Space as a service

Just as all workforces are different, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the hybrid office. The only constant is that it needs to be a truly hybrid and integrated environment, rather than treating some segments of the workplace as separate and/or more legitimate than others

– Terry a O’Neal

As the rise of the hybrid office forever changes the relationship between organisations and their workspace, workplace providers and managers need to stop offering basic space as a product, and instead deliver “smart” space as a managed service

– Molière

“The impact of the pandemic and the Great Resignation means that workspaces must transform, from somewhere that employees have to go into somewhere that employees want to go,”, says PropTech consultant Antony Slumbers. This means the business real estate industry must become more people-focused and understand employee’s wants and needs better than ever. Rather than simply providing space, they must also provide a productive workforce. “Steve Jobs said you should start with the customer and work backwards to design the technology,” Slumbers says. “The same must apply in real estate, you must start with the user experience and work back to create the right environment.” As part of this transformation, the workspace industry must view itself as a managed service industry, similar to the way cloud service providers deliver managed IT infrastructure which can scale and adapt to meet the changing needs of their customers. “The future of workspace revolves around flexibility,” Slumbers says. “With this comes a huge opportunity within real estate to develop new service-based business models.” “For one possible model, look to the way RollsRoyce transformed from simply selling jet engines to providing engines-as-a-service with “power by the hour” service agreements.” Optimising workspace to meet the needs of business, teams and employees means looking beyond concepts like hot-desking, which focused on efficiency at the expense of effectiveness and employee satisfaction. The changing nature of work, with the impact of artificial intelligence in the workplace, means that more structured, repeatable and predictable work will be handled by machines. This will free up people to work on higher-value tasks which require a human touch, just as the introduction of electronic spreadsheets saw accountants transform from human calculators into business advisors. “When more employees are using those right-brain creative skills, rather than simply crunching numbers, you’ve got to put them in healthy workspaces to ensure their productivity,” Slumbers says. Solutions like Lendlease Digital’s Podium Property Insights are the key to providing space as a managed service which is monitored and optimised to meet the change needs of a business and its employees. “The best buildings are going to generate more money than ever before,” Slumbers says. “Many organisations might need less space, but it needs to be a much better space which is monitored and optimised for their people in order to increase occupancy, utilisation and satisfaction.” “Leasing small spaces on shorter leases, but charging more because they’re higher quality spaces, changes the value proposition and breaks the link between simple square footage and price.”