Q&A: The smart office of the post-pandemic future

JLL Technologies recently hosted a webinar, “The Smart Office of the Post-Pandemic World,” where industry panelists and attendees discussed pressing questions about the future of the workplace.

Webinar attendees identified future-proofing their offices as work styles change as their top concern going into 2021. With this in mind, Michael Taggart, head of sales in Asia Pacific for JLL Technologies, spent the hour discussing the critical challenges of the COVID-19-era workplace and the technology solutions that have been used successfully to react and adapt in uncertain times.

Poll: What is your biggest concern for 2021?
COVID Re-entry Concerns

Q: How important is it to find and deliver a single mobile app that can do all the things—including reservations, space allocation, check-in, tracking, and reporting functionalities?

Successful adoption, and therefore positive ROI, is dependent on delivering strong value to your employees. The more day-to-day utility offered through a single, easy-to-use user interface (UI), the more likely employees will use the technology consistently. However, you must balance that with delivering the best point solution for each use case—which may mean adopting more than one tool. In these cases, look for a single UI that integrates with multiple purpose-built tools. The right approach for your business will require weighing the pros and cons of each solution.

One-third of webinar respondents indicated they have recently explored tools such desk- and space-reservation systems as part of their return-to-office planning, while 58% reported that there’s a strong business case to adopt new technology as they prepare for the next normal. We can see that these types of workplace technology are already significantly more important than have been in the past.

Poll: What technologies have you explored as part of your return to work planning?
COVID Re-entry Technologies

Q: What are the trends in workplace technology adoption in regions that are out of lockdown versus those that are still in it? 

While pre-COVID, the trend had been to deliver increasing levels of flexibility and simplicity to employees, decision-makers in and out of lockdown are now prioritizing technologies that keep employees healthy and safe.

Social distancing and contact tracing are now popular use cases for workplace technologies, especially in regions that are currently experiencing high transmission rates. In other regions, the focus is on sustaining positive results to ensure that employees continue to feel safe, healthy, and confident in the office over the long term.

However, workplace technology is valuable even when there’s not a pandemic.

Eight-eight percent of attendees said workplace technologies would remain their top priority, even after a vaccines are widely available. However, when asked, “Where do you see yourself on the data maturity journey,” 34% answered “crawl” while 28% answered “walk.” There’s clearly a lot of work to be done in this area—work that has accelerated, due to COVID-related shifts in priorities.

Poll: Where do you see yourself on the data maturity journey?
CRE Tech Data Maturity

Q: Are there new expectations of landlords or developers in terms of the base building and/or future base building developments?

Yes. We see an increase in tenant expectations from landlords, particularly in relation to what a landlord will provide and give tenants access to. Similarly, landlords are proactively investing in productivity and safety to make their spaces more attractive to new tenants and reduce turnover. We expect to see more landlord and tenant collaboration around these technology-led initiatives more and more in the future.

Attending this webinar were attendees in regions with very strict lockdowns in place, as well as those from regions with very few restrictions. We believe this illustrates the strong interest in workplace technology a mid varying degrees of pandemic severity. Pandemic or not, the need to react with increasing speed to shifting internal or external forces will not go away.

Q: How do employees typically feel about data collection around occupancy and space usage? Are there privacy issues to be considered?

It’s reasonable to assume employees will be sensitive to and perhaps suspicious of new data-collection initiatives, both in and out of the office. You can assuage these concerns by regularly and clearly communicating the scope and intention of the data captured. Most people will accept the reduction in privacy if the value delivered is clear and personal.

For example, when employees realize the benefits of real-time space and desk availability, that convenience and efficiency may outweigh their fears. The increased control of where they work, when they meet, and what spaces they use is a recipe for imprving employee health and satisfaction.

Want to know more about how workplace technologies can enhance the workplace experience and drive a safer return-to-office for your company? Get in touch.

RSVP for free CRE Technology webinar