Emerging CRE Tech for Workplace Space Optimization

CRE tech and the digital ecosystem

In a recent report, JLL and Unwork describe the “digital ecosystem” that has emerged in recent years from quantum leaps in computing power, billions of smart devices, pervasive connectivity and seemingly limitless quantities of data. Without question, these technological advances and connectivity will continue to grow exponentially in the years to come, transforming the way businesses work.

Emerging CRE Tech for Workplace Space Optimization | active employees

That’s why, given the digital ecosystem, workplaces need to provide additional value for organizations that was never anticipated in years past. Pressure to reduce property costs will remain a given, but at the same time CRE organizations must optimize workplaces to enable innovation, attract talent, improve employee wellbeing and workplace experience.

It’s a tall order to say the least. Since technology has been the driver behind these new demands, it’s only natural that organizations are turning to CRE tech to help them re-imagine their workplaces.

Emerging CRE tech is not only changing the way organizations manage space optimization, but also why they are doing it and the wider impact it can have on the business.

Workplace space optimization: it’s not just about cost savings anymore

As technology transforms business operations, what does the modern workplace need to look like? Office spaces are now becoming the venue where people come together (both physically and remotely–again enabled by technology) to collaborate. The old-style cubicle farms with a sea of employees doing their own thing is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Instead, employees along with partners and contingent workers come together to share and combine their talents to create the new products, services and ideas the company needs to remain competitive.

As a result, the goal of space optimization is no longer about cramming as many desks as possible into a space to reduce property costs. As worker mobility increases, as many as 60 percent (or more) of those desks sit empty in the traditional office space. Space optimization, and the CRE tech needed to support it, is now focused on creating dynamic spaces that meet the needs of the modern workforce and match the way they work in the digital ecosystem.

CRE tech drives space optimization with utilization data

Here’s one huge change that’s transforming offices: the rise of agile working spaces. These environments do away with assigned desks in favor of more flexible spaces where workers choose to work based on what they need to accomplish (and the people they need to work with) at any given time. These spaces are increasingly popular because they are designed for new ways of working, while also reducing space costs at the same time.

Learn more: Agile Working Benefits Moving Beyond the Dollars

Planning and implementing agile working spaces requires a significant shift in mindset, along with new CRE tech for capturing and analyzing data.

The mindset shift is moving companies away from tracking occupancy (bodies to seats) and traditional metrics (cost per square foot) to measuring utilization, or how space is actually being used. That data is essential for planning a new agile space fit-out, and for understanding the effectiveness of the new space: how well is it meeting the needs of the workforce?

Here are some emerging CRE tech essentials for meeting modern workplace goals in the digital ecosystem.

CRE TECH: Sensor technology

Creating agile environments requires a deep understanding of your workforce, down to the team level, and what they need in the workplace to meet their objectives. Those needs are going to vary greatly, depending on many factors, including:

  • The complexity and diversity of the team’s work
  • Need for the team to respond quickly to changing priorities and initiatives
  • The amount of collaboration needed and desired
  • The makeup of the team: mix of FTE, partners and contingent workers
  • Physical locations of team members

Sensors and other types of utilization tracking Technology allows you to track how different teams use space, not only over a month or even a day, but even throughout the course of the day. That data helps you plan fit-outs with the right mix of spaces for each team, and track the effectiveness over time so you can make adjustments as things change.

There’s a wide variety of technology available to collect this data: desk sensors, lighting sensors, beacons, ID badges and network sensors. Deployment of this technology is getting easier all the time: you can now get light-powered sensors that work without wires or batteries.
Learn more about the available technologies: Managing Workplace Utilization

Download the Complete Guide to Managing Workplace Utilization Guide

CRE TECH: Business intelligence platforms

If you’ve looked into utilization tracking technology, you may already realize that you’ll need a mix of different technologies to collect all the different types of data you need to make decisions. Then the challenge becomes aggregating data from different sources into one business intelligence tool that makes sense of all of it.

A best-in-class workplace management system provides that central source of truth for all your CRE data, including utilization data from multiple sources. Here are a few essential features to look:

  • Ability to aggregate a variety of data sources to provide actionable intelligence reports
  • Heatmaps that let you see what’s happening up-to-the-minute in a given area
  • Dashboards showing real-time utilization data
  • Ability to roll up or drill down as needed to see the required level of granularity

CRE TECH: Next generation space management

Now that you’re powered by utilization data and smart tools to help you make space optimization decisions, you need modern space planning tools to act on those decisions.

Here are a few things that set the leaders apart when it comes to CRE tech for modern space management:

1. Support for neighborhoods and unassigned seating

Many older space planning systems (provided by traditional IWMS providers) are designed to support only occupancy or “bodies to seats.” That severely limits you in a modern flexible environment. Instead, look for modern CRE tech with the ability to assign a team to a neighborhood and manage ratios in an agile environment.

2. Native integration with utilization technologies

Your CRE organization needs to be as agile as your environment (and the teams you support). So if you need to go through a lot of manual data manipulation to get answers from your utilization tracking, that’s going to cost you both in time and money. Modern CRE tech tools are built on standard platforms that can integrate seamlessly with the utilization tracking technology you choose.

3. Features for building business relationships & reducing CRE workload

Imagine if you could get your business units to voluntarily update their team information? Impossible? Not at all with modern CRE tech that makes it quick & easy for business units to update their CRE data. Why would they do so? Because in turn, you can give them tools that make their job easier and improve employee experience.

Learn more: The 8 Superpowers You Need for Office Space Management

The best part? You can use those CRE tech tools to build better working relationships, provide better service to your teams, earn the trust of leaders, and win a seat at the strategic planning table.

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Ian Morley

My role is focused on promoting and integrating all of the great work that we do. For over ten years we have helped to revolutionize the way workplaces are run - modernizing the way space is managed and how employees interact with their work environment. As a cofounder, it is my great pride to continue to bring our team, clients and partners together as we continue to build the future of workplace management.
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