Lambent (formerly Armored Things), a provider of AI software for smart space planning, is looking at fundamental shifts in how businesses manage their corporate campuses in 2023. As space planners grapple with more fluid, hybrid occupancy and work environments, they are running into critical blind spots when it comes to helping their organizations plan for the future.
According to Lambent CEO Richard Scannell, the negative impact is too great to ignore. “Ordering employees back to the office has not gotten the traction some executive leadership hoped it would,” he said. “So, getting a handle on utilization, how space will be used, and how to best plan for that is a real challenge for companies and their facilities teams right now. They have to figure it out because it has a tremendous impact on the productivity and efficiency of their businesses. We believe part of the solution will be in the adoption of more modern, data-driven approaches that can help anticipate how spaces will be used going forward.”
With that in mind, Scannell and his team are predicting several shifts in 2023.
1. Return to Office (RTO) “Flexibility”
According to a Generation Lab survey, about 40% of Gen Z wants to return to the office. A recent Gallup survey indicates that 56% of full-time employees in the U.S. believe they can do their job entirely remotely. In another study, Harvard Business School found 1 – 2 days in the office to be a win-win for employers and employees. Not exactly a broad consensus. The point is, there is a role for the office environment, just not anything like what it used to be. Employees and managers are looking for intentional experiences – going to the office or workplace with a purpose – whatever that might be. That doesn’t make life any easier for corporate space planners, and it certainly isn’t great news for leaseholders of large buildings. Companies will need to get creative and experiment with more flexible shared spaces that can be re-purposed quickly and easily.
2. Increased Focus on Collaborative, Connected Spaces
On those days that employees are in the office, they want quality face-time with managers and colleagues, meaningful conversations, and meetings that make sense with clear takeaways. They miss their friends, sure, but they also see how much is lost in translation without seeing some of their colleagues face to face. This means collaborative spaces, i.e., more couches and tables, fewer offices, desks and cubicles. Collaboration and connectedness will dominate corporate space planning in 2023. And the coffee machine, whiteboard, lounges and shared spaces will be in high demand.
3. Sustainability Metrics that Matter
As businesses address space utilization challenges, they will also need to figure out how to minimize the negative impact of their unused spaces to improve the sustainability of their campuses. Whether it’s certifications, new initiatives or divestment, businesses and their executives are going to be recognized and rewarded for showing progress. Some of that will come from shareholders, some will come in the form of employee satisfaction and recruitment. The key is identifying and reporting on the right metrics to measure progress. They’ll need hard data to highlight the difference they are making.
4. Sensor Dependencies in Question
For many good reasons, corporate real estate leaders believed sensors would help them understand their spaces better. Then came the reality that hardware installation and maintenance slowed the road to actionable insights. Sensors as a utilization planning strategy may have been mis-directed as space planners find themselves overwhelmed by disparate, point-in-time data outputs that can’t be easily combined to inform an overarching plan. There is certainly a place for sensors, but only as a piece of a broader space planning strategy. Look for fewer, more carefully considered sensor purchases in 2023.
5. New C-Suite Ask: Dynamic Space Reports
Occupancy data alone is not enough for successful space planning. As large companies examine their real estate and campus needs, occupancy data must be integrated with all the information that pertains to a space–from its physical configuration to the intentional use of that space through scheduling, booking and event systems. All of the data in these disparate systems must be viewed together to help space planners right-size and right-shape the spaces to the changing needs of their people. In 2023, the CRE industry will be clamoring for analysis and reports that make sense of it all.
About Lambent (formerly Armored Things)
Lambent is a Boston-based software company for smart space planning. Its SaaS platform leverages AI to deliver occupancy analytics for space optimization at corporate campuses and colleges. The Lambent Spaces platform leverages existing data sources such as Wi-Fi and sensors to provide anonymous and predictive analytics. The software delivers actionable intelligence so facilities professionals and space planners can make better use of the spaces they have. For more information, visit https://lambentspaces.com/.
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