The Connected Workplace
People talk about the connected workplace ,however what does that mean?
Traditionally the workplace has been "dumb".
"Dumb" because each of the suppliers to the workplace exist in silos.
So what do we mean by that?
Silos mean exactly that one supplier delivers as service independent of another, no valuable data in one system, is exchanged with another.
Question: So what does that mean for you and me?
Answer: We have a poor workplace experience.
So what will the impact be on the workplace when we are now questioning with Teams and Zoom, remote working, why we'd even go back to the workplace?
Question: However, why is the workplace "dumb?"
Answers: All these different areas in a workplace have different suppliers, none of them connected.
Workplace Suppliers systems serve the purpose they are design for, however that isn't the solution we want for the workplace, for you or me, today. Why?
Answer: Cookies, Preferences, profiles, likes, dislikes all drive our social channels and deliver engaging interactive relevant content. As a result we see what we'd like or have a preference to see, because a settings or cookie will inform what we are browsing to say, "recently searched this, so show this"
We expect our preferences , actions and interactions to inform other systems, and as such because workplace suppliers sit in silo's, that do not connect to each other, that's exactly what doesn't happen, ie it is "so yesterday!"
If, as a workplace experience architect, when you start to connect the different systems, using uses cases that drive either a workplace experience gain or efficiency gain then you will soon see the differences.
Microsoft safe workplace
The bulk of corporate customers use Microsoft so we make no apologies for focusing here as this is hugely relevant. Microsoft have a huge partner eco-system https://blogs.partner.microsoft.com/mpn/update-on-the-partner-ecosystem-at-microsoft/
They encourage via API's, Partners to use Microsoft's APi's to add "for example" to the Office 365 functionality. This enhances their core product leaving Microsoft to focus on Office 365.
Follow the logic then, if Microsoft Partners in the workplace space talked to each other, to drive workplace efficiency and the experience, then the workplace would not be so dumb!
The Intuitive Workplace
The intuitive workplace is one where different systems can and do inform each other to optimise the experience or efficiency of the workplace.
Here is an example that is particularly poignant right now.
Here the user can select to start the room booking in either Outlook (using the add-in) or Condeco and Microsoft Meeting Host and Guest details will populate VPOD and Proxyclick.
Sounds innocuous, but the customer experience is transformed.
Guest Experience Transformed.
All guest are pre registered without anyone having to notify reception
2. The guests get an invite that looks amazing, how to get there, maps and directions, host contact details, a QR code the seamlessly checks you in, notifies the host via SMS and email, that you have arrived.
(Huge efficiency gain in transit times through reception) (less staff required per 100 visitors) (massive first impression upgrade)
3. Data, now I have who was invited and who checked-in
(So I now have track and trace data, not just for employees, but visitors, so we now have a 100% of visitor data)
Four separate suppliers Microsoft , Condeco, Proxyclick and VPOD, previously siloed connected up to deliver a massive workplace experience upgrade for the guest, less work for reception, a better process for the host and savings in workload, time and staffing, plus 100% visitor tracking. All from one joined up process.
So now you start to see the benefits of connecting suppliers and data flows to drive efficiency and experience, and that's just one example of many, here are others.
Sensors in meeting rooms automatically check you into the meeting room.
Your mobile device checks you into your desk, using GPS.
Your data from all workplaces, populate a process or efficiency dashboard.
Actuate room, desk, huddle space usage drives workplace design.
Usage of the whole workplace, drives right sizing the space, for Corporate real estate decisions.
The data on room, desks and visitors drives health and safety compliance so the health and safety executive does not slap an enforcement order, on you.
The desk tells the cleaning vendor to clean it, not when its used, but when a different person uses it, saving money.
The room booking system tells the catering company to cancel or amend food orders as the meeting numbers change or dates change.
You could go on, across all the suppliers to the workplace and drive efficiency or experience use cases in hundreds of ways, both quickly and for little cost. In fact you could wrap any system or technology investments achieving a net saving, with a return on investment, in under 12 months.
Not only securing massive improvements in the workplace experience but also the delivery of efficiencies and cost savings.
Eco-System v silo’s
So every workplace has an eco system of suppliers and those that embrace technology in FM, Corporate Real Estate or Covid committees can see huge transformational impacts if they embrace the connected workplace and start to drive it.
Impacts that will save money, escalate efficiency and upgrade the workplace experience.
Others will stick their "head in the sand" and say no technology and integrations are irrelevant and the consequences are huge.
The suppliers that embrace integration, they will gain in relevance, stickiness and contract lengths. They will in the Venture Capitalists mind drive that really key number "Lifetime value of a customer", higher and higher.
They will also quickly become known in a small FM and Corporate Real Estate World, by reputation, the consequence, a lower cost to acquire customers as customer come to them.
The suppliers that embrace integration will gain in relevance, stickiness and contract lengths.
Quite literally those organisations that do not embrace the technology to drive the connected workplace will acquire a higher cost base.
Let's just take one example, Covid, those that take the retail screens, tape and signs approach will spend thousands turning the workplace into a hazard area, only to throw the investment away in 6-9 months.
They will have gained no data on the workplace to inform short medium or long term real estate decisions and they'll have a hard time convincing employees to return to the office.
The momentum gained through effective collaboration and teamwork, in the office, will be at the very least, slowed down, with inevitable effects on competitive edge and teamwork.
Not least there will be a very different impact on the impression delivered to those being hired, as well as the ability to retain people who do not want to work in environments that are clearly backward.
Use Cases that drive experience or efficiency
So huge tip for those that don't put your head in the sand, find the use cases that have the greatest cost benefit or workplace experience upgrade and prioritise them according to whichever's more important.
Experience defined as intuitive / informed
In your efforts to drive workplace experience the data you will need to move from data from one system to another which will invariably use API's. When assessing suppliers look for those with API's and remember you can get short and longer term wins with one move.
The opportunity is to use the Use Cases and API's that drive hopefully drive not one but two wins, here's what we mean:
Win Number 1
The one we talked about above would in the Microsoft, Condeco, Vpod and Proxyclick case be an intuitive building that knows which visitors are coming in and delivers the frictionless experience, they didn't previously enjoy, without the visitor having to do anything, other than open an email.
Win Number 2
Start using the eco-system and the data you gather to get your second win, the longer term Corporate Real Estate right sizing win.
As Covid has delivered home working REALITY to 75million folk, who now use Microsoft teams daily, the workplace of tomorrow will never be the same, however when you go to make that decision to downsize HQ and or increase regional sales offices, if you have gathered the data, you will be in a strong position.
What do we mean a strong position, no C-suite arguing about the data you based decisions on and the validity of the data you've based those decisions on.
No endless hours collating sign in sheets to work out visitor numbers.
So remember technology and integration can deliver two phases of wins, short and long term.
How do we get there?
The process of getting there is simple:-
Find suppliers that have an open API.
Find suppliers with a proven track record of integrations.
Find Suppliers who have integrated to a range of different systems ie not just the obvious ones.
Select use cases that have a real impact on the workplace experience or efficiencies.
When looking at those efficiencies, think both short medium and longer term.
Make sure you deliver robust data to make decisions on for your Corporate Real Estate planning, re stacking, mothballing, subletting, whatever your situation determines.