How to Embrace The ‘Space As A Service’ Model

by Elizabeth Dukes on February 27, 2018

Slowly but surely, we are moving away from a lifestyle based on physical objects. Our pictures and music don’t exist as albums or CDs; they’re photo streams and MP3 files. Documents don’t live in a file cabinet; they live in the cloud. Software isn’t something you install on your computer; it’s a solution you access from a remote server.

This shift from intangibility in favor of greater access and flexibility has also spread into the workplace. Today’s workforce, particularly Millennials, empowered by the sharing economy and technology, increasingly favors a workplace empowered by technology. And as the percentage of Millennials in the workplace grows, the business world has no choice but to welcome this new corporate paradigm.

How does this manifest itself for workplace leaders and property managers? As the concept of “space as a service.” Here’s how this new workplace model is impacting traditional office spaces and how your organization can benefit from it.

How Space As a Service Is Changing The Way We Work

As the price of real estate continues to skyrocket and long-term leases become less appealing, more companies are capitalizing on the profitability of renting space as a commodity. Companies like WeWork, which leases and sublets more than 3 million square feet of space as a service, have assumed a property management role.

They provide employees with all the perks they’ve come to expect in a traditional office space —high-speed Internet, snacks, printers, activity-based working spaces—and more. The “space as a service” model is even extending to residential space, which is expected to account for more than 20 percent of WeWork’s revenue in 2018.

The space as a service model is particularly appealing to millennials, who tend to be less interested in settling down in one place and are inclined to move more frequently—both in their home lives and their careers.

Employees are also more likely to work as independent contractors in the “gig economy”, which now accounts for more than a third of the workforce.

How Workplaces Can Embrace Space As a Service

Consumer technology has reduced the need for physical items by using solutions like Spotify, Netflix and Amazon. And workplace technology has decreased our need for physical office space.

“Work” is no longer somewhere we go; work is something we do. Work is not a location; work is an experience. And through the power of technology, many of us can work almost anywhere.

This presents a huge opportunity for workplace leaders and corporate real estate professionals to reduce costs while delivering a better employee experience. For instance, they can:

  • Offer employees the option to work from a coworking space in a nearby city instead of requiring them to move (or renting a new building just to accommodate a handful of people)
  • Maximize space utilization by moving to an activity-based working model that gives employees the ability to move around based on what they’re doing
  • Downsize their workspaces by allowing more employees to work remotely, wherever they choose to do their work
  • Reduce capital expenses by allowing a coworking space to cover equipment and maintenance costs
  • Consider renting out space that’s underutilized in their own real estate portfolios

At some point in their career, almost every workplace leader has been tasked with “doing more with less.” Embracing the space as a service model allows them to do this while providing the flexibility, collaboration and even perks many younger employees have come to expect from their employers.

How Technology In the Workplace Enables Space As a Service

Fully embracing the space as a service concept requires a shift in the way employers approach technology in the workplace. With office space at a premium, workplace leaders need a way to visualize and manage space utilization in real time. At minimum, they’ll need space management software that gives them an accurate picture of their total rentable square footage. To get the most of that investment, they’ll also need a way for employees to easily find space and reserve rooms. With an employee-facing app that integrates with space management software or integrated workplace management system (IWMS), workplace leaders can see which spaces are actually in use on any given day and plan accordingly.

iOFFICE Hummingbird is a complete employee experience solution with apps, kiosks and IoT integrations to empower your workforce. Hummingbird allows employees to make the most of the space available to them and work as efficiently as possible, while closing the data loop between the workforce and workplace leaders. For instance, employees can find and reserve space, request service or maintenance and receive visitors or mail. Meanwhile, workplace leaders can have real-time insights into which spaces are being used or underutilized and make adjustments as needed.

Just as Spotify tailors your playlist based on preferences and Netflix makes suggestions based on what you’ve just watched, Hummingbird allows workplace leaders to “calibrate” workspaces to better meet the needs of those who actually use them.

In this space-as-a-service era, many employees can work anywhere. Creating a responsive, digital workplace is one way to encourage them to spend more time in the office or at a coworking space—even if they aren’t there every day.

Learn more about how iOFFICE Hummingbird can elevate the employee experience at your workplace. Schedule your free demo now!


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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