The Leader Magazine

MAR 2019

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the leader March 2019 11 the bane of space planners everywhere. Instead, they concentrate on planning and managing seat and neighborhood assignments to improve productivity, and on being able to quickly reorganize spaces and shift people around to meet changing business needs. They may still track usage for chargebacks, but prefer to do it by headcount or space standards rather than through laboring on "fencing" each individual space. Digitization also enables easy delegation of certain tasks such as seat assignment to business units. This has multiple benefits: it further frees up the workplace team, gives business units more control and flexibility, and helps keep the real world and its digital twin in sync. With the aid of the right technology, planning scenarios become a more collaborative effort, with automated reports showing the occupancy impact of each scenario. Naturally, companies are using technology to improve workplace experience. This often starts in the lobby. Guest registration screens notify hosts of visitors and issue temporary access codes to the guest Wi-Fi network, saving time, increasing security, and reducing frustrating incidents of "who remembers the new guest password?" Meeting rooms now indicate their current availability through display screens that employees can use to book the room on the spot or request facilities service. These display screens offer the added benefit of enhancing the high-tech feel of the office and are very popular despite the added hardware, installation, and maintenance expense. Similarly, wayfinding has evolved from its printed, obsolete-before-the-ink-dried origin, to a new digital incarnation. Large touch screen displays show employees how to find one another, see the real-time availability of hot-desks and huddle spaces, and even book meeting rooms. They are often accompanied by a mobile app offering a visual employee directory, wayfinding, meeting room booking, and issue reporting. Sensors and integrations to interact with building-management systems are slowly making their way into the workplace, too. Following Silicon Valley's standard modus operandi, companies tend to introduce these new technologies gradually and iteratively, going after the highest ROI first. They may start with occupancy sensors in meeting rooms, add them later to hot-desks and huddle spaces, and ultimately work their way towards environmental and lighting controls. A key driver behind these efforts is data-gathering. As the Economist magazine announced in 2017, the world's most valuable resource is no longer oil. It's data. Innovative companies, large and small, are collecting and combining data to gain a complete picture of the workplace, which drives space- management actions and strategic real estate decision-making. They do this by pooling data from traditional sources – attendance data from access-control systems, meeting room utilization from the enterprise calendaring system, operational costs from the general ledger, and headcount changes from the HR systems – and combining it with new data sources such as sensors and Wi-Fi analytics. Going digital may seem daunting, but it's actually easier than it seems. New cloud technologies don't demand much, if any, of IT's time or expensive third-party integrators to deploy or connect data sources. And modern workplace platforms often provide built-in analytics with actionable insights that don't require a data scientist or dedicated analysts. Many of these concepts are not new. Silicon Valley invented little, if any, of this. But, in typical fashion, with their healthy disregard for old practices and their willingness to experiment, Silicon Valley companies are dropping old practices and leveraging technology to gain competitive advantage in a rapidly changing world. And what works well for tech pioneers will work for others. As William Gibson, author of Neuromancer, a nerdy cult book, once said, "The future is already here; it's just not evenly distributed." Noam Livnat is co-founder and chief product and innovation officer of SpaceIQ, a cloud-based workplace data and operations platform.

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