Creating The Workplace Of The Future Is Now Possible
When the pandemic first arrived, many workers embraced the concept of working from home and the possibility of never returning to the office. Working from home has its perks — gained commute time, proximity to home comforts and greater ability to fit in personal tasks.
But after a while, many started to miss what the office provides.
"Many used to see the workplace as a place to get work done,” said Nellie Hayat, workplace innovation lead for technology provider Density.
“Homes were not considered a place to work from before the pandemic. But the workplace offers more than a desk and an ergonomic chair. It's a curated and inviting environment for colleagues to get together, collaborate, have fun and innovate. And, in turn, make the company a success."
However, people have grown accustomed to the flexibility working from home provides and have a greater demand for choosing when, where and how to work with a reliance on technology. The challenge facing workplace and real estate leaders today is how to plan their real estate needs in the future and how to create spaces that work for each individual.
The answer, Hayat said, is to measure and understand how people use their workplace.
Measuring Hybrid Work
As companies begin to embrace a hybrid workforce model it has become clear that every employee has different needs and styles of working, Hayat said. Some want to meet with colleagues, others need a quiet place to work — others want a combination that suits the task at hand.
However, traditional methods of understanding how people use space are not effective, she said. It can take months to get back the data from a manual workplace study, for example. By that time, employees' relationship with the workplace might have changed — particularly in the hybrid era.
“Workplace utilization data unearths the story behind our spaces,” Hayat said. “It shows how we vote with our feet and where we linger, collide, wander and focus. Other ways of gathering data fall short on what continuous workplace utilization data can deliver.”
Density uses depth-sensing later technology to anonymously measure occupancy in different areas of the building, from doorways to open spaces. The aim is to give complete and continuous coverage that helps workplace and real estate leaders learn more about how their spaces are used. But unlike other workplace utilization technologies, Density is not a camera, Hayat said. It does not capture personally identifiable information and protects privacy.
"Density empowers workplace leaders to create spaces that boost productivity and employee satisfaction," Hayat said. “For example, if your data reveals that your employees frequently switch between deep work and collaborative work — within the same space — you may respond by adding movable furniture so employees can create the environment they need at any given moment.”
The importance of measuring how people use and interact with spaces is already becoming more understood. Hayat said that the way the built environment approaches offices has needed an overhaul for generations — the pandemic merely cast a spotlight on the problem.
“Companies waste millions of dollars on spaces they never use,” she said. “And they do so while trying to reduce the outdated metric of square-foot-per-employee that has driven bottom-line cost savings for decades. The waste in these spaces is unintentional, difficult to identify, and increasingly harmful to an employee experience.”
Now that it is possible to measure the use of space anonymously and continuously, Hayat said workplace and real estate leaders are able to improve workspaces for everybody. As working practices continue to evolve, the use of the right tools will only increase.
This article was produced in collaboration between Density and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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