Commercial real estate was beginning a big transformation before the pandemic hit in 2020. Technological innovations necessitated a shift towards more automation and improved processes across the real estate sector. While this evolution was in motion, COVID-19 hit and accelerated the expectation of change.
Suddenly, offices were empty and CRE leaders were left wondering what the future of their properties might look like. As we climb our way out of the pandemic, one thing remains clear: technology is a critical component of progress.
According to JLL’s Future of Work Survey, by 2025, 78% of companies plan to invest in 10 of 15 technologies identified as anchors for hybrid work transformation. These solutions include things like workplace apps to virtual collaboration platforms.
In order to address the evolving role of the office, accommodate employee choice and ensure continued connection and collaboration, property owners will need the right tools in their corner. Without enabling technology, offices are likely to remain empty, meaning leases could go unfilled.
How Workplace Experience Platforms Benefit CRE
It’s not so much a question of whether or not to offer flexibility but rather how. JLL’s survey found that over half of companies plan to implement a hybrid model in order to offer employees more choice in where they work throughout the week. For some perspective, a mere 8% of companies offered this option pre-pandemic.
Flexibility is here to stay so how can companies encourage employees to get back together without forcing their hand? Turn to workplace experience.
In CRE, this looks like property owners working to understand occupant preferences and creating spaces that will not only facilitate work but also:
- Engage employees
- Impress tenants
- Increase the value of their portfolio
Technology can help with that. With the right platforms, they can not only better understand occupancy rates but provide tenants with the information and tools they need to encourage office activity and engage their teams.
Let’s take a closer look at how workplace experience platforms can have a positive impact for CRE leaders, their properties and their tenants.
1. Give Tenants the Tools They Need to Engage People with Physical Spaces
Tenants and owners both want spaces to be filled. Tenants want their teams together so they can connect, collaborate and build community. Owners want people in their spaces so they can get the most of their investment. The reason a building has value is because people want to use it.
In order to engage people with the office, you need a strong stack of tools and incentives in place. Did you know that people are 64% more likely to go into the office if they know their team will be there?
When tenants provide their teams with the right information, they can book desks and spaces based on who they want to interact with. Workplace experience platforms provide visibility into office rosters, events and activity, making it easier for employees to coordinate with each other. Because, let’s face it, nothing is worse than getting to the office just to see a sea of empty desks.
Tenants also need to make the experience of coming in as simple and streamlined as possible. Part of this is about how easy it is to reserve a space and get around the office. The best platforms offer mobile apps with easy-to-use product screens that enable people to locate available space and book right from their phone. When using the Robin platform, employees are 2.5x more likely to come into the office.
The added bonus? The right tools help leaders collect data on office activity and employee sentiments which can then drive decisions around workplace strategy.
Bottom line: Workplace experience platforms help remove barriers to coming into office and provide peer-to-peer information that helps encourage attendance.
2. Understand Future Needs and Reimagine Spaces
If the pandemic taught us anything it’s that things change fast. That’s why it’s critical to have tools in your corner that can help you forecast future needs, change plans quickly and adjust processes accordingly.
Workplace analytics provide CRE leaders with the insights they need not only to help tenants and inform engagement strategies but also to better understand what the future holds. From resourcing needs to utilization forecasting, leaders can pinpoint areas of potential risk and opportunity for the year to come.
According to EY, 92% of real estate owners consider data analytics to be the single most important feature they want from their technology. Yet, only 35% have adopted or developed a tool to date. Workplace experience platforms help property owners dig deeper into how their spaces are actually being used.
Data around popular spaces, busiest weekdays and correlations between bookings and other initiatives give leaders the insights they need to create spaces that will actually be used. Leaders can shape the workforce by uncovering deep insights into utilization and office behavior to make real-time, impactful adjustments.
Bottom line: Data should drive your decisions. The right workplace experience platforms ensure you have the information you need to make smarter, cost-saving decisions.
3. Bridge the Tenant-Owner Communication Gap
One of the most important priorities for a property owner is their relationship with tenants. As with any business, CRE leaders have a responsibility to their customers, in this case, those are the people that occupy their spaces.
Workplace experience platforms provide insights into an array of workplace analytics that can help steer engagement strategies for your tenants. Getting into a regular practice of sharing analytics and utilization insights can not only help tenants increase office engagement but helps form the foundation for a stronger tenant-owner relationship.
The right platform can also provide a singular channel for communication about changes to properties, maintenance scheduling and other key pieces of information that need to be passed on. The landlord providing the platform to the tenant as part of the lease results in more transparency into utilization and helps both parties work toward better communication.
Bottom line: Workplace experience platforms help property owners maintain strong lines of communication with tenants.
Technology Powers CRE Evolution
The pandemic pushed forward a new era of work, one where people have more choice and leaders have more responsibility for creating spaces that inspire engagement.
When it comes to hybrid work and space utilization, there is no one-size fits all solution. In fact, some companies plan to increase their real estate footprint by as much as 30% while others plan to reduce their real estate needs by as much as 30%, according to JLL.
Your strategy will depend on the reality of your spaces. The only way to get a complete picture of what your properties need is to invest in technology that helps you tell that story. To learn more about how a workplace experience platform can take your spaces from empty to engaging, reach out to Robin today.