Podium Property Insights: State Of The Workplace - Blending Digital And Physical
Is going into the workplace important?
It’s been well discussed about how workplaces will play a role in the future of work. You can’t have a conversation catching up with friends or acquaintances without someone asking “are you going back in yet?”, “how many days are you spending at home?” or “where are you most productive?”. Views on the future of work are polarising, yet for officer workers, the topic is undoubtedly front of mind.
We don’t need reminding about how incredibly disruptive, stressful and uncertain that period has been. Now we have come out the other side, it’s time to come up for air, reflect on how far we have come, and think about how our post-COVID work world should look.
What is the purpose of workplaces in a post-COVID world? Do the people managing workplaces have the right tools to make informed decisions? And what role can software play in bringing people back to the office?
Workplaces have changed – and so have the people that occupy them
The workplace paradigm has changed indefinitely:
- 52% of leaders are considering a switch to remote or hybrid in the year ahead (Microsoft; Work Trend Index; 2022)
- 50% of employers are planning to incorporate >10% flexible office space in next 2 years (CBRE; Awakening an Era of Flexibility; 2022)
- 56% of organisations have started a corporate real estate strategy to decarbonise (JLL; Decarbonising the Built Environment; 2021)
With a meaningful shift to hybrid, flex and decarbonised offices, organisations have had to re-think how spaces are designed, how to operate efficiently and how they can continue to attract and retain top talent. Employee experience and sustainability have never been more important as corporates rethink how to optimise their real estate spend, improve culture and strive towards their net zero targets.
C Suite taking notice
CEOs are rethinking how to embed culture in a hybrid world, asking how they can leverage their real estate to bolster their employee value proposition to attract and retain talent amidst the Great Resignation.
COOs and CFOs are asking how they can structure their real estate leases, employee perks and facility operations to optimise cost and productivity.
Chief People Officers are wondering how they can ‘earn the commute’ of employees and how they can foster collaboration in the hybrid workplace.
At the centre of these priorities is the workplace manager – whose role has morphed from being a predominantly operations-focused to being experience-focused. They are questioning how they can create a healthy, sustainable officer environment, tasked with creating a great employee experience in a dynamic and unpredictable environment, yet their systems are archaic, lacking timely access to data.
Problems with the industry
No matter whose job it is now, we know companies are looking for a data driven approach to managing the hybrid office. However, we have noticed a few roadblocks in the way to getting this right:
- The landscape of solutions is incredibly complex, with a mix of point solutions that don’t solve problems across the value chain, and large incumbents that have failed to innovate and invest in a user experience (that’s not from the 90’s)…
- It’s really difficult getting data out of buildings and workplaces…
- Where some solutions are good at bringing together different data sources, they are rarely surfacing up the right data for users, leading to data overload and decision paralysis…
- Large divergence in solutions that provide actionable insights – many will say they do, but really they are just surfacing up metrics of low value…and
- Very limited array of solutions that offer a predictive capability.
So, we set about doing something to solve these problems.
Introducing Podium Property Insights for workplaces
Podium Property Insights unlocks insights to shape places where people and business thrive. Powered by intelligence, Podium Property Insights is a SaaS solution that consolidates fragmented data across workplace and building systems to drive actionable insights for workplace managers and leaders.
Podium Property Insights enables Workplace Teams to operate with greater velocity through timely access to data and insights via a single source of truth. It empowers client executives to make strategic decisions to enable the ‘Future of Work’ experience in their organisation by visualising important data and providing actionable insights.
Some of the table stakes features that we know workplace managers need on a daily basis include:
- Space utilisation
- Meeting room utilisation
But where we saw a divergence in the market is the ability to go down to more specific information on employees, such as:
- Information on teams
- Metrics broken down to each floor
As well as the ability to start tracking sustainability and energy usage on the path to net zero.
But we also identified some clear opportunities to differentiate ourselves in the market by:
- Tracking and measuring employee sentiment towards the workplace
- Identifying areas within the workplace to improve on
- Allowing workplace managers to track the performance of their physical workplace initiatives and compare this against relevant space, sustainability, and sentiment metrics – providing a clear link between the physical and digital.
But our best features are in the backlog and will be developed over the coming quarters - further entrenching our differentiation and solving more customer pain points, such as:
- Richer and more meaningful insights & recommendations, as well as future planning capabilities driven by AI (artificial intelligence) / ML (machine learning) intelligence engine
- Ability to run forecasts and scenario analysis
- Curated marketplace with plug n play solutions such as compatible sensors to provide deeper, more accurate insights, and employee experience apps
- Smarter sustainability tools to help corporates reduce decarbonise their workplaces
- Deeper insights on teams, roles and demographics
- Weather and transport data to drive AI / ML intelligence
Feedback from customers
In less than 6 months, we developed an MVP for our first beta customers across Lendlease and Accenture, and we are live at International Tower 3 and International House in Barangaroo, Raffles Plaza in Singapore and Campus Kronberg in Germany. Soon, we will roll out our solution across the rest of Accenture and Lendlease’s Australian corporate real estate to prove the product for external customers.
Already, we are starting to see some great feedback from our initial customers and users:
“I can see myself logging in and using this on a day-to-day basis”
“I love it, the UX is great and intuitive”
“After seeing this, makes you kind of sick thinking about the time we spent preparing the same information”
Insights to help you zoom in to the office
In Kronberg, Podium Property Insights identified the most booked and least booked meeting rooms, and spurred our beta customers to ask employees why – it turned out to be a simple fix – people just didn’t like the high chairs! Employees were also preferring to attend on Wednesdays, while Monday was the least attended day.
At International House in Barangaroo, people are averaging 1.6 days per week in the office, with Thursday the highest attended day of the week. Floor 6 is the most popular floor, either the preferred floor of Growth Markets (by far the highest attending team) or since it is the top floor and offers the best views!
In Singapore, the return to work is gaining momentum – the week ending 3 June more than doubled the occupancy from the prior week (+113%)! In terms of employee sentiment, office cleanliness was great, while office perks was the lowest scoring, presenting an opportunity to improve experience and attendance.
Armed with happy customers, a successful MVP and 2 additional releases, we are now open for business from external customers (and ready to scale)!
Just don’t forget the physical!
While we are seeing workplaces in desperate need of data and insights to help better manage spaces and improve experiences, software cannot solve the entire problem. We still need well designed workplaces with comfortable desks, large monitors and engaging events to help bring us back and earn the commute. It can however help you to measure the success of your engaging events, for example, how has my occupancy changed as a result of offering free lunches on Mondays or social drinks on Fridays? And it can help to measure sentiment of your employees towards your workplace, what is bringing people into the office and which areas you can improve on. Podium Property Insights enables workplace managers to make better, informed decisions to improve employee experience – but just make sure all the monitors are working and that the fruit bowl is full while you’re at it!
Author: Matt Turner
- Offering a dynamic view of data, contextual user dashboards allow workplace managers to make data-driven space utilisation decisions – and track the impact of their initiatives – to ensure they are best meeting the needs of both employees and the business.
- Forecasting workplace attendance in the "new normal" is more important than ever, allowing businesses to right-size their investment in office space with confidence, while still best-meeting the needs of their people.
- Accelerated access to data has cemented the property industry’s place in the digital age, yet the overwhelming volume and fragmentation of available data makes it difficult to extract meaning and actionable insights.