The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly changed how many people worked forcing millions to work from home. As a result, it put a spotlight on corporate technology and whether companies could operate productively with many of their staff working away from the office.

Looking back at those challenging years, the pre- and post-pandemic statistics tell us a compelling story.

Demand for Smart Workplace Solutions

Remote and hybrid work existed before the pandemic, but it’s now far more common. According to a survey conducted before COVID-19, respondents reported that they worked less than 5% of days from home. Today, nearly 13% of full-time employees work from home, while 28.2% have adapted to hybrid work arrangements.  

While these numbers are significant, they are expected to increase even more over the next few years. Experts estimate that by 2025, 32.6 million Americans will be working remotely. The prevalence of remote and hybrid work has created a new baseline, serving as one of the most important factors people consider when taking a job. Data from a survey conducted by Buffer found that 98% of workers want to work remotely at least some of the time and these evolving preferences are critical. Organizations that are not willing to adapt are facing significant pushback – with 57% of workers indicating that they would leave their current job if their employer stopped allowing remote work.

Given these shifts in how Americans work, employers need to adapt quickly to remain competitive and appear attractive to potential candidates. Smart workplace solutions play a critical role in helping employers transition to and improve remote and hybrid work environments.  

A New Era of Smarter, Connected Workspaces

Smart solutions are infiltrating every aspect of the workplace. According to Statista, the Internet of Things (IoT), which is set to triple from 8.74 billion devices in 2020 to over 25.4 billion by 2030, is playing a significant role. Sensors enable real-time data collection and help to inform decisions relating to occupancy, environmental conditions, energy consumption, and equipment performance.  

We’re also seeing a rapid adoption of AI and machine learning (ML) as organizations leverage these technologies to manage the burden of administrative work and repetitive tasks, freeing up humans to do more rewarding or valuable work. Automation, too, is being used to help intelligently control lighting, HVAC, and security systems. Connected Portfolio Intelligence Platforms (CPIP) give organizations a single source of truth to better capture, understand and act on the treasure trove of new data they are receiving. These capabilities are helping improve space optimization and enable proactive strategies including predictive maintenance.  

The result is a new era of smarter, connected workspaces where the employee experience takes center stage.  

Strategies to Unlock a Connected Working Environment

Modernizing and future-proofing workspaces to better fit the ways that people work, and how organizations operate involves lots of moving parts. On the surface, it can seem both complex and daunting. Fortunately, however, there are strategies and approaches that you can take to get to unlock a connected working environment quicker.  

Here are some tips to help you get started on your journey to a connected working environment:

  1. Secure executive sponsorship - make sure you have support high-up in the organization. It’s required for quick and positive decision-making, as well as providing credibility to the overall vision.
  2. Start with small pilots - Test new developments with a smaller group of employees. This will help you to control deployment, identify and address any issues early on, and gather feedback before rolling out the changes to the entire organization.
  3. Ensure communication transparency - Provide employees with a clear and compelling vision. This includes not only what you are doing and changing week-to-week, but where these changes will take the organization in the future.
  4. Encourage employee involvement - Involve employees early with focus groups and committees. Provide training and address any skills gaps.
  5. Recognize and reward adoption - Reward employees who actively embrace and use smart workplace solutions while celebrating success to contribute to a culture that embraces change.  
  6. Be patient and flexible - Change takes time. Avoid rushing to obtain immediate results. Similarly, be open to adjustments to your implementation plan.
  7. Have the right technology - Make sure that you have the appropriate technology to bring everything together. You’ll need an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) to do that, which is where Accruent can help. 

The Undeniable Appeal of Hybrid Work

The hybrid work model offers a myriad of benefits for both employers and employees. For workers, it provides an opportunity to achieve work-life balance, leading to increased job satisfaction, improved mental health, and reduced burnout. Employers, on the other hand, can reap the rewards of a more engaged and satisfied workforce, resulting in greater productivity and lower turnover rates, all while maximising office space.  

It's a win-win situation that demonstrates the undeniable appeal of hybrid work arrangements.