As businesses continue to redefine their return-to-work plans, corporate real estate professionals are returning to in-person industry events. In the fourth quarter of 2021, groups like BOMA, IFMA and most recently CoreNet Global have begun welcoming back industry specialists at a time when many pivotal decisions are being made about their office spaces, data and remote-work policies.
MRI Software was thankful for the opportunity to moderate a panel at the 2021 CoreNet Global Summit in Seattle titled, “Leveraging Technology for Strategic Workplace Decisions”. The panel featured Kay Sargent of HOK, Simon Davis of Impec Group, and Alecia Chandler of EBUSINESS Strategies. Andy Welkley, Senior Product Marketing Manager at MRI, moderated the discussion on the continued evolution of the office, the need for flexibility in a hybrid environment and how people are a pivotal part of a successful office transition. The conversation maneuvered down some interesting paths – let’s take a look at five takeaways from the panel.
Going hybrid provides an opportunity to cut costs
All organizations with a physical footprint are determining the best working model for their employees. A majority of the businesses we’ve spoken to are implementing hybrid work scenarios, which provides flexibility for the employees but creates new challenges for employers. The short-term problem of flexible working has been addressed with a short-term solution: hybrid work. However, the longer-term need for businesses is to evaluate the space they have for future decisions about their footprint.
If you are eliminating the need for all staff to be in-office all week, there is an opportunity for cost savings through various channels. Do you close the office on certain days to save on operational expenses like janitorial services? Do you re-evaluate the lease you have on your physical space to something more suitable to your new work environment? Do you shut down some offices? Take this opportunity to find cost savings during this period of monumental shift for your employees and your business.
Your meeting room problem is actually a booking problem
How often do you look for a meeting room at the office only to find they’re all booked? How frustrating is it to then walk through the office and see empty conference rooms, or one employee leveraging it as an office by themselves? The answer shouldn’t be to simply add more conference room space – the problem that needs to be addressed is how to book the space. This can free up under-utilized areas and also provide extra freedom for employees.
Setting parameters around who can book particular spaces, as well as setting requirements for occupancy can help alleviate some of these issues. Room booking software that enables you to not only see booking data, but also empower staff to easily view, book and modify meeting rooms can become a real advantage to getting people back into the office. The last thing an employee wants to do is come into the office for collaboration and not have the ability to collaborate.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure
Hybrid working models present opportunities to evaluate the places we occupy and the trends of how people use them. If you don’t have a means to measure the usage of offices and the trends of your staff, your business is likely leaving money on the table. Using access control systems, employee and visitor management sign-in software and physical sensor technology allows you to collate new data points that have never been more relevant. Operationally, it makes the management of buildings more efficient.
Data is only valuable if you know how to use it
Now you have data points, but what good is data if you can’t act on it? Hybrid working models give businesses a chance to constantly re-evaluate how people work. Today’s “return to work” plan may look nothing like your work practices two years from now. Many CEOs even see the shift to remote working being a temporary event and still want to see fully utilized offices post-COVID. Your data matters. Tracking your space utilization can effectively shape your long-term corporate leasing strategy, which in many cases, may swing expenses by millions of dollars. But you also have the opportunity to use this data to impact your employees’ lives. Knowing how they work allows you to cater to your most important asset: your people.
Space is cheap compared to the price of people
It’s hard to recruit and retain talent. The flexibility of working from home during COVID changed the perspective of many employees about not only what they want to do, but how and where they want to do it. Putting technology in place that makes working from the office even easier than working from home gives your staff a reason to want to work at your company. It can be hard to sell employees on culture when they are absorbing it virtually. Businesses need to put real value not only on the costs associated with flexible spaces, but also on the cost of losing talent for lack of flexibility. Commuting into an office can be burdensome, but for an employee to know they can easily and effectively book a desk and a meeting room for collaboration allows your company culture to shine through – keeping your employees satisfied.
Facilities Managers, Directors of Real Estate, and Building Managers have the ability to truly impact the future of the business both financially and culturally with the decisions that they make over the coming months. Putting your people first has never been more important, and the ability to leverage technology to also save money in the process brings this area of an organization to the forefront of future executive-level decisions.
CoreNet Global was a fantastic educational conference, and you could feel that all in attendance were thrilled to finally get back together in a safe environment. CoreNet members will have free access to the audio recordings of the sessions, so check out the panel discussion. Next year’s CoreNet Global Summit in Chicago will be another great opportunity to evaluate the progress made in the industry toward reinventing the workplace. Learn how MRI Software can help you make the most of your hybrid work policies.