage the physical aspects in an office, while IT team members will build systems that keep all the company’s office-related data in one place and the human resource team monitors the data to better understand employee satisfaction.
When we talk about an office being agile and experiential, what we’re really talking about is the needs of your workforce. No two employees are the same, nor is one person the same on Monday as they are on Tuesday. Each day and each person pose new challenges for which a business must be equipped. This might include the option to work remotely or in a satellite office; it may also include a choice between a standing or sitting desk, couch or quiet room.
Be a Little Needy
Catering to every employee’s individual needs can seem exceedingly difficult and cost prohibitive—unless you have the data and technology to make it happen. The reason WeWork is such a popular place for individuals to work is their effective use of data and technology to create a fun, compelling experience. Every aspect of a person’s experience in their facilities is managed through an app; it begins when the individual enters, signaling that their membership is active that day. It continues on to track which desks and conference areas are popular among particular people or businesses; their frequency of use in both number of days and times of day; and how frequently they move between the different locations around the world.
It may feel invasive, knowing when and where an individual is sitting and how often, but this data allows companies using similar Space-as-a-Service models to improve users’ daily lives. But first, users need to feel empowered to make their own decisions.
The User as Master
It’s sometimes an awkward process for an employee to express their workspace needs—most people do not want to be perceived as the difficult employee. But not having what you need to work effectively and, perhaps worse, not knowing how to get what you need can sow dissatisfaction. This is why apps like the one used by WeWork is important to help a person curate their own work experience. The success of these platforms is driving many enterprises to prioritize delivering the same central but agile experience in their own corporate offices.
Whether you work in a co-working site or in your company’s office, employees have a strong desire to move around, find a conference room, or just huddle with fellow employees. However, the ability to find an open desk or conference room does not easily exist. Companies like Teem, SpaceIQ, and Robin are providing software and employee apps that put these capabilities into employees’ hands. You can reserve a spot for yourself in the moment or in advance, searching your screen for that day’s prime real estate, or to identify a free huddle room. This not only helps you have the best experience, but it lets your coworkers know where to contact you for assistance on a project. It also provides a central place for feedback and functional requests, such as replacing a lightbulb.
Data is Priority
How your users navigate your technology is important, but you need to do something with this data. The back end of these systems is crucial for facilities, human resources, and IT departments. It not only tells you how individuals are doing, but the company and space as a whole.
Because real estate and office sites are looked at as expense heavy, unavoidable resources, the data gathered from a Space-as-a-Service managed workplace platform allows you to get more from your investment—or determine what must change. The data users are providing gives you a picture of how frequently (or not) office areas are being used, and when. Whereas in the past, businesses may rent out (or let sit vacant) unused space—now they can transform it.
If the data shows that members of the marketing team prefer to work at communal tables or hold a lunchtime meeting every day, you can create more communal space to guarantee their daily satisfaction. Data might tell you about an overlooked design flaw, like putting a reading nook near the office’s entrance—leading to a distracting and, therefore under-utilized area. It also gives you a sense of how many of your employees like to work in a particular location (within the office or within a city). This will drive your future real estate decisions if you analyze the data.
The human resources team may see a pattern in employees that needs to be addressed or encouraged. Performance issues may arise based on where and how an employee is working; even the smallest details, like using a standing desk regularly, can help managers understand their teams better.
Evolution Never Ends
The modern workplace will never stagnate, nor do we suspect it’ll return to cubicles and corner offices. As much as individuals enjoy variety in their careers, moving between jobs faster than any other generation, they also enjoy variety in their work day. It is up to employers to make these options available for their teams—and learn from each user’s experience.
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UPCOMING REALCOMM WEBINARS
The Cloud, IoT, Sensors and More – The NEXT EVOLUTION of Smart Connected Buildings - 4/4/2019
The concept of smart buildings has been around for decades. What’s different now are the multiple generations of technology we have seen throughout the years. At first ‘building automation’ was proprietary and single-source, next came ’connected’ buildings which introduced us to the internet. Today, next-level thinking includes an expanded use of the cloud, the inclusion of non-traditional smart edge devices found within the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors, as well as integration into ERP’s other single purpose solutions and multiple telecommunication platforms. While the benefits of a smart connected building are great, the path to success is elusive. This webinar will feature the industries’ most accomplished smart building experts.
Tom Shircliff is a co-founder and principal of Intelligent Buildings, a nationally recognized smart real estate professional services company that was started in 2004. Intelligent Buildings provides planning and implementation of next generation strategy for new buildings, existing portfolios and urban communities. Tom is a speaker and collaborator with numerous universities and national laboratories, a gubernatorial appointee for energy strategy and policy and founding Chairman of Envision Charlotte, a Clinton Global Initiative.
Paul Maximuk is Energy Manager for Ford Land Energy where he is currently is providing project and program technical guidance to implement global metering of electric, natural gas, steam, water and compressed air systems. He is an Energy Engineer with over 30 years of experience in the HVAC/BMS field. He is an SME specializing in building management and energy reduction. Paul has focused his efforts in large industrial facilities but also has equal expertise in Class A buildings. Additionally he is a problem solver finding the root cause of why mechanical systems do not operate at their peak efficiency.
Gordon Echlin is Vice President Marketing and Business Development for Triacta Power Solutions LP, where he has been a management team member since 2009. Prior to Triacta, Gordon was a partner for a boutique venture capital firm, Venture Coaches from 2006 to 2009, and started a telematics company, Netistix Technologies, in 2002.
As a Senior Strategist for Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, Chris Fine is focused on Aruba’s Smart Digital Workplace initiative. The Smart Digital Workplace combines Aruba’s industry-leading networking technology and a growing ecosystem of partners in technology, real estate, smart furniture, and other specialties, to drive the growth of new experiences for end users and managers in the next gen Smart Office.
Rick has more than ten years of experience in technology and intelligent building engineering. Prior to cohesionIB, Rick served as the Senior Practice Leader at Environmental Systems Design in the Intelligent Building group. He led the technical design of global intelligent building and smart city projects in cities around the globe. He is passionate about designing digital solutions for the built environment that improve the experiences people have and foster the culture around them.
Anne is a high-tech executive with broad experience, starting from software design, architecture, cybersecurity, to managing teams to release telecommunications and enterprise software, building and leading research labs, managing developer relations, and initiating and driving cultural changes. She worked for over 10 years at SAP successively as Director of Security and Trust Research, VP of Platform Research and VP of Developer Advocacy. More recently she co-founded and became the CEO of Workrize PBC.