Historically, enterprises have adhered to a one-size-fits-all approach to commercial real estate. Think the Dilbert comic strip, or the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company from the TV series, where employees labor in cubicles while aspiring to the coveted corner office. It is an environment that is fixed, inflexible and boxed in – literally and figuratively. However, that perception is at odds with the realities of the modern office and the need for predictive workplaces.
Increasingly, the world’s leading companies are moving to predictive workplaces, where data-powered technologies and data-driven insights are used to create personalized workspace experiences within individually tailored environments. Employers are differentiating themselves by giving their employees the freedom to work in ways that best suit employee needs and styles, better connecting them to their workspaces.
So, what is at the heart of this shift from the traditional office to the predictive workplace?
Christina Tubb, EMS Managing Director, EMEA, recently delved into this question in “According to Prediction,” an article published in the RICS Property Journal. In the article, she discusses why corporate strategists are leaving behind underutilized and inflexible offices in favor of workplaces that are connected, inspiring and efficient.
The modern workforce has options. Given today’s record-low unemployment numbers and a severe talent squeeze, employees have the leverage to expect a gratifying working environment. It is increasingly important to create an atmosphere where they can thrive – or companies risk losing them to competitors. This environment:
- Is custom-tailored for individual inspiration. In a knowledge-based economy, the ideal workspace fosters maximum efficiency. For some employees, that may look like central, open areas surrounded by huddle rooms for collaboration. For others, it may mean insulated spots that engender quiet and enable intense concentration. The modern workplace should offer a mix of workspaces to suit these various styles, where employees can rely on getting access to the space they need to get their job done, and it can serve up the means of reserving these spaces when and how employees need them.
- Includes strategically important technology. Tech investments that keep the user experience in mind, such as occupancy sensors and space utilization trackers that can identify desired workspaces and help inform workplace design, can help to increase employee satisfaction and efficiency. And technology such as video conferencing offers the mobility that many (especially those now entering the workforce) crave in a world where expectations include the ability to be connected from anywhere, at any time.
- Respects privacy. When employees understand how the modern workplace enriches their experience, an understanding that arrives from companies publicizing policies on how workspace data is used and detailing what privacy safeguards are in place, they are happier to subscribe to these personalized experiences.
The predictive workplace excels at attracting, retaining, and engaging talent by giving companies the tools and means to create the right environment for the modern office. It gathers anonymized data on individual activities, and it weighs factors such as Skype use and preferences for spaces and technology to build individual profiles to shape the predictive experience. By evaluating the similarities between the most commonly booked spaces, organizations can identify what kinds of areas employees prefer and in turn offer more of those spaces, leading to a more satisfied, engaged workforce.
Greater Return on Investment
With real estate as one of an enterprise’s highest costs, it is no surprise that modern companies are laser-focused on achieving a higher return on their real estate investment – and the predictive workplace is instrumental in this effort.
Consider the experience of a major US-based accounting firm with offices in more than 100 countries. This company sought a better understanding of space use at its New York City headquarters. The company invested in software that would help collect and analyze space usage data. The firm found that fewer than 49% of assigned offices were being used, and transient employees were using just 67% of the flexible hotel space. Armed with this insight, the company vacated six floors and sublet three, to the tune of $85 million in savings over five years. The firm continues to evaluate space utilization throughout its other properties, and it expects to save $97 million at another location over the same time period.
This return on investment goes far beyond real estate; it also extends into the realm of return on people investment. A wisely selected and well-used predictive workplace system pays for itself in multiple ways. For example, by equipping a building with wayfinding technology that aids employees in locating spaces, people and resources, companies can help them quickly locate where they will be working and with whom they will be collaborating, which translates into quantifiable time savings and productivity gains.
Predictive workplaces can create personalized experiences, helping differentiate companies among the workforce, which is vital in times of tight labor markets. In addition, as a result of engaged employees, companies also lower substantial recruiting and hiring costs, further increasing their return on investment.
To begin a conversation on how EMS can help your organization move to a predictive workplace model and win the war on talent, we invite you to reach out and contact us.