Transformed by technology: Government first, workplaces next

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This article originally appeared on Banker & Tradesman on February 24, 2019.


Technology has transformed the way we live, communicate, and connect with the world around us. Massachusetts has always been at the forefront of this innovation — it’s what keeps us competitive as a region. Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to see how this trend has made people’s lives better through government This highlights the potential of the same principles transforming the workplace — and the physical world around us.


City Hall 2.0


In 2014, I walked into City Hall as Mayor Walsh’s Chief of Staff, joining the first new administration in Boston in 20 years. Among his first mandates was to modernize how we operated and delivered city services through technology.


CityScore was our response — a first-of-its-kind performance management system for government that transparently held us accountable to our constituents; measuring everything from how quickly graffiti was cleaned to how many people entered our libraries each day. It gave constituents an unprecedented level of transparency into our performance and resulted in significant improvements in life-saving areas, such as fire truck response times. It optimized our service delivery, increased trust in government, and, most importantly, improved the lives of Bostonians.




Nothing behind CityScore was particularly revolutionary when compared to the accountability practices of other sectors. What it exemplifies is that, when new innovations are brought to a sector, the results can be transformational, and significantly improve the livelihood of large populations.


The workplace is next


If there’s one sector that’s underestimated almost as much as the government when it comes to innovation, it’s commercial real estate. As the world’s biggest asset class, commercial real estate professionals understand that today’s business is one where employees and their experiences are at the core of what they do. As such, the industry is asking: how can we best utilize technology to make the experience better for every person who walks into our buildings each day?


Addressing this fundamental question is at the heart of HqO, a Boston-based technology company that is helping people improve the workplace experience for tenants. The pathway to change in the workplace follows a trend we’re seeing in technology and the increased influence of the customer:

  • User experience is transforming traditional industries – take transportation and hospitality for example. Uber owns zero cars, but facilitated 48 million rides in 2018 with software. Airbnb owns zero hotel rooms or homes, but attracted 300 million guests in 2018 with software.
  • WeWork followed a similar path, it own(ed) zero office buildings but focused on user experience and technology to ultimately boast 400,000 members, including 30% of  Fortune 500 companies. As WeWork purchases buildings and becomes more vertically integrated, landlords are grappling with how to provide a similar experience to tenants without handing over the relationship with their customer.
  • The job market is tight and the war for talent is becoming a responsibility of landlords. The workforce is becoming more tech-savvy, demanding a workplace experience that is focused on experience and community –– and it needs to be accessible via the mobile devices we carry with us wherever we go.


We believe tenant experience (TeX) software is the solution to empowering user experience. While most technology in this sector provides data and automation to drive financial and operational efficiency for property teams, TeX solutions connect the other 99% of the building’s population – the employee community – and surfaces data about the tenant experience that lights up additional property value by making the workplace experience better.




New data will transform the industry


Similar to how we used data and technology to empower the City of Boston to serve people better, the data that will arise from this technology will drastically improve the workplace experience.


The insights gained from better understanding the preferences of employees will be a net positive for everyone involved. Never again will an employee in a building feel disconnected from those who manage a workplace. Similarly, building owners will now have more insights into what their customers prefer than ever before and be able to rapidly change to accommodate them. This kind of seamless interaction and feedback loop, which is elementary in other sectors, can be transformative in this sector through software.


Massachusetts is a region unlike any other, whose reputation is based on its ability to innovate fueled by a passionate community and thriving businesses. With technology, we’ll be able to continue this legacy by empowering people in everything that they do.


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