3 return-to-office and hybrid workplace challenges solved with a workplace app
Remember cube farms?
The idea of going to work in an endless row of tightly packed spaces seems bizarre now, when remote work is still common, and the well-being of employees is now a top priority for those tasked with shaping and supporting their organization’s workplace.
Meeting these new demands will require corporate real estate (CRE), IT, and HR teams to draw upon reliable real estate data—and they’ll need the right technologies to collect and govern that data.
The discussion between CRE experts from JLL Americas and the CFA Institute, moderated by longtime CIO and current Executive Director of Digital Leadership Edward Wagoner, produced potential technology strategies helpful for any CRE, IT, and HR decision-makers charged with making their workplace safer, more productive, and more engaging for their employees.
Challenge #1: Enabling workplace flexibility in response to unpredictable health events
Lydell Simmons, senior director of global real estate and workplace services at CFA Institute, described how his organization’s workplace experience app played a significant role in the successful relocation of the Hong Kong office.
“We were able to maximize the efficiency of the space, all while reducing the real estate footprint,” said Simmons.
Amid recurring COVID-19 variants fueling concerns about workplace safety, CFA achieved its health and safety goals at its new location with updated cleanliness standards and room- and desk-booking features built into their workplace app, JLL Jet.
“Jet is really helpful for us from a workplace flexibility standpoint. It allows our employees to book rooms and conference tables and choose not to come into the office if they don’t feel safe at any given time.,” said Simmons.
Equally important is Jet’s ability to help the team collect reliable data on how employees are actually using the workplace once they return.
“You need to be able to measure where people collaborate so then you can save money on costs,” said Simmons. “[Then] you know what types of spaces they prefer and where they want to work.”
Challenge #2:Building a “workplace experience” that matters to employees
Head of Corporate Real Estate at JLL Americas Marcellus Parker emphasized that expectations about the workplace experience have changed dramatically.
Speaking to his experience managing 337 corporate offices and nearly four million square feet of portfolio space, he explained: “We try to look at our CRE strategy holistically. This isn’t a box where you come to ‘plug in’ for eight hours a day. This is a place where you are expected to feel valued as a person who means something to this company.”
Parker pointed out that terms like “workplace experience” are meaningless unless organizations deploy technology that allows employees to feel like they are being taken care of and heard.
The tool underpinning Parker’s tech stack is the workplace experience app JLL Jet.
Jet supports the technologies needed by these organizations to build a meaningful workplace experience in multiple ways. In addition to delivering CRE technologies in a unified interface, the app keeps employees informed by disseminating important notifications and company updates.
As with CFA Institute, Jet plays a role in helping JLL Americas collect reliable data about how employee behaviors are changing as new solutions are deployed.
“We’ve had hybrid work infrastructure in place for years,” added Parker. “Letting everyone work from home, literally overnight, we really didn’t [miss] too many beats. And that’s because of the technology we already had in place.”
Challenge 3: Helping employees rapidly adopt new technologies in the hybrid workplace
Parker and Simmons both pointed out that the ability to deliver their organization’s workplace technology via one interface had another key upside: Employees are more willing to use the technology.
“All these applications, all these technologies, they get one view in Jet,” said Simmons. “Employees can really go in and use one tool to leverage all of our technology to contribute to a holistic experience, and this really contributed to adoption.”
Parker also recommended using that data to create feedback loops and use employee impressions to drive technology decisions. It’s just another way to show your workforce that the company is actively listening to their needs and to collect key data about how users are adapting to the hybrid workplace.
New solutions for a redefined workplace
Organizations that provide employees with more flexibility to redefine their relationship with the workplace will put themselves at a significant advantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent.