The pandemic has disrupted the traditional office structure and has led us towards long-overdue conversations on what a workplace should and could be for building management, occupiers, and communities.

We’ve arrived at a stage where occupiers know what they need, not only to work effectively but to enjoy their working environment. The enforced work-from-home has empowered occupiers to no longer be afraid to ask – even demand – what they need from their office space. Typically, this includes natural light, fresh air, access to green space, and areas away from desks to recharge, such as lounges and comfortable break-out rooms and areas. 

For too long simple amenities such as these have been overlooked but the pandemic has restored an appreciation for convenience, comfort, and wellbeing amongst the workforce who have been able to enjoy these key basics at home. Once upon a time, working from home was considered a once-in-a-while luxury that needed to be earned, overly discussed, and then scheduled. But flexible working has become a standard benefit for employees almost overnight in order for businesses to retain staff, reflect the current situation, and maintain a reputation of being safe and forward-thinking. 

To ensure offices are meeting the requirements of 2021 and beyond, buildings and their teams need to place people at their hearts. Property managers must go the extra mile to deliver the experiences an occupier wants in a way that cannot be replicated from their home. 

An example would be to adopt IoT and sensors. This technology can only enhance the office experience, providing insight into air quality, room temperatures, and levels of occupancy so occupiers feel safe in their working environment. In a world that must prioritise sustainability, adopting IoT and sensor technology is a strong step towards becoming more efficient and climate aware.  

Additionally, the teams that manage our buildings must also consider the lasting social implications that the pandemic has had on occupiers. People have been starved of social interaction for what seems like an eternity, and technology can underpin every facet of community engagement by providing property managers the capability to communicate events, services, initiatives, offers, and announcements. 

In the last few years, digital property management apps have evolved rapidly, and are now equally used to increase building efficiencies for management as they are to engage occupiers and keep them connected with each other, their office, and even the wider community. 

Workplace apps have sought to cultivate relationships with local businesses to ensure buildings and their occupiers have access to exclusive deals and discounts. This bridges the gap between commercial real estate and the community, as occupiers will become more aware of what’s in the area, will spend more on local retail and hospitality and more time in the outside space. Ultimately, this strategy builds positive, long-lasting community relationships which will make going to the office a more enriching experience.

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