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

JLL Technologies recently hosted a webinar discussing “The Smart Office of the Post-Pandemic World.” In this post, we will answer the questions that arose during the webinar.

As shown in the chart below, attendees identified “future-proofing our offices as workstyles 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 we’ve seen successfully used to react, cope, 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 that is offered through a single, easy-to-use user interface (UI), the more likely that your employees will use the technology consistently. However, you have to also balance that with also delivering the best point solution for each use case, which may mean adopting more than one tool. In these cases, JLL Technologies can help you deliver a single UI that plugs into multiple purpose-built tools. The right approach for your business will require weighing the pros and cons of each solution.

33% of webinar respondents indicated that they have recently explored tools like desk and space reservation systems as part of their return to work planning. While 58% say 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 historically.

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 vs those that are still in it?

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

Social distancing and contact tracing are now popular use cases for workplace technologies, especially in regions that are currently experiencing community transmission. 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 whether a pandemic is present or not.

88% of our webinar attendees said that workplace technologies would remain a top priority even after a vaccine is brought to market. However, when asked ‘Where do you see yourself on the data maturity journey?’, 34% answered ‘crawl’ while 28% answered ‘walk.’ There is clearly a lot of work to be done in this area, albeit now it is being done at an accelerated pace 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 tenets and reduce turn-over. We expect to see more landlords and tenants collaborate on these types of technology-led initiatives more and more in the future.

Attending this webinar, we saw attendees in regions with very strict lockdowns in place and those with very few current restrictions. We believe this illustrates the strong interest in workplace technology across varying degrees of recovery. Whether there is a 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 is reasonable to assume that employees will have sensitivity around new data collection initiatives—in and out of the office. You can help assuage these concerns by regularly and clearly communicating the scope and intention of the data captured (eg, ensuring employee health and safety). 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 initial fears. The increased control of where they work, when they meet, and what space they use is a recipe that we believe grows employee health and satisfaction.

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

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