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 today, the pre-and post-pandemic statistics tell a compelling story.

Demand for Smart Workplace Solutions

Hybrid work existed before the pandemic, but it's now much more widespread. In 2018, Eurofound reported that 5.7% of full-time employees in Europe worked remotely. By 2020, that figure had jumped to almost 25%. Of course, that comparison is skewed by the fact that large parts of the world were shut down in 2020.

But even today, how people work has changed considerably since 2018. By 2025, 32.6 million Americans are expected to be working remotely, and data from Eurostat and Statista shows that an average of 30% of workers in the EU regularly worked from home last year.

This is a new baseline for working and one of the major influences on the roles people are willing to take on. 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. Organisations not willing to adapt are facing significant pushback. Indeed, 57% of workers would consider leaving their current job if their employer stopped allowing remote work.

It is a situation that created significant demand for smart workplace solutions.

A New Era of Smarter, Connected Workspaces

Smart solutions are infiltrating every aspect of the workplace. The Internet of Things (IoT) which, according to Statista, is set to triple from 8.74 billion devices in 2020 to over 25.4 billion by 2030 is playing a significant role. Enabling real-time data collection, sensors are helping 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 businesses capitalise on ways in which these technologies can shoulder the burden of administrative 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) are giving businesses a single source of truth in order to better capture, understand and act on this new deluge of data they are receiving. This is making improvements to space optimisation and predictive maintenance.  

The result: a new era of smarter, connected workspaces where employee experience is key.

Strategies to Unlock a Connected Working Environment

Adapting workspaces to be modern, future-proofed and fit for the way people and businesses operate today involves lots of moving parts. On the surface, it can seem both complex and daunting but there are strategies and approaches you can take in order to get to 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 organisation. 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 the deployment, identify and address any issues early on, and gather feedback before rolling out the changes to the entire organisation.
  3. Ensure communication transparency - Provide employees with a clear and compelling vision. Not just what you are doing and changing week to week, but where these changes will take the business and their experience as a result.
  4. Encourage employee involvement - Involve employees early with focus groups and committees. Provide training and address any skills gaps.
  5. Recognise and reward adoption - Reward employees who actively embrace and use smart workplace solutions while celebrating success to contribute to a positive change culture.
  6. Be patient and flexible - Change takes time so make sure to avoid rushing or jumping the gun for results. Similarly, be open to adjustments to the implementation plan.
  7. Have the right technology - Make sure 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 the much-desired flexibility to balance personal and professional commitments, 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 higher 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.