There have been many stop-starts, but 15 months on from the first lockdown, the office – a collaborative space for experts to strategise, create and innovate – has finally been placed on the ‘green list‘. 

Faisal Butt

From 19 July, technology will help guide us back to a new and upgraded working normality.

Technology has played a crucial role in inspiring hybrid and alternative work-life balances, which will remain central to economic – and even personal – growth for generations to come.

A recent study by Landsec suggested that 67% of workers were prepared to come back to the office as restrictions eased. Additionally, Deloitte found that 28% of UK workers were “desperate” to go back to their offices. Yet, while lockdown has forced us to adapt to technology, 37% of professionals under 35 felt “overwhelmed” by technology, and 29% didn’t feel confident using technology within their roles.

The future of work is going to look very different going forward, and the workplace will need to become more technologically advanced to support it’s employees and business needs.

While the past year has proven that remote workforces can work, even with a degree of efficiency, this hasn’t stopped many companies – ours included – from revamping spaces to encourage teams to work collaboratively.

Working environment

Source: Shutterstock/Seyomedo

Combined with a renewed emphasis on wellness, workplaces are no longer assessed on desk space numbers. Instead, strategic measurables will be, and should be, gauged on how the space motivates team members, enables learning, encourages inclusion and develops organisational culture.

The office plays a crucial role in upskilling team members. Enhanced areas for training and upskilling programmes will create a dynamic culture and, supported by technologies such as virtual and augmented reality tools, there are myriad benefits that cannot be mimicked at home.

As an early-stage proptech investor, we are seeing tech innovations in this space that make it one of the industry’s most exciting frontiers.

We have over 50 portfolio companies including Hubble, OfficeRnD and OfficeApp,which are helping businesses and employers to transition their employees back to offices, transforming workplaces into learning hubs.

This week, Hubble announced a new injection of £2m investment, a top-up funding round led by Pi Labs, and the company estimates that recovery will go back to 80% of pre-Covid levels.

In search of the next proptech unicorn, Pi Labs plans to almost double our portfolio to 100 companies by 2025. We are looking out for capital-hungry and ambitious entrepreneurs keen to capitalise on a fast-paced, growing and accelerated digitisation of the real estate sector.

The past year has taught us we work best in teams, rather than on Teams. Together, with the helping hand of technology, we will continue to overcome the various limitations of hybrid workplaces, particularly around fostering creativity and innovation, facilitating collaboration between different business units and contributing to the growth of our young professionals.

On 19 July, I look forward to seeing more of my new, existing and future colleagues and start-up founders in person, in the places and spaces that they thrive within.

Faisal Butt is founder and chief executive of Pi Labs