Can workplace experience apps help the office to fight back?

Our weekly WORKTECH Wednesday Briefing explores how workplace experience apps might play a significant role in making the office a more desirable destination for employees reluctant to return

In the latest of our WORKTECH Wednesday Briefings, created to reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors while WORKTECH’s professional live conference series paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, we share perspectives on the latest development in work and workplace. This edition is posted 1 July 2020.

Consumer-style apps on the rise

As experts speculate about the new shape of the post-pandemic workplace, could workplace experience apps become more influential in making the office desirable again for employees? The results of a new survey conducted by Spica Technologies in partnership with WORKTECH Academy suggest they could be set to grow in relevance and use.

The survey canvassed the opinions of more than 150 participants from a range of geographies and work backgrounds in April and May. More than 90 per cent of respondents agreed that workplace experience is important for productivity – with more than 60 per agreeing strongly. A significant minority (a quarter of those surveyed) expressed dissatisfaction with their productivity when working from home during the coronavirus crisis. Key challenges identified included isolation from colleagues, lack of balance between home and work, and problems with IT support and connectivity.

‘Workers waste considerable time accessing the right info to be more productive …’

In the office workplace, people want to see improvements in the availability and equipping of meeting rooms – 88 per cent do not find it easy to book a meeting room. They also want more ergonomic seating, more storage, lower noise levels and greater cleanliness. The survey also suggests that workers waste considerable amounts of time accessing the right information to be more productive.

The report concludes that for the office to remain relevant in the future, it must become a ‘desirable destination’ and create a digital bridge to remote working. Consumer-style apps that provide such services as real-time company information and frictionless meeting room booking will ‘encourage employees to go back to the office post-Covid in the short-term, while making them want to keep coming back long-term’. Read the full report from Spica Technologies here.

Reopening America: the science

Amid the plethora of design guides and frameworks that have emerged on planning a safe return to the office, you might like to check out science-based guidance from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) on how US states can reopen their communities amid the unresolved and escalating Covid-19 crisis.

The AIA’s ‘Reopening America: Strategies for safer buildings’ collection is intended to provide design professionals, employers, building owners, and public officials with tools and resources for reducing risk when re-occupying buildings such as shops, schools and workplaces during the pandemic.

As part of the initiative, the AIA convened a team of architects, public health experts, engineers, and facility managers, who conducted virtual design charrettes to develop strategies for reducing the spread of pathogens in buildings, promoting mental wellbeing, and fulfilling alternative operational and functional expectations. Read the guidance on offices here.

Sydney’s timber tower

Just in case you thought that the pandemic had either slowed or halted all innovation in the construction of office buildings, we bring you news of a plan by software giant Attlasian to build the world’s tallest hybrid timber tower for its new headquarters in Sydney.

The 180-metre-high structure, which will reshape the skyline at the southern end of Sydney’s Central Business District, will combine mass use of timber with a facade of glass and steel. Features include a stepped roof garden. Designed by New York architects SHoP in partnership with Australian firm BVN Architecture, the project for 4,000 Atlassian staff is set for completion in 2025.

Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar told The Sydney Morning Herald that in the post-pandemic era, he believed that even an employer with a highly distributed workforce needed people to come together regularly: ‘Buildings have to be a place where they attract your employees to come in, and do their best work, it’s a billboard to future employees. We have an opportunity to be maybe the first building in Sydney built for a distributed workforce in a new way.’

Tech’s throw of the dice

Finally, the latest in our popular series of WORKTECH webinars takes place on Thursday 2 July.  UnWork CEO and WORKTECH Academy chairman Philip Ross will discuss ‘The Effects of Covid-19 on the Corporate Real Estate Office Market’ with Roee Peled, VP Global Sales and Business Development at PointGrab, and Erica Eaton, Chief of Strategy and Operations at Comfy. This is an opportunity to hear how new technologies might reshape the post-coronavirus workplace in ways we haven’t thought of. Webinar details here.

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