The picture of the ideal modern office space in recent years has been one with an open floor plan where employees can freely intermingle and mesh their social and professional activities with amenities such as lounge space, games, food and even beer on tap.
Employers are increasingly shifting their priorities from “Cool” aesthetics to data-driven insights on how a space can best be outfitted to encourage both productivity and employee satisfaction.
The technologies increasingly being used in the effort include sensors that measure which sections of an office see the most foot traffic, phone-tracking beacons that monitor how employees interact, and software that can identify patterns and offer solutions from reams of data.
“The good news is, the methodologies exist and we’re adopting. Tenants want their needs anticipated before they even know they want something, and the only way to do that is through tech.” To get a leg up in the emerging world of so-called smart offices, RXR established an innovation lab at its 75 Rockefeller Center headquarters with 25 employees who have expertise in data science and software development.
Last year Convene, a coworking and conference space provider, purchased Beco, a location-analytics software and beacon technology company, for an undisclosed sum.
Tom Zampini, who was a co-founder of Beco and is now chief product officer at Convene, said the systems have helped Convene alter its spaces to improve functionality.
“We could see the setup of the room and the furniture selection wasn’t working,” Zampini said, “Because the sensors flagged it for us. It sounds trivial, but when you’re operating hundreds of spaces across an entire portfolio, it’s hard to see these things and fix them without technology to identify it.” Zampini’s colleague David Bows, vice president of engineering at Convene, said the company is developing systems to automate some of the tedium out of the workday, including software that books conference rooms and then automatically cues up a conference line or video feed when the meeting is set to begin.