By JLL Technologies

3 questions real estate teams must consider before investing in workplace tech

The latest COVID-19 variant means hitting the pause button on the return-to-office. If you’ve got eyes on your organization’s real estate portfolio, the next step is important. How do you make decisions about investing in workplace technology when it’s clear that not everyone’s ready (or feels safe) to come back to work in person?

At this point, creating an effective hybrid workplace—that is, a workplace that supports employees working both in-office and remotely—is non-negotiable. But exactly what technology support is necessary to build a modern workplace that accounts for all the nuances and behaviors of users moving in and out of physical spaces in ways we’ve never seen before?

We’ve identified three questions to consider when investing in technology meant to prepare the office for in-person work and to improve the performance of your existing hybrid strategy. If the tool you’re evaluating can help you answer these questions, you’re much closer to building a better workplace.

1. Can I safely empower my people to engage with their workplace?

No matter how ready your people are to stop working from home, you first need to make sure your workspaces align with health and safety guidelines. That means selecting technology that keeps employees safe and makes them feel confident navigating a hybrid workplace.

Your first thought might be touchless entry and room- and desk-booking. Those are certainly must-have solutions. However, these features may not be enough on their own. If your goal is to empower your people to engage with the hybrid workplace as efficiently as possible, your technology investment should cover every base. It must:

  • Support touchless interactions in person
  • Help users engage with fewer apps daily
  • Reduce the confusion of navigating a hybrid environment
  • Make sense to a multi-generational audience

Creating a positive employee experience is vital to guiding workers back to the office with confidence, but that doesn’t start and end with room- and desk-booking.

Instead of settling for solving one aspect of the problem, target solutions with a broader focus, such as the workplace experience platform HqO. Look for opportunities to invest in workplace tech that can help you holistically create an employee experience that makes people want to spend time in the office.

2. Can I easily measure how my people use their workplace?

Even if you have the technology to build your hybrid workplace, you’ll need data to evaluate whether that technology is effective. You’ll also want that data sooner than later so you can make a pivot if necessary.

This need for data was a major focus during the most recent JLL Technologies webinar, “Essential tech powers the return-to-office and the future of work.” Panelists from the proptech industry emphasized just how important this information is toward building your hybrid workplace this year.

You can’t understand what you can’t measure.

David Burden, VergeSense

“You can’t understand what you can’t measure. That’s never been truer about the workplace than in 2022,” said David Burden, head of partnerships at VergeSense. “Organizations need the capabilities to collect, analyze, and act.”

This goes far beyond placing individual sensors at each workstation. Today’s technology can measure entire rooms with a single sensor, identify when personal items (clothes, laptops, bags, etc.) have been left behind, and interoperate with other tech so that data can be used to optimize floor plans and guide other workplace improvements with real-time information.

3. Can I digitally view my space based on reliable usage data?

Now you have data about how your employees operate after they’ve returned to the office. Your next technology need is a way to visualize that data and give stakeholders more context to brainstorm design improvements (without having them learn to interpret complex 2D floorplans).

Maybe you don’t need conference rooms anymore. Or desks.

Carly Tortorelli, Saltmine

As you evaluate your technology requirement in this area, don’t limit your imagination to tools for rearranging furniture. Instead, look for solutions that help you flip the script on how an entire office is utilized.

That was the opinion of webinar panelist Cary Tortorelli, vice president of strategic advisory services at Saltmine.

“Maybe you don’t need conference rooms anymore. Or desks,” said Tortorelli. “You can’t know until you have a way to imagine and evolve how your space is used.”

When evaluating a technology platform for workplace design, remember ease-of-use is just part of the story. You’ll also want to find a technology capable of transforming stakeholder requests into a language professional architects and CAD experts can understand. This ensures fewer discrepancies between the perfect workplace your team envisions and the result.

Keep your focus on how to future-proof your workplace

Corporate real estate teams are already eyeing technology investments to help address their employee experience and workplace optimization challenges. Many of those who have already sourced tech to enhance employee health, book desks and conference rooms, and capture usage data have found those investments to be worthwhile.

The bigger challenge revolves around identifying the technologies that are purpose-built to address the unique concerns of owner-operators. Need help figuring out which technology works for your organization? Reach out to us for a demo of HqO, Saltmine, or VergeSense. Put our unmatched combination of technology and corporate real estate expertise to work for your team.