Office buildings are moving forward from the pandemic – and technology is leading the way

Marc DeLuca is CEO of KBFone of the largest investors of prime commercial real estate in the nation.

The pandemic brought about a sudden change in the way people use office space, but crises inevitably inspire innovation, and many companies have successfully adapted to the changing paradigm. The result? Office 2.0, a sleeker and more user-friendly version of the workplace.

We have entered an era of flexibility in how, when and where we work. And technology has created a conduit to this new landscape, creating one that’s more reliable, collaborative, and connection-driven. We are now seeing offices with enhanced amenities such as technology-free zones and yoga spaces, spaces dedicated to brainstorming and teamwork. But it’s more than just that.

Technological advances – from design and architecture to cloud-based communication tools to the science behind integrative wellness – are giving us a renewed mindset around Why we come to the office and what the office gives us that remote working is not possible.

Virtual Reality merges with physical space

With rapid advancements in AI, machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the cloud will increasingly merge with the physical world. Research shows business training innovations in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are expected to ramp up $2.8 billion by 2023. And offices will serve as one space for VR add-on integration.

For example, consultancy Accenture is making an internal app that allows Accenture employees to locate their colleagues who may be on other floors. My company’s 40-story office tower in Chicago, Accenture’s headquarters, eagerly awaits the impact of this type of innovation.

These kinds of internal apps, along with social tech platforms, will help people stay connected with their colleagues while enabling innovation at record speeds while improving satisfaction, retention and recognition in the workplace.

With an increasing number of strategic decisions influenced by technology, creativity (cultivated in the office) will be more important than ever. Advances in machine learning will ease time-consuming work and non-critical tasks, freeing up a lot of time for innovative brainstorming. This means everything from technically automated air quality control to tools that organize meetings, monitor for potential cybercrime and ultimately create a space for individual preferences.

The office as a modern city square

Experiential technology, like the metaverse, recalibrates the office into a place of chic, health-conscious and hip lifestyle trends mixed with high-tech efficiency and the last physical bastion: meeting. While there are doubts, that doesn’t stop companies from setting up a virtual headquarters in the metaverse. Mindgrub Technologies, for example, is already transfer its employees to operate solely from the metaverse, leaving much of its physical space behind. Accounting and consultancy firm Prague Metisvirtual real estate investor Everywhere and financial services provider AMTD International also have an office presence in the metaverse.

However, I believe that people will continue to long for a town square that is a real physical space and a central place to retreat to. Conversely, remote work can promote technical fatigue and loneliness, especially for Gen-Zers who, due to the pandemic, have expressed frustration at not being able to connect with colleagues in what would traditionally have been “the office.” According to Research“Employers need to be ready to take on a rate of evolution to match the external environment,” and interactive technology can bring excitement to the office environment.

Technology as a tool for tenant convenience

The “2022 Office” integrates cloud communications into the design, routine and team building activities within a company. This provides unparalleled tenant convenience.

For example, in several East Coast locations, my company uses an app that coordinates your location with relevant workplace information, including amenities availability and reservations; nearby “hip” places to try; and a range of services, exclusive promos and events.

From my perspective, this multitasking technology reduces stress and increases workflow. Instead of having your car washed and detailed after a long day at work, you can now order a car wash to detail it for you during the day. If you have a large team conference and need to order lunch, it can all be done via an app. Streamlining small processes like this can lead to greater satisfaction.

A Mecca for Tide-Changing Collaboration

Employees now spend approx 50% more time engaging in collaborative work and using online collaboration tools to facilitate increased productivity by: up to 30%† The technology-inspired office space can serve as the foundation for overall improved collaboration, less miscommunication and increased productivity.

Many companies are turning and turning office spaces into high-quality ‘creative hubs’ to give employees a sense of novelty, excitement and inspiration. According to the president and chief people officer of Salesforce in an article from The Wall Street Journal, offices are expected to see: about 60% of the space (paywall) dedicated to collaboration, up 40% before the pandemic. This represents a profound change in architecture, furnishings and spatial orientation, integrating experiential technology into every facet of the space.

Finally

Office 2.0 can be defined as making the most of our physical locations through technology. Developers are adapting to this change by creating high-tech office spaces that meet our growing needs for both technology and a deeper human connection.

Recently, Unilever’s Chief Human Resources Officer said, according to the Journal, “the goal is to make offices more of a destination.” I fully agree with this vision and continue to see technology-enhancing offices as destinations for greater collaboration and success.


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