3D Visualization Technology Can Ease The Anxiety Of Redesigning For The New Office Environment
This model, where employees spend some days in the office and others working from home, is booming in popularity thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s leaving many company owners questioning their office layout and how they can adjust it to accommodate a hybrid workforce. As companies mull how to change their space, office landlords are wondering how they can convince tenants that they have the right building to meet their needs.
“People are constantly asking me 'how should I set up my office to suit a hybrid model?' or 'how can I set up my office to encourage social distancing?'" said Scott Harmon, co-founder and CEO of proptech company Swivel. “The time has come to rethink the office format, and landlords need to show tenants that they are up to the task of changing with the times.”
Swivel creates 3D virtual tours and customized space plans that allow tenants to digitally walk through multiple variations of an office space. Virtual tours have become a crucial marketing tool for landlords during the pandemic. The company is now solving the challenges posed by the hybrid workforce model by debuting new features that allow tenants to simulate different office layouts, including layouts optimized for Covid safety or for a hybrid workforce.
Harmon said that the first iteration of Swivel was focused on the beginning of the tenant life cycle, the pre-lease stage, when tenants are still deciding between offices. But now, the office culture has changed dramatically, and tenants need the ability to plan for the future and plan for a rapidly changing workforce.
Swivel’s new features not only help tenants visualize what their space could look like before they move in, but those features also allow them to easily consider design changes long after they have signed a lease.
With the updates to Swivel’s platform, tenants can enter in a wide range of details about their company, from the number of employees, to how many days they expect employees to be in the office, to the size of meetings they intend to have in conference rooms. Then, Swivel’s AI-powered platform will generate an optimal layout, complete with furniture and design options, that tenants can use as a jumping-off point or turn into a reality.
The platform also allows for online collaboration between architects, leasing professionals and tenants, so they can easily trade ideas during the construction phase.
“Before it used to just be 'how many desks do you want, how many conference room tables,' and that was it,” Harmon said. “Now we’re trying to learn more about how an office will actually operate, and help tenants design spaces to meet that reality.”
Landlords can also use Swivel to help companies design layouts that accommodate social distancing, with additional walls, desk barriers or any other pandemic-related changes they are planning on making to keep their employees safe. Research shows that 1 in 4 employees would sooner leave their jobs than return to an office that has not made safety changes as a result of the pandemic.
Before tenants make any changes, they need to consider their budget. The pandemic has left many companies operating on razor-thin margins, and they may not have the funds to construct a new office, or even renovate their existing one, without being sure they are making the right moves. With Swivel, as tenants view different layouts and furniture options, the platform updates to give them a clear estimate of how much it will cost.
“Construction and furnishing a Class-A office space, on average, costs $150 per square foot,” Harmon said. “Getting that wrong is a huge financial loss. Being able to evaluate the cost of different layouts is a huge benefit for tenants.”
Harmon added that many tenants have expressed that they want offices to become reservable — instead of everyone having a dedicated desk, people and teams can check in and check out space as teams. Swivel can also help with this, since it has a feature that makes booking space and amenities simple, adding to the ways it can make life easier for tenants once they are already occupying a space, even further into the tenant life cycle.
These new tenant needs have highlighted how much the modern office is changing. It is no longer a place employees are mandated to come to every day, but rather a place they can choose to utilize to boost collaboration and communication on an as-needed basis.
“The idea that the office is elective is radical,” Harmon said. “I don’t think we’ve begun to understand how much employees are going to enjoy this hybrid model, and as employee needs continue to change, tenants will need an easy way to change offices along with them.”
This article was produced in collaboration between Swivel and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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