Markets

The creation of workplaces in dynamic new spaces

In 2021 the workplace has evolved from a ‘form follows function’ institution to a dynamic, flexible and efficient space that utilises the latest technology to solve issues surrounding health, well-being, productivity and the environment.
December 20, 2021

Traditional office buildings and work environments are adapting with the help of PropTech solutions, to maintain a level of normality in a new abnormal world. Enabling a building to continue to operate at optimal capacity within safe levels, is an overarching objective for any commercial real estate owner, landlord or building management company.


Over the past year, as a consequence of the pandemic, UK stats show PropTech investments having climbed to a record high, with £1.6 billion of investment raised, a 360% increase compared to £347.79 million in 2020. Whilst the global story paints a similar picture with more than $20.57 billion invested in Proptech in 2021. More than double the amount raised in 2020.


Retrofitting central offices


In the US the leading real estate owner, investor, operator and developer RXR Realty retrofitted the Rockefeller Plaza for the return to the office. Investing in PropTech solutions such as touchless entry and smart elevators to reduce contamination, as well as introducing thermal cameras and social distancing sensors with built-in contact tracers.


These technologies along with utilising light fixtures to output Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) to help inactivate coronavirus and increasing the buildings intake of natural air, replacing it more often and improving the air filtration make for a collectively profound healthier and safer work environment.


Initiatives like these will benefit employees within these buildings but will inevitably mean costs will be passed on to the businesses based there. Something large enterprises can afford but for many smaller businesses, not all of these strategies will be feasible and therefore must look to other options.



Are central offices no longer an essential part of the modern workplace?


The emergence of flexible workspaces such as coworking offices to work pods mark the future, where small companies and their employees in addition to part-time and freelance workers have found they can achieve maximum efficiency on both an economic and productivity level.


The pandemic has put pressure on the need for flexible work solutions and therefore accelerated the need to think outside the box and create dynamic workspaces. Workers are looking for a space where they can be at their most productive whilst abiding to guidelines and remaining safe. Small businesses are looking towards becoming more cost effective in terms of leasing office space and landlords are looking to find a use for their empty office space they have acquired. The outcome is the creation of workplaces in new spaces.


The decentralised workspace


One dynamic vision is the decentralised workspace. Utilising unused buildings and spaces in small towns as safe collaborative work environments. The idea is to enable workers to step away from the distractions of work from home and provide a trade off to the commute. It provides a flexible working solution and has knock-on benefits for the surrounding town and high street.


Patch have exercised this idea encapsulated in their tag line “Work Near Home” and are turning local high street shops into working hubs. Enabling workers to exercise the hybrid work model where efficiencies gained by remote work coupled with the benefits of social interactions lead to enhanced creativity and new ideas.


Doordeck works with Patch to provide secure smart access within these high street spaces, taking out the need for a reception and manned facilities. All can be managed through their tenant white labelled app called ‘Passport’, powered by Nexudus which has integrated with Doordeck. The app and Doordeck can recognise what membership plan a customer is on and control access to certain areas of the space allowing for maximum security.


Coworking spaces


Hybrid working is commonly associated within coworking spaces. These are modern office spaces where workers from different work backgrounds and companies share and work independently or in groups. No long term leases are required so coworking places act as a good solution for small businesses. Companies also have great flexibility, as they can easily increase or decrease the amount of desk space or move to another building, if required.


Companies that sign up for long term leases as part of the traditional office space commitment often obtain excess office space, as their business plans factor in growth and an increase in headcount. This often means a proportion of the office is unused for long periods of time. Unused space must still be maintained and therefore has a negative impact on commercial real estate’s carbon footprint and the bottom line.


Doordeck provides keyless entry for a number of coworking spaces. Work.Life is one of the most recent coworking spaces to benefit from Doordeck’s SDK integration into their app to enable smart keyless entry. Work.Life is a company that has set up coworking spaces spanning across the UK in London, Manchester and Reading. They take small buildings within cities and turn them into collaborative workspaces with a variety of plans and amenities available.


Customers can choose from a selection of membership plans that suit them, depending on whether they will be working within a small team or just individually. From hot desks to private meeting rooms, workers have the option to interact with other members and form relationships or otherwise keep themselves to themselves.


Work.Life uses small spaces to promote collaboration and community values. Additionally it’s values are ignited through social events and other perks offered to members, emulating a traditional office environment however in a modern dynamic setting.


Doordeck provides a secure access control solution, from the main entrance, to communal work area through to managing meeting room bookings, providing hierarchical access throughout, for the different membership levels.



Work pods


The idea of pods as a workspace is a futuristic vision becoming a reality for cities in the western world. What can now be seen as a normality now to those in places like Tokyo has now made its way to cities such as London as a portable dynamic workspace. Work pods can be located in pretty much any public space from cafes to train stations. These sound proof spaces are the most hybrid style office spaces around. It is the simplicity of their design that is also part of the attraction to them.


Pluto is a start-up company that has created a personal workspace solution with their work pods. A solution that was created pre-pandemic but growing in pandemic popularity following the desire for remote working... Pluto pods can be located in public spaces like theatres, shopping centres, exhibition centres, airports and cafes. They are comfortable, soundproofed workstations with super fast and reliable wifi connection. With no background noise distractions, video calls or other work tasks are a breeze.


Regarding door access to the pods and visitor management, Doordeck’s cloud based door access control is integrated with the Pluto pods to provide keyless entry and contactless door entry using NFC technology. Doordeck also handles the booking process for customers showing which pod is available when and for how long. Clever additional features like UV light pod self sanitation at the end of the customers booking and smart air purification system provide a much needed pandemic proof package.


The catalyst for workplace change


Over the past year changes to the world of work have been in the spotlight. From central offices retrofitting to the creation of unique dynamic spaces to work from. The pandemic has fast forwarded an evolution in workspaces which would have needed to happen in years to come.


PropTech is at the forefront of it, represented by huge investment from the commercial real estate sector and other innovative startups that have identified a need for new ways to future-proof the workplace. From air purification, access control, to tenant, visitor and space management... technology will lead the way to allow for work spaces to become more dynamic, sustainable, and safer places to be enjoyed for the rest of the 21st century.



Cameron Turriff
Writer
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