By JLL Technologies

5 questions to ask as you reimagine the workplace with technology

What your employees want from the workplace has already changed compared to this time last year. Expectations around how the workplace supports collaboration, health, and productivity are top of mind as more people are expected to begin returning to in-person work in some capacity.

Thankfully, many corporate real estate (CRE) leaders have expressed like-minded opinions about how organizations can move forward.

According to “Return-to-Office Sparks the Need for Corporate Real Estate Technology, Data, and Insights,” a Forrester Consulting thought leadership paper commissioned by JLL that surveyed 336 facilities and CRE decision-makers, 85–87% agreed that workplace technology is important or very important to achieve their top priorities.

Those priorities include creating a hybrid workplace experience that improves employee productivity and ensures the safety of employees and visitors.

Knowing that your next step forward revolves around workplace technology, here are five questions to consider to help you identify the technology gaps your organization needs to fill.

1. How can we support community, connectivity, and collaboration in-person and virtually?

During a recent Washington Post Live event, panelists Sandy Speicher, CEO of IDEO, and Joyce Bromberg, co-founder of Vanguard Collaborative, discussed how supporting collaboration is an important “new challenge of hybrid work.”

“How do we give folks who are participating remotely a real seat at the table—or the ability to really interact and create?” asked Bromberg. “How do we make those things coming together more equitable, and how do we use a room and technology to help people do what they do?”

The solution begins with having the right tech to support dynamic collaboration no matter where a person is working. Giving everyone the tools to communicate is one thing. Making it easier for them to connect with their favorite peers and collaborators is another.

In addition to serving as a room- and desk-booking solution, workplace experience platforms like HqO can be used to share with users where and when their favorite collaborators will be working in the office—regardless of whether they’re in the office or not.

2. How do we respect and prioritize health and well-being?

A holistic approach to well-being in the workplace starts with empowering your employees to define what a healthy environment looks like. In an article published in Harvard Business Review, five out of seven recommendations for making the workplace healthier revolved around providing workers with more control over their environments.

This can be accomplished by leveraging technology that allows employees more flexibility to work when and where they want. Likewise, mobile platforms can provide employees with direct control over their physical workplace in the form of climate controls, touchless entry, and wayfinding features.

3. How do we create meaningful, safe, and engaging experiences?

The easiest way to answer this question is to think about what makes meaningful, safe, and engaging experiences outside of the workplace.

Consider these behavioral trends:
  • People are drawn to places where they feel comfortable and valued
  • People enjoy solving problems with like-minded peers
  • People prioritize relationships with those who make them feel seen and heard

Technology solutions like employee experience apps, integrated with complementary platforms that gather data about how your people use the physical workplace, allow your employees to create those meaningful experiences for themselves.

4. How can our real estate portfolio be agile, flexible, and resilient?

It’s difficult to assess the real impact of portfolio changes without a reliable way to measure how those changes affect the way employees engage with their workplace. For years, teams have been forced to rely on surveys and other inefficient methods to collect occupancy and space utilization information.

These days, AI-powered occupancy platforms such as VergeSense can be used in conjunction with internet of things (IoT) sensors to paint an accurate, dynamic picture of how your people interact with assets in the portfolio.

Once this data is readily visible, making changes to enable greater flexibility and resilience in the portfolio—such as justifying the consolidation of underused spaces—becomes that much easier.

5. What technologies will we use to accomplish our goals?

Your technology needs will vary largely, depending on how far your organization is in its hybrid workplace journey. We recommend three technology pillars your team will want to consider in your planning. If your team already has one or two of these pillars covered, then your needs may be limited to investing in a single platform to fill the gap.

These key pillars include:
  • Employee experience: a solution, likely a mobile app, that helps your people connect with each other, navigate the workplace with ease, and feel safe and productive while doing so
  • Occupancy and utilization: a tool for collecting real-time information about how your people use real estate and the amenities within it using data collected from IoT installations
  • Space design and visualization: a platform that allows your team to build digital versions of your workplace and test new designs without the need for CAD expertise

If your needs can’t be addressed with a single platform, there’s value in partnering with an expert to guide you in selecting multiple technologies that integrate with each other and the tech stack your organization is already using.

Envisioning a more intelligent approach to CRE

Reimagining the workplace with technology should be an opportunity, not an obstacle. We’ve outlined even more strategies, tips, and data points to support your hybrid journey in our latest eBook, “The corporate real estate guide to a better hybrid workplace.”

You can also reach out to us directly to speak with an expert who deals with the same challenges your team faces daily. When it comes to getting a handle on hybrid, IoT, and the return to the office, JLL Technologies has you covered.