Insights on returning to the office from Robin’s CTO

Brian Muse
Brian Muse

As businesses establish multi-disciplinary workplace departments in greater numbers, we are kicking off a new series featuring Q&A’s with Robin executives tasked with helping our customers implement effective return to office (RTO) strategies. Each person will offer their unique perspectives into their job role’s responsibilities and priorities in executing an effective RTO strategy. First up, Robin CTO Brian Muse discusses the importance of creating a tech-enabled employee experience.

What should be a CTO’s top priorities within an organization’s RTO strategy?

RTO and hybrid workplaces create immense challenges that technology is uniquely suited to solve. However, it’s crucial that businesses have a cohesive employee experience strategy in mind and not implement technology for its own sake. Technology has to reduce friction within the employee experience, not create unnecessary workflows or productivity-sapping processes. Employees have had their fill of video conference calls and other technologies contributing to a state of digital exhaustion. 

Employees are asking for hybrid work because they’re looking to unplug and have human connections again. CTOs must work with facilities, IT, and HR to design a workplace experience that makes the workplace seamless, simple, and highly mobile so employees can focus on performing their jobs well with their preferred devices. Mobility is vital within the hybrid workplace. 

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge in seamlessly blending the offline and digital workplace?

The hardest part of creating a seamless hybrid workplace is to simplify the employee experience. For that to work well, technology has to eliminate work from the user. Tight integrations with the full hybrid stack are necessary, including building access, meeting spaces, desks, and workspaces. Employees want to manage their workweek from a single (primarily mobile) interface. They want to know when their teammates will be in the office, their desk location, and how they can quickly book collaborative spaces to make the most of their time. Businesses that can’t make this process intuitive will experience difficulties in bringing people back to the office.

Many of our customers experienced difficulty blending their physical and digital workplaces before implementing Office Pass. Tools like interactive office maps provide employees with insights into what’s going on in the office and create a sense of “being there” and office FOMO. 

What are the tech considerations many CTOs either aren’t aware of or underestimate in their organization’s RTO strategy?

There’s a tendency by many tech leaders to lean towards back-of-the-house key performance indicators (KPIs) and efficiencies as it relates to real estate and management tools. While it is essential to create transparency in the workplace, it can’t be tech leaders’ sole focus. CTOs must prioritize the employee experience to execute a successful RTO strategy.

2020 inverted the traditional workplace model. Businesses were previously reluctant to enable remote work because they were afraid people wouldn’t work if they didn’t have direct oversight from their bosses. That philosophy turned out to be false as employees were more productive and enjoyed better work-life integration. Businesses need to re-evaluate the utility of their office space as employees have grown accustomed to the benefits of working from home and aren’t going to be receptive to going back to ‘business as usual.’ 

Hybrid workplaces represent a modern, tech-enabled model that offers employees the best of both worlds if rolled out properly. Innovative businesses transformed their workspace into an interactive ‘clubhouse’ where employees collaborate with colleagues on essential projects and utilize company resources while heading home for focus work. Our research has shown that Americans prefer to work in the office twice a week, and CTOs must ensure their strategies accommodate this new, highly mobile environment. Businesses that revert to the traditional workplace model and focus on commercial real estate efficiencies risk adverse effects on retention, work culture, and employee engagement.

CTOs must not ignore the employee experience. The office needs to be somewhere that people want to visit to perform optimally, or else they’re likely leaving the company. Tech-enabled RTO empowers workplace leaders to minimize employee stress from the office and generate greater productivity and engagement from the workforce. 


Interested in learning more? Our second installment is out now! Hear from Robin CRO Carl Oliveri as he offers workplace leaders insights into eliminating friction to attract workers back to the office.