What do "humanizing buildings" and "occupant experience" even mean? Sam Biggerstaff and Adrian Weygandt, regional digital building experts for Kontakt.io in the UK and the US respectively, recently joined Product Marketing Manager Aneta Ciurkot to discuss these and other questions centered around the increasing role of technology in the modern workplace. The discussion is a great point of entry into the larger conversation about the fundamental changes that are happening in corporate real estate and the broader work culture around the globe.
The conversation starts off with an examination of the evolving definition of a central concept — "occupant experience". This is a general term to describe the basic relationship between people — or, in a professional context, employees — and their physical environment. The essentials of a good occupant experience include making employees feel safe, helping them to be productive, and providing what they need to succeed at work.
The evolving definition of occupant experience has been heavily influenced by a topic that still seems to dominate so many conversations despite apparently diminishing as a threat — the global pandemic. According to the participants in our webinar, in pre-Covid times optimizing office space was typically a matter of putting more people in the same space. Getting as many people into an office was seen as "optimization". Covid and hybrid work models have obviously changed this approach, with businesses having to right-size their real estate commitments to match the size of their in-office staff. A reference in the discussion to a recent decision by KPMG to significantly reduce their New York City office space illustrates this new reality.
As this topic comes to a close, the focus turns to the different elements of a good occupant experience — the social element (employee interaction with others), the work element (interaction with assigned tasks), and the physical element (interaction with the environment around them).
Getting the right balance of those elements is hard, and that's where the problems start for many employers. In the wake of the pandemic, making employees feel safe is a top priority and being able to show them that concrete changes have been made to support them is key. Other challenges covered by our panelists include improving the employee experience for in-office staff and getting employees to use available tech and cooperate with it instead of ignoring it or being apprehensive about deploying it.
From the employer's perspective, the problems are similar, just viewed from the other side. At the top of this list is security, with growing concerns about what sensitive data or information is discussed or shared outside the workplace. Other challenges include enhancing productivity in an environment of minimal oversight and increased churn among employees who have less of a connection to the work culture of their employees and are more easily distracted by the thought of moving on.
The panel then turns to an examination of how available technologies address these and other issues. First, though, a quick recap of the evolution of previous generations of office tech reminds us how far we've come. We also get a useful reminder of the role of change management and how keeping employees informed about exactly what they get out of the changes and deployments is key.
Following this, the panel touches on measuring the ROI of smart building solutions, how to get started with them, current trends in smart buildings, the types of data you should be collecting, and more. For just a thirty-minute conversation, the participants cover a lot of ground!
This recording conversation is a great resource for anyone looking to learn more about what smart building solutions can do and how to take the first steps toward starting your own project. Just click below to get access and remember that our team of digital building experts is ready to answer any questions you might have!
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