5 things workplace innovators have in common

Companies that provide engaging workplaces are rewarded with happy, productive employees.

There is no doubt that how and where we work is changing. The evolution of the modern workplace is being driven by demographics, the growing gig economy, and technology trends that are making smart buildings even smarter.

Helping to push the changes forward even faster are companies we call workplace innovators. From global brands like IBM, Microsoft and LinkedIn to Alley, a leader in the emerging area of co-working office services, these organizations offer workplace solutions that lead the way in helping people to do their best work. IBM, for example, has embraced co-working and occupies an entire WeWork building in downtown Manhattan for 600 employees.

The office of the future

No matter how you slice it, commercial office tenancy is evolving and the standard 10-year lease is losing steam in favour of more flexible arrangements. It only makes sense when you consider the average lifespan of a Fortune 500 company has slipped from 33 years in 1965 to 18 years in 2013 -- and is expected to be around 14 years by 2026.

Retaining top talent while balancing profits and losses requires high quality, flexible office spaces where companies can foster culture and grow on a timeline that makes business sense. Organizations of all sizes need engaging workplaces where employees are happy and productive.

Innovation comes into play because this is happening in era of shrinking company lifecycles and erratic headcount, where long-term leases add unnecessary stress to the bottom line. It’s part of the reason for the co-working trend in large organizations like IBM. Because not only does shared office space keep overhead down, it connects people in an “entrepreneurial network” that makes it natural to collaborate and learn from each other.

The common thread among workplace innovators

What we notice about leaders in workplace innovation is that they have five things in common:

1. Optimized food service. As we’ve learned through our client dining experience matters to companies that want to engage employees. Microsoft has taken employee dining on its corporate campus headquarters to the next level. And is using location intelligence to help its food service operator improve the dining experience for employees, optimize food choices, increase participation rates, schedule staff more effectively, and maximize profitability.

2. Immediate, mobile-first experiences. Today’s uber-connected workforce expects a mobile-first workplace experience. While WiFi that delivers seamless connectivity is essential, connecting to services seamlessly is an emerging expectation.  Location-based mobile apps that help teams locate available meeting rooms, navigate campus, or find the campus health clinic improve accessibility for everyone.

3. Real-time insights find new ways to work and drive productivity. Data is the lifeblood of the modern enterprise and the digital workplace is now characterized by unified offline/online communications that keep people connected so they can access tools and information anytime, anywhere. Location platforms surface information about meeting room availability, printer locations -- even peak wait times for the cafeteria -- to help workers plan more efficiently throughout the day.

4. Responsive services that attract, motivate and retain employees. The intensifying war for talent means that top candidates are more choosy about where they work. By offering a progressive, innovative workplace environment that provides flexibility and choice, employers provide a desirable culture that supports multiple work styles.

5. Efficient office buildings that adapt to customer / tenant needs. Smart buildings are getting smarter as technology continues to evolve. Monitoring trends in space usage, occupancy patterns and traffic flow enables more flexibility and capacity optimization in commercial real estate. With this information, companies are better able to plan for growth and changes, as well as respond to needs more quickly. They can be proactive in building maintenance, operations, and staffing requirements; connect teams more efficiently to support collaboration; improve people’s comfort levels with customizable, responsive temperature controls; and save energy costs with sensor-based lighting and temperature settings that adjust based on presence.


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