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The Social and Technological Demands Changing the Office

Posted By Kristin Concannon | Aug 24, 2021 8:30 AM
The Social and Technological Demands Changing the Office

A recent survey by Price Waterhouse Cooper found that 87% of employees think the modern office is important for collaborating with team members and building relationships. 

However, there are still many questions involving the office’s role in the overall workplace experience. For example, what exactly do tenants require from the office to support their needs? How can tenant expectations be met through the building’s physical infrastructure? How do connected technologies provide a truly personal and beneficial experience that complements the physical space? And, with all of this so up in the air, where do property teams even begin? 

One thing remains certain: Understanding what’s required from both a building’s physical infrastructure and technology stack is crucial for return to office plans and can set businesses apart in a highly competitive market. The right combination will allow commercial real estate (CRE) leaders to get ahead of shifting workplace trends and establish deeper connections with the people in and around their buildings.

With that in mind, here are a few considerations landlords and property teams should take when evaluating their own portfolio.

Invest in Experiences

Today, tenants need to prioritize delivering hospitable, flexible experiences to their employees that will allow them to optimize their performance no matter where they work. In a CBRE report that surveyed landlords about their post-pandemic priorities, 82% of respondents mentioned that flexible office space options were in-demand. An additional 74% of landlords expressed interest in creating shared meeting space.

Insights like these have already impacted the way industry leaders are talking about the physical office. As remote and hybrid work models are more openly adopted, offices are playing a critical role in combating loneliness for employees working from home. Additionally, offices can help foster productivity, learning, and ownership

Most people agree: offices are not going anywhere, but they need to take a different form to be able to support building communities. According to Feldman Equities, modern offices must provide a place for the following:

  • Employee collaboration, innovation, and productivity.
  • Community experiences and social interaction.
  • Reflecting company brand and culture.
  • Tenant engagement, retention, and attraction.

In order to successfully accomplish these goals, property teams need to take a deeper look at their office’s own infrastructure. Having a true assessment of a building’s floor plans will help determine how much work and investment is needed to create a more collaborative, social future.

Blend the Physical with the Digital

According to Deloitte, 53% of businesses consider tenant experience technologies as a core competency for operational resilience. Digital tools — like apps that increase tenant communication and engagement, cloud-based technologies, and property automation technologies — can help companies maintain a strong financial position, develop and retain talent, and create an enabling workplace culture.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the perceived path to success has been to adopt technology at a breakneck pace. It’s well documented that these capabilities can help landlords and property teams facilitate modern tenant experiences through features such as mobile access, visitor management software, and food ordering solutions. However, it’s critical to create an environment that balances architecture with technology to enhance the workplace experience. After all, you can have the best technology systems in the world, but people still need to be in the building to take advantage of them.

If you want to create a smarter, more tech-enabled office, it’s important to ensure that your physical infrastructure fosters an environment that compels people to come into the building and use the space. Similarly, your office design needs to align and compete with remote work environments by offering tenants and employees benefits that they can’t get at home.

Of course, not all CRE teams can afford extensive renovations or to build a brand-new office from the ground up. In fact, many landlords are challenged with finding new and creative ways to enhance their older infrastructure that may be limited in flexibility due to immovable architectural or engineering elements. This is why even the basic, more subtle design tactics — such as furniture placement, wayfinding, signage, and more — are still low-cost, high-value strategies to make your building more appealing. 

Once your physical design feeds into your office’s technology systems (and vice versa), you can successfully highlight your building’s resources and amenities. By speaking to the many needs of your building occupants, you will be on the right track to establishing a memorable, engaging, and seamless destination for the workforce.

Track Your Efforts

Finding a balance between design and technology strategies for the office will also empower landlords through data-driven decision making.

Once you create compelling environments for people to come back to, each technology integration amenitizes and activates your building’s features. These technology connections can let office owners and operators know exactly what is going on in their buildings, which can result in improved leasing rates, better informed office investments, and increased customer satisfaction with your property.

Leveraging a tenant experience platform — like the HqOS™ operating system — that connects tenants to all of a building’s experiences and amenities will not only allow them to access your services and offerings more easily, but help property teams understand engagement trends at both the building level and the individual tenant level. Additionally, using a platform that provides competitive benchmarking metrics will ensure that your office stands out from the rest. Property teams can compare their building amenities and services to nearby or model offices, allowing them to showcase their most desirable features to prospective tenants

Investing in the right amenities for your building community will heighten tenant perception of your landlord brand, and encourage individuals to continue to engage with your building. This, in turn, will continue the cycle and produce more meaningful data. A successful building or portfolio will nurture this real-time feedback loop so they can remain agile and proactive about evolving tenant needs.

For more information on how you can create a more immersive, collaborative workplace, download our latest industry guide, Office Reconfigured: How the workplace is adapting to the social and technological needs of the workforce.

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