Workplace apps


TfL Stratford Office


The Edge atrium, Amsterdam

Apps for intelligent workplace management

Thursday 30 November, 2017

While people remain at the core of high performance, app technology is of growing importance in how businesses run their operations. Good design is a useful tool in attracting and retaining the best people, but it never works in isolation so intelligent workplace systems need to complement this.

Transport for London have recently moved into Endeavour Square Stratford, and their relocation offers an insight into the increasing value on the design and use of app technology in shaping the workplace.  TfL have adopted a web-based booking system where ‘neighbourhood’ desks can be booked for a half or whole day but only as far in advance as today and tomorrow.  Meanwhile, the meeting room booking system only allows for advance booking up to 4 months yet will release the room if not occupied within 15 minutes of the start time. Eventually, the booking system will be linked to the access control so entry to the building will confirm the booking.

Although the TfL desk booking system doesn’t report names, sceptics of such close data analysis fear a ‘big brother’ situation emerging.  However, post-move evaluation at TfL has actually shown that staff feel more certainty, welcoming the opportunity to guarantee their workspace before they commute. The growth of such post-occupancy studies is testimonial to the fact that many organisations are seeking feedback on the impact their workspace is having on its people. But the statistics generated by workplace systems are intangible unless the organisation uses them to advance performance. Rather, firms must realise how apps can analyse these results to their advantage.

Moreover, app technology can also focus on improving the buildings themselves rather than just how people use them. Microsoft (using its Azure software) is developing a “Smart building – Vision and Strategy” platform where a constant feed of data is used to monitor a building’s environment, helping to understand and thus improve its management.  The Edge Building in Amsterdam is a famous success story of increasing energy efficiency and sustainability: the roof and south facing walls have solar panels to power the whole building; geothermal pumps help regulate temperature; and rainwater is collected for flushing toilets. While this doesn’t affect labour productivity, it aims to make the working space as cost-effective as possible.

Apps and Workplace Amplification tools shift attention away from just engagement numbers and focus on how people really experience work, and the organisation’s buildings on an everyday basis. This enables organisations to optimise their resources, maximise performance and redesign of its workplaces and practices around what their employees really need.

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