An interview to Federica Pedroni, Head of Workplace @ CBRE Italy Written by Anna Gnemmi, Digital Marketing Manager @ Sofia Locks in collaboration with Alessandro Nacci, CEO @ Sofia Locks

In the last years, the real estate market has faced many changes, the pandemic has accelerated many trends and revolutionized the conventional definition of workplace and home. The concept of space has now a different meaning, it has become modular, flexible, smart, and designed to meet fast-changing needs. 

In the last ten years, offices have undergone many changes, there has been a transition from the traditional model to the activity based working model, characterized by different work settings that can accommodate several types of activities. Today this model is adopted by more and more companies, according to their different shapes. As a matter of fact, it is increasing the number of businesses that embrace more and more collaborative models, like the team-based, the socializing HUB, or the event-based. The model is usually preferred on the basis of the business strategy, although the aim is shared: create proactive spaces, in which productivity and socializing are promoted, that attracts new talents, and that supports commitment and brand value.  

In an interview for Proptech Perspective, Federica Pedroni, Head of Workplace at CBRE Italy has provided us with a comprehensive overview of the continuous changes that the workplaces had to face to comply with the new circumstances, and to meet the new needs.In this article, we are going to analyze this topic and provide useful information to interpret this period of strong evolution.

The evolution of the working space

The flexible working spaces are becoming the new standard of the real estate market. With this term, there are meant spaces that do not have assigned workstations, but a series of work settings that can be occupied according to the different needs. In this way it is possible to use resources based on the activities to be carried out in a functional way, for example, there are meeting rooms designed to meet customers or make video calls, others smaller for individual calls, or environments designed to stimulate cooperation and teamwork. The spaces can be more or less formal and modular, to adapt to the needs of the different employees. 

More and more companies are planning to modify their layout and adopt more agile ones, especially after the adoption of smart working models

More and more companies are planning to modify their layout and adopt more agile ones, especially after the adoption of smart working models. A shift forced during the pandemic, but intended to remain during the “new normal”. In the case smart working will reduce the average office presence by 50%, traditional models with assigned workstations will be no longer functional. The office will become a place where to collaborate, and home a place where to concentrate. For these reasons the spaces dedicated to individual activities will be reduced to increase the collaborative ones, where people can work in teams, join meetings, greet clients, and make calls. In this way not only the business flexibility is improved, but also the layout management has got better, spaces are not wasted, and costs are reduced. 

The office still remains a place of fundamental importance, as it allows people to meet each other and socialize, and it is indispensable for the business policies

Despite the many changes, the office still remains a place of fundamental importance, as it allows people to meet each other and socialize, and these are aspects from which you can not disregard for the maintenance of well-being and individual creativity. Moreover, it is indispensable for the business policies, to attract, train and cultivate new talents, and improve the commitment, the sense of community, and the brand awareness. To reach these goals businesses have to provide their employees comfortable and innovative spaces, provided with cutting-edge solutions, able to meet their expectations, and create the right employee experience.

An office of CBRE Italy

Technology becomes an added value and an enabling factor 

By reducing the square meters dedicated to desks and cutting costs it is possible to dedicate more resources to the comfort and the elegance of spaces, which improve the sense of belonging of employees. This is a fundamental factor not only for tenants, but also for landlords, that can offer flexible, modular, and comfortable spaces, in which technology is not only a means to optimize operations, but an instrument to improve the value of the building and generate added value.

Through smart building both managers and guests can gain many advantages. Thorugh modern solutions tenants and facility managers can:

  • Have precise information on the number of people in a given environment in real-time, to improve the security and safety of the building;
  • Manage peak crowding , by verifying the status of the different locations in any moment;
  • Manage spaces and resources through business smart devices; 
  • Gain statistics on the use of spaces for future optimization of the space management.

Many are the advantages coming from the self-service logic, available to users. Through smart solutions they can:

  • Verify the work setting availability inreal-time through the personal smartphone and the given application;
  • Book the resources available autonomously. Thanks to the digital booking engine integrated with business systems it is possible to delete and/or modify bookings through the user interface;
  • Have information on the state of occupancy of the building, to better organize the presence of people in the building;
  • Have a tool of interaction and collaboration with colleagues that merge in a single interface the physical and the digital side, along with the phygital paradigm (here an in-depth analysis).

Cloud-native technologies allow integrations between third parties systems that cover the specific needs of the different business units

To gain these advantages it is necessary to have cloud-native technologies, as they allow integrations between third parties systems that cover the specific needs of the different business units. This allows access control technologies, as the one of Sofia Locks, and network technologies, as the one of Cisco Meraki, to have cutting-edge systems for space management. An example is the statistical detection of occupancy of spaces, which allows tracking the crowding of workspaces thanks to the integration of access control systems provided with smart locks, and Wifi and Bluetooth infrastructures. In the case study carried out at the business district Segreen Segrate, near Milan, when an employee connects to the company networks or opens a door with the badge or the smartphone it is possible to know the exact number of people in that room. Assuming that a user goes through a gateway without using the authentication tool, for example, whether a colleague opens the office door to another, it will still be possible to know the exact number of people in the room by recovering the name through the internet network, the WiFi or by verifying the booking of the resources.  

To have more information, visit the web page dedicated to the project: Cloud integration between access control and networking for greater safety 

Insights from the data 

“Verify that the idea of the workplace of the future is possible, and the project can be implemented and monitored are the main issues related to change management. After having done all the analysis to verify which spaces can better support the business and its operability, the project should be verifiable and monitorable in every moment, to measure the efficiency and effectiveness. In this way, the office could be used correctly”. What stated by Federica Pedroni to PropTech Perspective is perfectly in line with one of the main values deriving from digital transformation: extracting value from data.

Embracing the value of the data and presenting it in an intelligible way is fundamental to cope with change management

Embracing the value of the data and presenting it in an intelligible way is fundamental to cope with change management. Sofia Locks cloud-native solutions allow anexhaustive analysis of data, and the full control of space and information. Technology enables the interpretation of data and the creation of graphics, which allow to observe the development of the building and the single resources. In this way, it is easier to predict future scenarios and take appropriate actions. All this is GDPR compliant, data is aggregated and anonymized, not to harm the privacy of people.

The importance of flexibility

Data is not the only essential element to make innovation, also the right technologies are needed. Having plug&play technologies, easy to install, that do not require big plants, and allow a more effective experimentation is essential to enable flexible workplaces.

Wireless technology enables the creation of pilots to test new ways of working without having to face big initial investments, stop the operations of the building, and replace any legacy technologies

An example are the access control solutions. Thanks to wireless technologies, it is possible to enables the creation of pilots to test new ways of working without having to face big initial investments, stop the operations of the building, and replace any legacy technologies. In this way, it is possible to have an agile approach to the introduction of smart technologies for buildings and businesses. Cloud-native solutions enable a new, non-invasive way to deploy new technologies through hardware virtualization.