2016 was a momentous year for Comfy. We closed a successful Series B fundraising round, welcoming new investors Emergence Capital, CBRE, and Microsoft Ventures on our journey. We tripled our staff (again!) and provided Comfy to tens of thousands of new users across 25 million sq ft in over a dozen countries.
Both the nature of work and the workforce are changing and those tasked with adapting and improving the workplace experience are at the forefront of a technological revolution. It's an exciting time for our team to be developing new, smart solutions to better connect people to their buildings and improve the way they experience their office every day.
As a team, we’re constantly watching, learning from, and listening to what people want from their offices, as well as the tech being developed to address those needs. Here are our 4 predictions for how smart tech will revolutionize the workplace experience in 2017.
1. The smart office will start to catch up with the smart home.
Home automation devices like Alexa and Google Home were at the top of holiday gift lists in 2016, officially heralding in an era when "smart home" became a household phrase. There's no more denying that the majority of today's workers have embraced smartphones and smart homes—and they expect smart offices too. According to a 2016 Dell study, 82% of millennials said workplace technology impacts the roles they accept. There’s no doubting that offices with 20th century tech will have frustrated employees and lose talent.
It makes sense that CBRE’s 2016 Americas Occupier Survey of corporate executives, revealed that employers are increasingly viewing the workplace as both a critical employee attraction and retention strategy; and JLL's Global CRE Survey estimates that by 2018, 76% of companies will have initiatives focused on workplace experience.
2. Workplace tech will deliver greater personalization for an agile workforce.
The way today's knowledge workers interact with their offices is dramatically changing, meaning their workplace needs are changing as well. Employees need offices that adapt to their varying needs throughout the day, but in reality, 45% of employees do not currently have access to the right workspace at the right time! 2017 will see the growth and emergence of new smart building technologies that give employees more choice, control, and customization over their workplace, ultimately leading to improved productivity and overall satisfaction. In short, today's workers are mobile and agile, and they need their workplace to be flexible too.
3. The workplace experience will become more responsive, on-demand, and real-time.
Filing tickets, waiting indefinitely for a response, delaying a year (or more) to implement occupant feedback...those days are in the past. Both day-to-day building operations and strategic planning need to happen at a faster pace. For occupants, workplace managers, and property owners, a real-time relationship with the building will become more commonplace. A JLL and Corenet Global survey of smart building executives confirms, “Buildings that anticipate and respond automatically to employee needs may have once seemed like a fantasy, but they are rapidly becoming the norm.”
4. More workplace tech will be simple, intuitive, and powerful.
Ahhh, the beauty of simplicity. Engagement rates for workplace tech are notoriously low. If it's too complicated, people won't use it. On the other hand, the market is filled with wildly popular consumer apps for everything from ordering lunch to analyzing your retirement fund. Software is successful when it is easy to use and delivers real value. At Comfy, we pride ourselves on the ability to pack powerful analytics and AI algorithms behind a friendly and easy interface. Smart office tech should be both intuitive and aid workplace managers, so they can really create an office that anticipates their employees’ needs.
2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for advances in the world of smart offices. Keep an eye out as Comfy starts to release an expanded suite of features and services to better connect people with their workplaces, and turn many of these predictions into reality.