The hybrid model is the future of work, which means every type of organization – from the youngest startup to the most geographically diverse multinational – must make plans to adapt to this new way of working.
So what does this mean for your real estate footprint?
Will you need to downsize your current offices or rent out underused properties? How can technology act as the conduit between remote and in-office staff while supporting productivity and collaboration? And why is it so critical to leverage real-time data to create the ideal post-pandemic employee experience?
Waving goodbye to the traditional office
No other event in recent history has had such a dramatic impact on the workplace as the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite high digital adoption and many organizations seeing the value in remote and hybrid work models, the norm for most industries prior to the pandemic was still the traditional nine-to-five, full-time in-office hours.
Few could have predicted how rapidly those industries would adapt to the remote concept. National lockdowns and complete clear-outs of CBDs meant all but the most essential workers were forced to perform their daily activities from home. While recent vaccination rollouts have seen us return somewhat to pre-pandemic normalcy, the state of the office is anything but normal.
Research by Forrester found that 70% of US and European organizations will adopt a hybrid workplace going forward, and that figure is expected to remain similar across other first-world countries like Australia.
So what does that mean for commercial real estate (CRE) managers and business leaders?
Despite downsizing pressure from the C-suite, drastically minimizing your real estate footprint may not be the best solution. Instead, understanding how technology will play a part may be key to designing the ideal post-pandemic workplace.
What will the future look like, and how will technology play a part?
From smart buildings to contactless access to virtual reality integration, tech is already helping CREs reimagine the post-pandemic office. Here are some of the top trends workplace leaders are talking about:
Touchless: Staff will want to know they can enter a building and perform their duties with as minimal contact as possible. That could involve touchless identity access (e.g. biometrics like facial scanning for entry into the building) and the ability to control things around the office from their own device, such as opening or closing automated blinds on an app.
Bookable: Booking everything will become the norm – from a single desk to an entire meeting room. Fixed seating will become a thing of the past, and services will need to help teams book time in the office on rotation.
VR in real life: Meeting rooms will no longer be the same, replete with screens, microphones (and in some cases VR headsets) to streamline videoconferencing and ensure an even playing field for those dialing in from home.
Social spaces: With teams expected to only sporadically spend quality time together, the office is being reimagined as a social and collaboration zone first and a place to perform quiet work at your desk second. This requires the redesign and repurposing of desk zones into more interactive meeting spaces, games rooms and in-house cafeterias.
Local offices: Rather than spending time and money commuting into the central office, staff will find balance in visiting flex spaces that are closer to home. Satellite hubs saw significant interest from companies during lockdowns in 2020, and as hybrid work styles become more commonplace this will provide a good compromise on days when staff are unable to travel into the CBD.
Leveraging real-time data for the ideal hybrid workplace
As most companies are only at the start of their transition to a hybrid workplace, it’s essential that they remain agile and take a data-driven approach to decisions that could significantly impact their business productivity in the future. Eliminating too much floorspace and then needing more 12 months down the track is a costly mistake that the C-suite will want to avoid. That’s where occupancy sensors can help.
Installing workplace sensors that provide live data flows can help your organization deliver the best possible hybrid experience for employees. XY Sense sensors deliver real-time data about floor, room and desk occupancy, as well as paths of human movement to help inform future decision-making. From occupancy statistics to COVIDSafety (e.g. ensuring social distancing regulations are enforced) to desk-booking and real-time wayfinding, a technology as powerful as XY Sense means you can have all the information at your fingertips to make the right changes at the right time.
Making the change that’s best for your organization
Every organization will have different needs and a transformation journey that aligns with their long-term outlook. Your strategy should match the specific needs of your company and your people, and leveraging real-time workplace data can help you do exactly that.
XY Sense is a market leader in workplace sensors that provide live data feeds to help you transition to a post-pandemic office. Request a demo with our team today or find out more about the value of workplace sensors at the XY Sense blog.