Last week I had the privilege of speaking at WORKTECH NYC and engaging with a global community of academics and corporate leaders shaping the future of work and workplace. My presentation focused on "the connected workplace" — what this increasingly popular term means, and more importantly, what it’s really good for. Here's my take.
The workplace as innovation driver
A recurring theme at WORKTECH and that I've heard often from other C-suite executives: we want workplaces that drive innovation. Today, offices are modern collaboration hubs built to ensure the positive output of a company's most valuable asset: its knowledge workers. The workplace is expected to accommodate remote and agile working, and enable collaboration between cross-departmental teams on an as-needed basis—a tall order on a limited budget.
In traditional office environments, when a desk was assigned to an employee, it was likely that they’d physically be there most of the time. Today, the average knowledge worker is at her desk only 40% of her working day. Throughout her day, she will move from her desk, to a collaboration space, to an off-site meeting, to a private space for phone calls—all in the span of a few hours. From a business perspective this is great news; employees with access to varied space types to meet their needs are typically more productive. But from a workplace strategy perspective, it presents a challenge: how do you know which spaces are most effective (and why)? How do you create the right conditions for employees to be their most productive?
Today’s enterprise leaders are making significant investments in an attempt to answer this question; corporate real estate teams are investing in occupancy sensors and room booking software. IT is investing in cloud computing and employee-facing digital workplace solutions. Even HR is increasing investment in metric-driven tools like people analytics dashboards and more robust employee feedback surveys. But, are these solutions working?
I'd argue "no." This siloed, departmental approach is not scalable nor sustainable. Workers everywhere are feeling "app fatigue." A connected workplace is the only way companies can turn their workplaces into centers of innovation. An integrated approach is critical to getting the most from your existing workplace investments.
Enter: the era of connectivity
Here at Comfy, we’ve built a scalable, secure platform that integrates into all the physical and digital workplace systems (from building management systems to sensor hardware to digital calendaring systems), and feeds real-time information about the workplace back to employees (via our app) and system administrators (via our analytics dashboard). The near real-time aspect of this information means employees and business units can act more quickly, creating a rapidly updating, continuous feedback loop that fuels a more productive—and innovative—workplace.
Driving results with the connected workplace
What does this continuously improving workplace look like? As an example, many of our clients are concerned with minimizing unused space and improving space utilization. In a connected workplace, sensor data and calendaring system data are connected. This means a real estate executive can easily see the percentage of unused, reserved rooms and better optimize their real estate portfolio. For individual employees in a connected workplace, they are able to identify available rooms in real-time and book rooms on-demand from their devices. This all leads to a more efficient, demand-based space usage scenario.
Similarly, when it comes to building efficiency, the traditional static setpoint approach to temperature can be incredibly wasteful. Instead, by leveraging the Comfy app and our back-end systems integrations to align HVAC system output with real-time employee demand, our clients have realized significant cost-savings and efficiency. Employees are also empowered with the personalization and control they’ve come to expect from today’s workplace.
A final, and popular, benefit of the connected workplace: when you connect employees more seamlessly to the places around them, you will see an improved use of existing real estate assets. Consider for a moment how many of your offices have gyms, kitchens, bike rooms. Now, think for a moment: how much did you spend on these amenities? Do you know how often they are being used?
Just because you offer premium spaces or amenities or services, doesn't mean people will use them. A truly connected workplace allows employees to identify, search, and connect to aspects of their workplace when and where they need them. Comfy makes it easy through our single, intuitive app.
Next week, we're releasing a new welcome experience in the Comfy app, which provides a single interface to connect employees to key aspects of the workplace. We’ve rethought and redesigned the home screen to make it friendlier and more intuitive, but most importantly, easier for employees to directly access and use the workplace services you’ve made big investments in. It’s an exciting enhancement that truly showcases Comfy’s employee-first approach to driving workplace productivity, and the value of the connected workplace experience.
We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on! Stay tuned for more on the release from my colleague Beau Trincia, VP of User Experience, next week.