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5 Key Innovations Driving the Future of Work

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Albert Einstein once mused that “if at first an idea is not absurd, then there will be no hope for it.” Throwing caution to the wind (with appropriate restraint) and discovering transformative new ways of doing things is the only way forward in the workplace of the future.

Our CEO Gabrielle McMillan agrees, and recently posed an interesting question: “What if more sought-after services were provided by the building owner or the building manager, and consumed holistically by the tenant, rather than the tenant having to invest energy and resources into organising their own services?”

Herein lies a very interesting value proposition – one sure to unlock additional value for both ends of the real estate equation. Folding the costs of employee comforts into the rent unlocks what Gabrielle calls an “experience-led, human-led, people-oriented way of managing buildings”. In other words: an innovative future of work set to welcome unprecedented business benefits (and one we’re more than willing to partake in).

After all, as HR specialist Natasha Mascarenhas once mused, “we are only as good as our people.” The future is founded on tenant engagement, and these 5 examples of innovation in the workplace show us how:

1. Hot, Hotter, Hotdesk: The evolution of co-working and flexibility  

The working experience was often confined to a cubicle, but recent years have welcomed a breakout from compartmentalised environments as hot-desking trends appeared. We’ve knocked down walls in favour of open office building of the future and embraced mobility – instigating innovations in architecture, interior design and office behaviours.

Why this preference for constant inconsistency? Unassigned desks encourage: mingling with previously-segregated colleagues, refreshing changes of scenery and a general sense of vitality and freedom. Unchaining employees from their desks also enables remote work when needed. In fact, studies show that almost half of workers have left or would leave a job if it didn’t afford them the flexibility to work from home.

Other studies show that even back in 2014, more than 72% of businesses who’d moved to co-working spaces were forecasting increases in revenue and productivity. By way of example, the Genesis Housing Association (UK) opted to engage a flexible working environment, and saw their accommodation costs drop by up to £1billion year on year.

2. Harvesting a higher yield with technology

There is an increasing acknowledgement from the property community that they need to be implementing technology: in order to stay relevant, better connect with their customers, and maximise a higher yield from flexible spaces.

Technological offerings include those like Equiem. In the same way that intranets enable clear and free communication within immediate business circles, macro solutions that connect disparate companies are an effective engagement tool: with Equiem, landowners can increase value for their tenants and building managers through exclusive services, amenities and the curation of a customised online platform.

The Equiem Portal at Rialto dramatically improved communication and tenant engagement

Equiem was, in essence, a micro-intranet built to service Lorenz Grollo’s Rialto tower in Melbourne – custom-designed to meet its needs with a platform that fostered tenant engagement and helped bring the 25-year-old building back to competitive relevance.

Other technological advances include network, software and mobile device innovation to enable mobility and remote work. And in the current era of technological innovation, anything is possible. But while we’re in favour of experimenting, technology has to be safe, secure and properly maintained. And Gabrielle reiterates that “the best technology is invisible. There's no friction. It just works. And makes our lives easier each day.”

3. Spaces: Servicing needs with empty seats

In any large-scale working environment, empty space has the potential to add value through activations, breakouts, meetings and recreation. And with attempts to fold tenant engagement costs into rent, using vacant spaces innovatively is a relative no-brainer to improve value propositions for both workplaces and properties.

Music rooms, exercise spaces, meditation or “chill” zones and end of trip facilities are all popular ways to repurpose unused areas for greater employee satisfaction and workplaces health. Skype’s Californian headquarters are a prime example using space to improve employee satisfaction, boasting minimalist chill zones and a kitted-out game room (foosball table included).

Skype HQ in Palo Alto (Image Credit: www.designblitzsf.com)

And Equiem's Spaces product – a feature on our Portals – helps landlords to expand this into their own buildings, enabling them to put vacant offices up for rent, like "an AirBnB for meeting rooms." Tenants can host events, organise activations and make any short-term extensions a reality with ease.

4. Health and wellbeing is key

Employees (driven by an insurgence of millennials) have renewed demands about work-life balance. These expectations have driven innovation in both physical structures and processes in traditional working practices.

End of trip facilities are seemingly compulsory, enabling employees to ride to work or partake in physical activities within their work day. Extended vacations, flexible working hours and even in-house services like free yoga classes, exercise classes or lunchtime running groups.

In partnership with Bupa, Australian real estate giant Investa recently launched their holistic wellbeing program - offering both physical activations (meditation classes and nutrition consultations) and online resources via their Equiem-run Insite Portal (information, advice and assessments).

5. Knowledge is power: the era of data collection

While all this innovation is great, it has little meaning if we don’t understand the people it affects. Data capture is a key driver for landlords and business leaders in terms gauging feedback from tenants and employees, as well as learning simple previous unknowns: who works in the building, where they come from and how many of them there are.

Physical means of collecting data, as well as technological platforms like Equiem, provide access to this valuable data, and allow businesses and buildings to make informed decisions. Equiem's new "Cortex" app is sort of like a Google Analytics tool for buildings – helping property owners understand tenant behaviour with ease.

Equiem Cortex allows property managers to understand tenant behaviours and needs

In the UK, Network Rail implemented straightforward data collection strategies to assess employee wellbeing and track mental health. With confidential online assessments (which more than 20% of staff participated in), leaders could detect stress amongst teams and then develop programmes to address the issues at hand.

Continuous innovation through community

Innovative workplace solutions are about people rather than bricks and mortar – and about finding ways to extract value for the landlord by driving deeper connections and a better experience for all involved.

Equiem’s main mission is to help buildings and organisations harness the benefits of community, culture and collaboration. And our fellow start-ups agree:

  • Brent Harman (from fellow start-up Atlassian) notes that “curating an experience and sense of community - that’s what’s needed in the workplace.”
  • MIT’s Kristine Dery believes that “space is just a component. Employee experience requires connection and responsive leadership.”
  • And Lee Valentine from Hoyne encourages the industry to “connect people with place. Tenants, employees, visitors, asset owners. Building a community and culture.”

After all, we’re working in an era where retaining tenants is much more complex than offering a great salary package. In an attempt to keep occupants satisfied, a community-driven approach (backed up by flexibility, technology, data, employee wellbeing and better use of space) is leading the way.

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Find out more about how we fuse technology and people to provide exceptional customer experiences at www.getequiem.com/engage

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