COVID-19 highlighted how corporate real estate isn’t data-driven; the industry offers a cookie cutter approach and time-intensive tools for many businesses who are now looking to address data on employee needs and public health guidelines for the first time.
Industries have always had innate differences in the ways their employees work and need to use space. COVID-19 proved that for many industries, these old, cookie-cutter approaches like assuming in-office work was essential or assigning every employee to a desk didn’t line up with the reality of work. Some industries like Technology found it was possible to work almost entirely remotely. Others like Biotech couldn’t pause essential in-person work. Our key cross-industry takeaway is that, in reality, every company is now just beginning to understand their unique personnel and space needs.
For businesses who couldn’t go 100% remote, these unique variations demanded smart solutions to quickly adapt office space to social distancing requirements.
Sadly, the tools many businesses were forced to turn to were not efficient for short-term changes, much less long-term strategy.
The reason for this? A lag in the real estate industry over the past decade when it came to integrating smarter solutions into planning practices.
There were key areas in which existing real estate technology — or a jumble of point solutions like spreadsheets— made strategic decision-making difficult for businesses during pandemic phases.
Labor-intensive tools hamper corporate real estate teams in the short term; they're also costly and don’t set businesses up for future planning success.
COVID-19 has proven that the real estate industry needs to be digitally transformed. Better technology will help give organizations strategic insights to address critical basic needs, but also to fully reimagine the workspace.
This is a challenge, but a huge opportunity for the sector as we re-enter the office. Technology that supports the future of workplaces must:
Technology should enable businesses to make better decisions through data. It should move beyond talk of “rings” and enable you to think creatively about overall occupancy. It’s critical to break down data silos to gather company data in one place and dive into what people need to be inspired and engaged at work.
Digital transformation allows businesses to graduate from outdated tools that rely on manual input. It removes opportunities for human error to save time, money, and effort and grow accuracy.
An easily-manipulated floor plan helps teams visualize and understand spaces in a virtual environment. Instead of having to manually update an AutoCAD file every time a floor plan changes, better software lets businesses easily change plans according to dynamic employee needs, which is an excellent investment as they scale.
In today’s changing world, technology must help businesses understand their existing real estate footprint in real-time— organizations should be able to draw on headcount data and be able to quantitatively understand and visualize changes. It should help businesses have a clear view of today to better understand solutions, priorities, and strategies for tomorrow.
The industry has been challenged to grow beyond the one-size-fits-all model and outdated workplace technology. It’s clear that the most successful workplaces will be continuously iterating beyond COVID-19, a future that demands better technology to support the unique needs of modern businesses and their employees.
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