As a natural extension of its Smart Infrastructure organization, Siemens acquired two leading companies focused on workplace technologies in 2018: Comfy, which provides desk and room booking and portfolio utilization analysis and Enlighted, a leading sensor and IoT data consolidator.
These Siemens entities have now been combined under the single leadership of CEO Stefan Schwab, who has served as Enlighted’s CEO since its acquisition. A seasoned professional with a deep background in technology, operations, and product development, Stefan is poised to expand Siemens’ influence in the workplace technology space as market demands for these solutions have accelerated tremendously over the last months.
We sat down with him to learn of his vision for the combined organization in light of recent market developments:
Q: Workplace digital transformation has become a top priority for business leaders since the onset of the pandemic. How is Comfy and Enlighted positioned to support their critical needs?
A: The most urgent technology needed for the workplace is to address the permanent shift to hybrid working. After a year of working from home, we’ve learned that a full 82% of employers will allow remote working some of the time indefinitely, and that 97% of employees actually prefer having the option to work remotely, at least some of the time. Executives across the board, from C-Suite to HR to Corporate Real Estate are examining technology solutions for implementing a hybrid model for their return to the office strategies, while at the same time evaluating and rationalizing their portfolio footprints.
We hear from our global enterprise clients, such as Salesforce, BMW and Arvato, that capabilities for employee engagement, administrative control and portfolio data insights serve their critical requirements for an organized and thoughtful return to a hybrid work environment. They’re examining both the processes and software requirements for this dramatic change in the future of work. They want a solid and reputable partner who can fulfil their immediate needs, but who is also investing in new innovations as the workplace continues to evolve. We provide such a combination with the backing of Siemens and our focus on quality workplace solutions.
Q: How do you expect your solutions to change by combining Comfy and Enlighted capabilities? How will your customers benefit?
A: We believe that the key to successfully managing the new reality of workplaces will be accomplished with data and insights. The old ways of allocating, managing and predicting space usage have essentially flown out the window. Because employees no longer have a 1:1 desk ratio, and floorplans are being reconfigured for activity-based work, facility managers need a new way of organizing and planning work environments.
That’s where data comes in. Understanding employee behaviors, preferences and trends will be key to unlocking dynamic and positive work experiences. Every time an employee engages around their work environment through the Comfy app, data is captured through an opt-in process, revealing both intent and actions. Additionally, the information captured around movement from Enlighted sensors provides an objective view of space utilization and movement. Combined, they paint a powerful and useful picture of space usage that can be leveraged for space administration, design and portfolio planning.
Q: How exactly are your customers using this data? What insights are important to them?
A: Our customers want to know exactly how their space is being used and how much space is required. They need to understand the shifting preferences of their employees to design the right kind of workspaces (desks, collaboration areas, lounges, conference rooms) and they need to know how they can safely contract their portfolio, without business interruption. They are trying to achieve that fine balance of knowing just the right amount of required space to serve both their occupants and the bottom line.
Q: And what about your customer’s employees? What do they gain in this new age of work?
A: Companies are being very thoughtful about new work environments they are creating. They understand that creating a positive and intuitive experience will become more of a differentiator to attract great talent. Employees stand to benefit by having a seamless way to integrate working from home and life at the office. Knowing when and where colleagues will be in the office, finding and reserving the right kind of space, setting their office temperature and even seeing the cafeteria menu from their mobile app are all activities that make the new workplace a more appealing proposition. Our solutions are here to ensure this happens.
Q: What do you see for workplace technologies for the next year? Five years?
A: The workplace as we know it has changed forever, that part is clear. However, what form it will take in the coming months and years is yet to be seen. So much of this will be driven by employee desires and preferences, but also by the economics of space management and the ubiquitous nature of working from anywhere. One thing is certain – our customers need flexible solutions that will help them evolve as workplace mores change. Bringing new and innovative analytics, employee engagement features and facilities management capabilities are all areas we’re planning for our short- and long-term roadmap. The journey is just beginning.