August 20, 2020 – Most employees are looking forward to returning to their offices, but the workplace of the future may operate more like a restaurant than a traditional corporate workplace.

During a recent webinar about healthy and safe re-occupancy of the workplace, professionals from Wells Fargo Bank, Ernst & Young, JLL, Boston Properties, Angus Systems, Essensys, Enlightened and FlashParking discussed how the office of the near future may require employees to reserve space but enable them to complete many tasks hands-free.

Edward Wagoner, Chief Information Officer for JLL, revealed the findings of a JLL report in which thousands of tenants were surveyed. Key takeaways included (1) employees wish to have the choice about returning to the office, (2) most are looking forward to coming back, (3) workers miss the social aspect of the workplace, (4) feeling cramped at home is a problem as their office space is larger at work, and (5) most wish to learn more about cleaning practices and which spaces were used most recently.

“The use of technology will play a significant role in determining recent space utilization and helping make employees feel safer,” Wagoner explained. “Sensors will determine the employee hot spots, alerts will be sent detailing current air quality and experience apps will provide information on the current work environment. In many instances, employees will complete their ‘heads down’ work at home and use the workplace for larger meetings to collaborate. The experience will resemble the way people interact with restaurants in which reservations for space are made.”

James Shannon, Chief Product Officer for Essensys, provided details on the functionality of a smart space environment in which members use contactless technology from the convenience of their smartphone. This includes using smartphone apps to open any door in the office building, start a videoconference, buy coffee and securely collect output from a printer. Employee lockers can also be opened and closed using the device. 

“COVID-19 has altered the way people choose transportation, with mass transportation on the decline and the use of personal vehicles increasing,” explained Jeff Johnson, Vice President for FlashParking. “Technology is taking the touch out of parking touchpoints in a parking garage, much like what is happening within the four walls in a building. Parking spaces can now be pre-booked via a smartphone, with entry, exit and payment all completed in the same manner.”