The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic inextricably altered our relationship with our physical spaces. This is especially true at work as millions of people have changed the way they relate to the office.
In response, some companies are pivoting to permanent remote or hybrid work policies, while others are transforming their physical spaces to accommodate new safety, aesthetic, and practical demands. Even before the pandemic prompted businesses to change their physical landscape, Zac Goodman was advocating for change.
As the CEO of TSP, Goodman is on a mission to create a portfolio of buildings specifically designed for SMEs that bring together incredible customer service, curb appeal, property technology, sustainability, flexibility, interior design, and more. His efforts are even more profound in a pandemic-altered business landscape. As Goodman explains, “The world of work has changed, is changing and will continue to change.”
We recently spoke with Goodman about the top trends businesses are embracing as they change their physical spaces, the most compelling building features attracting new tenants, and the best technologies enhancing organizational outcomes.
The ongoing pandemic and transition to hybrid work arrangements have changed the ways people think about their physical spaces. What trends are businesses embracing to enhance on-site security, efficiency, and productivity in this environment?
In the modern home, we have smart thermostats, smart lighting, smart speakers, smart alarm systems, mobile solutions, and so much more. In many ways, we have the ability to alter our home spaces at the tip of our fingers. However, in today’s offices, PIR light sensors are often the only smart technology deployed. Fortunately, tech companies have been working hard to develop automation solutions for the business environment, and that market is still expanding today.
Ultimately, by providing convenience first, companies are catering to their employees, building trust with new technologies that can inform future efforts.
This is a stressful time for building owners needing to entice tenants back to their facilities. What features are most compelling in this regard?
I think this is a mixed story. There are some businesses that are learning they can work hybrid, while others, like SMEs, are finding they need people on-site at least part-time. This creates unique challenges and opportunities for innovation.
For example, in our offices, we have fewer desks than we have people. Most days that isn’t a problem. However, we are all-hands on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and we have a bit of a fight for space.
We found that meeting room availability was a big problem. People want to connect with one another when they are on-site, so we needed to add new meeting spaces while reducing congestion in these spaces. Interestingly, this coexisted with another trend: people are demanding more privacy to complete certain tasks. For one, after working from home more regularly, people don’t want to make phone calls in public settings.
In response, we installed phone booths where people could go make a call so they didn’t take up a conference room when looking for private space. We also put in more soft seating areas where people could have semi-formal meetings.
At the same time, we are using new technologies that measure occupancy, perform air filtering, enable video conferencing, and offer dockable screens for non-designated seating.
At the end of the day, it's the amalgamation of a lot of changes that make a big impact.
You’ve said that companies have made limited progress leveraging technology to understand user behavior within their physical spaces. What technologies do you recommend, and what impact do you think they will have on organizational outcomes?
So much of the value businesses create is intangible as intellectual property developed by R&D teams and data scientists becomes a company’s secret sauce.
That’s why creating ways to control access to spaces has become more important. Access control is one of those small tweaks you can make to a space that can have a profound impact.
For example, In London, we used Oyster cards, plastic tokens that we charged on a machine and gave access to the underground transportation network. This technology was updated to allow wireless tapping, and today people can use their smartwatch or smartphone to gain access.
People love this progression, and it’s emblematic of the impact that evolutionary technological changes can have on our physical spaces.
In addition, I’m really impressed with smart, modular furniture. We’ve worked with Room.com, and we are really impressed with what they are doing in that regard. Modular furniture lets you move pieces around, so you don’t have to get the plan right the first time. These items improve privacy, air quality, and other on-site conditions.
Finally, density counting technology is breaking barriers, providing accurate headcounts and helping businesses understand how people are using spaces.
Ultimately, I think the workplace is going to be more like domestic life. People are going to choose technology that suits them, and they will pull it together to make an impact.
What's your favorite feature about Alcatraz AI?
Facial authentication is definitely my favorite feature. Alcatraz AI does something really simple. Users can look at the device, and it seamlessly authenticates entrants. Companies can trust it, and the technology is so familiar that everyone knows how to use it.