Strap line 2015

monthlies OnOffice July9

08 Feb 2019

A happier workforce? There's a tenant experience app for that

Words by  Photo by Rawpixel

We rely on our devices for ordering a taxi, ordering dinner and monitoring our health, so why hasn't tech made our work lives as simple?

Living in the second decade of the 21st century we are right to expect a lot from our workplaces. With the amount of data we’re able to measure, the balance between different types of spaces, the quiet areas and collaborative hubs, should be nearly ideal. And since it’s now widely scientifically proven how we’re positively affected by natural light, plants, silence, clean air, ergonomic furniture and optimal temperatures, one could hope that these will be provided where we work - a lot of these are not particularly expensive.

Similarly, carrying a powerful computer in our pocket (probably run by Google or Apple), full of apps and connected to the world practically 24/7, it’s surprising we don’t expect more from the technology and access to services in our own office buildings.

I’ve spent a good decade of my life working to improve the first two parts of the equation: space and wellbeing. And thankfully offices in 2019 are much better than the ones I remember from my earliest corporate days of 2006 - there are phone booths and quiet rooms, open-plan offices no longer remind you of aircraft hangars and natural light is widely recognised as important. The rapidly growing co-working movement and the prominence of workplace strategy professionals has done a lot to improve the lot of an average office worker.

Now it’s time for the technology.

Somehow the world developed in a way that we’re better connected to our friends across the ocean (via Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn) than we are to our colleagues one floor below us in our office building. It’s easier for us to get a tikka masala from a restaurant across town than it is to grab the sandwich we want or a coffee at our office cafeteria – queues galore.

We can more easily complain to Amazon about a scratched iPhone screen than to our facilities management team about a broken printer or a leaking toilet. And, very possibly, it’s easier to book a transcontinental flight than to book a meeting room across the hall.

That’s where tenant experience apps come into play. Some of them - like ours - were initially developed for the coworking spaces: to streamline operations and provide members with a remote control for the environment. Where all the legacy systems are missing, you can build something wonderful from scratch. That’s how our adventure with New Lab (New York), The Heart (Warsaw), SOSA (Tel Aviv), Silicon Allee (Berlin) and many others have begun.

From one smartphone app tenants are able to order food, report issues, book rooms, sign up for events, read news and find colleagues - in a couple of clicks you can find everyone specialising in artificial intelligence or proptech in your building. This isn’t that complicated technologically, but in an office environment, it needs to be done in a simple, pleasant-to-use way. When it comes to daily office chores - user experience is the king.

This, of course, is just the beginning. We can envision the system linking us with parking spaces, providing access and giving us wellbeing and productivity tips. It could also help immensely in understanding how people use spaces and how they can be improved to help us be happier and more effective.

Along with the rise of co-working and workspace as a service, we can see that our daily experience can change massively, for the better. We can spend most of our waking hours struggling and frustrated or… supported and content.

Maciej Markowski is CEO and co-founder of SpaceOS, a workspace management proptech startup.

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