Guest blog by, Leon Papkoff, CEO and Chief Strategist, The CXApp

Hybrid workplaces and the distributed workforce are here to stay, that much we know for sure. Many will point to the pandemic and the sudden need it created for remote opportunities, which were important for safety, health, and continued operations.

I would argue we were always on that path, just taking a slower walk, which turned brisk when COVID-19 reared its head.

The future of work was already evolving alongside the advancement and deployment of the internet of things (IoT). Contextual experiences were becoming more of a necessity vs a commodity – for customers and employees alike. And as post-pandemic work environments begin to take shape, the emergence of advanced reservation software tools and services are shaping the concept what it looks like to be at work and connected to the workplace – even based upon who you are and where you are.

It’s a whole new world.

While you’re familiar with IoT, IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), and CIoT (Commercial Internet of Things) –  let’s talk about BoT – the booking of things. It may very well be the key to this brave new work-world.

Desk and Room Reservation Software Impact in the Office

Two of the most common services, in action right now, are desk booking and conference room booking solutions. Both are in high demand because of the capabilities they offer to workplaces planning (and in some locations already executing) re-entry and re-occupancy protocols. It’s a reliable and effective way to manage on and off-site employees and all of their individual needs while keeping a safe social distance in densely populated work environments.

Desk booking solutions provide employees with greater flexibility in choosing a workstation and finding something that fits their workday needs. Desk booking tools also deliver more control to real estate and operations, in terms of having better insights and more active control of how many people can be on site, and which desks or spaces can be accessed. This capability is incrementally important for large workplaces to set inventories, occupancy limits, room capacities, etc. across multiple locations.

Conference room booking solutions, similarly, offer greater insights into when spaces can being used and by whom. With more streamlined reservations of physical spaces, meeting rooms, and collaboration hubs, employees move in, around, and out of office spaces much easier, with minimal physical interactions.

I see a burgeoning world of digital and smart solutions that transform modern operations into something greater. As companies take a more holistic approach to people, places, and technology in the workplace, it creates a continued and near-endless examination of how these areas or amenities are being used. This will give rise to the need for expanding “bookability” in the workplace, far beyond just desks and conference rooms. The booking of things will become as integral to normal operations as any other platform.

Engaging A Distributed Workforce

Worker engagement has taken a considerable hit for many reasons. On average, only 53% of employees, globally, report feeling engaged at work. Moreover, just 18% of employees around the globe say they intend to stay with their company “1 year or less.”

Especially right now, employees aren’t being given the support, experiences, and benefits that one would expect from a thriving operation. Barring some of the other concerns, one of the most prominent is the workplace itself.

About 43% of workers say that work flexibility results in less stress, improved mental health, better work-life integration (38%), improved job satisfaction and morale (33%), and increased productivity or efficiency at work (29%). They want hybrid or flex-spaces that offer a dynamic home-work solution, based largely on utilization and demand.

Reserving Perks At Work… and At Home

Let’s dig a little further into the booking of things in the workplace. As a result of digital transformation – companies need to in fact embrace more diverse opportunities to connect with employees regardless of where they are located. What kind of workplace experiences can we expect to see going forward? What are the ‘things’ or activities you can reserve as part of your company’s cultural transformation?

Bear in mind, new use cases continue to be uncovered by real estate and workplace experience professionals. Most of the technology involved is fairly new which means it has yet to reach its full potential and there are many opportunities we have yet to discover.

Here are just some of the experiences that can be reservable in the workpalce of the future:

  • Recreation: Yoga sessions (in-person or virtual), basketball courts, tennis courts, ping-pong tables, fitness workout times or specific equipment at the gym, billiards tables
  • Facilities: Desks, conference rooms, collaboration pods, phone booths, health and wellness stations (sauna, nap room…), digital lockers (to store your belongings in a shared desk environment)
  • Daily Amenities: Parking spots, ride share, food delivery/catering, cafeteria tables, outdoor seating
  • Perks: Daycare, theater events, presentation halls, meditation courses (in-person or virtual), dog-walker (on-site or at-home), dry cleaning pick-up/drop-off

Bookability’s Impact On the Future of Work

Businesses are still recovering from the past 12months while simultaneously future-proofing workplace operations. When it comes to bookability in the workplace, there are many reasons why advance reservations will be a widely adopted model for large organizations.

  1. Intuitive Capacity Planning – Knowing occupancy rates, and what equipment or facilities are in use, are critical to smooth operations in a hybrid workforce. It also provides better controls for managing real estate assets.
  2. Smoother Exit and Entry – Data points and insights about how and when people move between high-contact areas or use main thoroughfares in a facility, create better space management protocols.
  3. More Reliable Buy-In – People need space to work, so the buy-in is near-instant and will remain so as long as booking solutions provide value. It’s an easy and speedy solution for evolving the average workplace.
  4. Smarter Participation – W can see if a space or activity is available or occupied, and then plan attendance based on what they know. If there are no workspaces open for the day, for example, they can plan to work remotely.
  5. Improved Employee Engagement – The more connected employees feel to their workplace, and the company as a whole, the more positive sentiment and satisfaction levels. Increased transparency across all programs vastly influences workplace culture.

Whole Workplace Visibility

The fact of the matter is that modern scheduling solutions, which incorporate a ‘whole workplace’ approach, bring a lot more value and meaning to real estate, operations, facilities and workplace experience groups. Providing employees with the tools and equipment to manage their day-to-day office scenarios is quickly becoming a necessity to thrive in today’s hyper-digital, and increasingly distributed world.

It goes way beyond just booking a desk or reserving a workstation.

Ultimately, a bookable approach to desks, spaces, and things in the workplace provides incredible value to employees, as they can come and go as they please, with all of the digital solutions to support transitional hybrid experiences — on site or off.

About the Author:

As CEO and Chief Strategist for The CXApp, I have worked with Fortune 500 companies to build programs that deliver personalized, interactive experiences for enhanced business operations across events, meetings, communities and the