Experts describe how return-to-office is transforming priorities, strategies, budgets

Decision-makers in corporate real estate (CRE) and facilities management (FM) are being asked to respond to numerous workplace trends that were permanently accelerated by the pandemic, according to our recent webinar “How (& what) technology is empowering the return-to-office.”

How can companies efficiently and effectively invest in technology to support a transforming, modernized workplace?

JLL Digital CIO Edward Wagoner posed this question and many more to a panel of subject-matter experts as they reviewed a recent report by Forrester Consulting. The report surveyed hundreds of CRE and FM decision-makers about their plans to invest in technology to boost employee experiences and operational efficiency.

Michele Pelino, principal analyst at Forrester, described the background of the Forrester research and the statistically significant results that provided insights into the technology improvements that are being prioritized by decision-makers and why.

Yvonne Scott, a highly credentialed CIO and consultant, provided valuable insights into how to communicate the need for new CRE tech in a way that is compelling to the CIOs who control the budgets for technology investments.

Todd Hutton, head of strategic global accounts at JLL Technologies, discussed the best strategies for implementation recommended by JLL, which was recently named a leading workplace systems integrator in a recent Verdantix Green Quadrant report.

The panelists identified four best practices that companies should use to chart out a technology roadmap that guides employees back to the office smoothly.

Optimize current tech stack before making new investments

A common first step repeated by each member of the panel was assessing the value and potential capabilities of your current tech stack before looking to make new investments.

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of understanding what you’re already working with,” said Hutton. “Start with figuring out if the technology you already have aligns with your updated business and CRE objectives.”

Review the functionalities you’re using as well as those you aren’t. Shelving tech that no longer aligns with those objectives creates immediate value. Even better, the insights generated from a detailed survey of your company’s current technological landscape help tell a story that drives buy-in for investments in new solutions.

Communicate short- and long-term KPIs to CIOs

With limited budgets and many potential technologies that can achieve CRE and FM objectives, it’s difficult to determine which solution to prioritize. Panelist Yvonne Scott shared the CIO perspective, emphasizing that the most persuasive requests for funding are ones paired with a complete project roadmap and clearly defined metrics for measuring short- and long-term success.

“Your job is to work the CIO and enterprise architects to build a sustainable ecosystem of new technologies and solutions,” said Scott. “Avoid a shotgun approach—don’t try to tackle multiple technology solutions, only to find they don’t work together. Remember the journey you’re actually going on, and only make stops along the way that will help you get where you are going.”

Bridge employee experience and operational efficiency with technology

Analyst Michele Pelino made a key observation: According to the research, organizations are not only investing in technology to achieve employee experience and operational benefits—technology makes it easier to tackle both goals with a unified strategy.

“It’s important to think about employee experience and operational efficiency as one goal, not siloed strategies,” said Pelino. “You’ve got to start thinking different about the priorities and benefits achieved by technology.”

“For example, utilization sensors can not only be used to gather utilization data, but also feed employee experience apps so they [decision-makers] have a better view,” said Hutton. “We encourage customers to review the integration platforms available and understand how multiple solutions can talk to one another.”

Scott emphasized the importance of prioritizing the employee experience: “If the office is too hard for me to visit, I just won’t come in.”

Use expertise and change management techniques for successful implementation

The panelists closed out the webinar by discussing how organizations are more open to leveraging third-party support to ensure that the tech is properly optimized and deployed.

“Often, the top concern for clients is to figure out how to improve investment strategies or implementation strategies that are already in place,” said Pelino. “They want to find partners to build confidence that they are moving in the right direction.”

Scott agreed that leadership attitudes toward technology are changing as overall business models begin to become more technology-focused: “Organizations understand that they may have deep expertise in their platforms, but they are not subject-matter experts.”

Once the solutions and partners are in place, panelists agreed, a holistic approach to change management will help ensure widespread adoption.

“Project management is often a missing part of the puzzle when it comes to managing solution scalability and implementation concerns,” said Hutton. “When I see good change management strategies deployed along with implementation plans, those plans are much more effective.”

Build a sustainable ecosystem of solutions

As employees return to transforming workplaces, ongoing investments in CRE technologies will be required to support new operating models while enabling business, operational, and employee experience goals.

It’s essential to partner with deep experience in both technology and CRE—both to help evaluate your existing tech and to map out future technologies needed to transform your workplace.

Talk to an expert today to successfully navigate your technology-driven workplace transformation.