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    Using Mobile Technologies to Enhance the Occupant Experience

    Elizabeth Dukes

    The initial focus in mobile technologies was on meeting room reservations; then came lighting, heating and cooling, then access control.

    Over the last two years, it has become apparent that there are many more occupant experiences that can be delivered via mobile phone. Managing parking, reporting maintenance issues, ordering coffee, scheduling an exercise class, viewing security cameras, and other applications were quickly added to the list. With so many options and approaches available, what are the best strategies for occupant experience? 

    The Mobility Opportunity is the Engagement Opportunity

    Mobility refers to more than just the mobile phone. It’s about giving employees mobility and control over their workday. They need the ability to easily connect to their workplace or their work activity as they need to. It’s not about controlling the building; it’s about enhancing the experience.

    Simply put, mobility equals employee engagement. 

    We are suffering from a crisis of engagement at work with only a third of employees actively engaged. According to Jacob Morgan, a podcaster and futurist who talks about the future of work, that disconnect comes in part from not giving our teams the technology they need to find, request, share, and receive information, as well as access space and services so they can be productive and feel satisfied. Workplace technology, especially mobile technology, is a significant contributor to enhancing experience and the bottom line results can’t be ignored.

    According to Gallup, only 34 percent of employees are actively engaged. Disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion annually, The Engagement Institute found.

    Jacob Morgan’s research also says that organizations that invest in technologyemployee facing technologyshow dramatic increases in both revenue and profit compared to those companies that do not invest.

    “Companies that invest heavily in the employee experience (including workplace technology) earned more than four times the average profit and two times the average revenue compared to those that didn’t," Morgan says.

    So what is our part in this conversation? What is CRE and workplace leadership’s part in this?

    From a CRE perspective, giving occupants control over their workday and a workplace that allows them to be productive is beyond just a killer app. You have to start at the beginning with the operational tech stack and deliver the type of environments that employees expect. 

    We have the ability to centralize data and provide mechanisms for intelligently acting on our physical environments that are responsive to how the employees use that space. That means we’re also obligated to give employees technology that they useand expect to useto support their ability to engage with and connect to the workplace.  

    Creating a Connected Workplace

    By creating a technology infrastructure that works across silos (HR, IT, FM, BAS), collects data, and provides both operational leaders and employees the ability to intelligently act and plan, you’re creating an environment where everyone wins. Or you’re creating a connected experience that drives enhanced business outcomes.

    As employees engage the workplace and resources using tech, the data points expand and are propagated back into the core operational systems, giving leadership the knowledge to simultaneously enhance the built environment and improve employee experience.

    Mobility is Key

    One thing is certain: mobility is key. It's about giving employees a fluid, dynamic, seamless experience. The expectation today is that everything is accessible from everywhere, from multiple touch points, and truly integrated into the employee’s workday. That includes the mobile phone, of course, and a workplace app, but it also includes commonly used platforms like Outlook or Google Calendar, workstream collaboration tools like Slack, as well as other handy interfaces like kiosks.

    Being able to integrate technology into the employee’s day is critical. It’s absolutely non-negotiable in today’s workday.

    So how do you accomplish this?

    Your current workplace technology environment may look like a combination of these various systems. Some of them may be performing well. Some may be under performing. Some may be siloed and some may be connected. The systems are typically “owned” by a combination of HR, IT, and CRE. Regardless, many of them have valuable data that could be leveraged by employees to do their jobs better and more effectively use the workspace.  

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    We've Living in the Cloud Era

    The good news is we are living in the cloud era. APIs and plug-ins allow you to easily leverage the data in these core systems for employee-facing tech, allowing you to keep up with current and future employee, market, and tech needsmany of which are unforeseen today.

    Who could have predicted the advent of IoT, AI, robotics, and even iPhones 10 years ago? It’s imperative to start with a SaaS platform that grows with your needs, connects to critical systems and apps, and lets employees access and choose what they need to thrive.

    With that said, it’s not critical to rip and replace what you have now to get to the connected mobile workplace. Start by asking the right questions. Most of our customers create a cross-functional task force with HR, IT, FM, CRE, and corporate communications to determine which departments and employees need what. Set out clear goals based on the goals of the built environment’s performance, the needs of the employees, and the ability to collect data and business intelligence to plan for the future.

    Keep in mind that whatever you select should be as easy to operate as your cell phone. Virtually no training required is the standard. Ask important questions like:

    • Is it instantly usable?
    • Does it sync everywhere?
    • Could my newest employee learn it and teach it to someone else on the same day?

    Next, get granular about the functionality selection and which solutions need to integrate and collaborate across silos. Set up a dream list of data and apps sharing. Then get realistic about what you can and can’t implement with attainable deadlines and support.

    The results will make everyone more productive and focused on activities that bring real value and a clear ROI to the organization as a whole. And you just might like coming to work a little bit more as a result.

    Interested in learning more?  You can watch the "Controlling a Building from Your Phone - Occupant Experience Platforms Arrive" webinar recording here

    Elizabeth Dukes

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    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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