Why Space Booking Apps Should Be More Like Instagram

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Why Space Booking Apps Should Be More Like Instagram

There appears to be no shortage of bad news for the proponents of a mass and permanent return to the office. The Bank of England has announced the UK will be in an economic downturn for most of 2023, meaning cost control will dominate corporate agendas. And shedding office space is a sure way to save millions in lease costs. CFOs are probably thinking, “Hey presto! What better way to control costs than paring down real estate holdings? Employees don’t need to be in the office to work productively.” The body of evidence compiled since the global lockdowns pretty much confirms that mass working from home does not automatically lead to poorer performance. Indeed Deloitte, PwC and Twitter, among many others, have been highly supportive of remote work.

Regular readers know the Verdantix view on such situations: using workplace management software (WMS) solutions helps to get granular data on which floors, or even buildings, are consistently under-occupied. This facilitates data-driven portfolio consolidation decisions. But it is only one side of the coin. 

What about the users? WMS solutions were traditionally built on the assumption that office usage was the core driver of the elusive ‘workplace experience’. But professional service workers can now work from anywhere, and their connection to the workplace is increasingly digital. How can a product manager for these solutions prevent the offering from being tethered to the physical workplace and becoming outdated?

One way is to transform the solution from what even officegoers see as a clerical tool (“Where can I book a space?”) into more of a portal engaging the staff community (“What is going on at the workplace today?”). 

Software firm HqO is pushing to realize this vision. Its recent acquisition of Leesman and JLL Jet pools three differentiated data sets into a tool that monitors employee use of on-site services and offers suggestions on office changes that match user preferences. An example of this: increasing the number of meeting rooms and eliminating standalone desks. It provides an Instagram-like newsfeed that showcases in-person and online events. Sony’s Nimway app enables a more personalized interface. Users can create lists of their favourite spaces and the colleagues they interact with most, minimizing the time it takes to organize a meeting, for instance.

Offices are changing, and so must WMS products. The defining feature of today’s product management strategies must be about making a solution’s capabilities more salient to aspects of the workplace that are unavailable at home, such as workplace events. It is not just about the functional task of booking a space or securely accessing a building. It is about treating office workers as consumers of the workplace, where facilitating easier social and collaborative engagements will offer the most value. 

Any thoughts or feedback on this blog? Get in touch with us by emailing [email protected] 

Ibrahim Yate

Senior Analyst

Ibrahim is a Senior Analyst in the Verdantix Smart Buildings practice, which he joined in 2016. His current agenda covers innovation in software and hardware solutions for space management, workplace management, and workplace systems integration. Ibrahim holds an MSc from Imperial College London and MA from Cambridge University.