Before the outbreak of Covid-19, here at essensys we had long been aware of the trend among tenants towards greater demand for flexible office space.

James Shannon

James Shannon

Chief Product & Technology Officer at essensys

Established in 2006, essensys is the world’s leading provider of software-as-a-service and technology to the flexible real estate industry. We empower ambitious workspace providers to meet the growing demand for flexible workspace solutions, so we have seen first-hand the appetite and growth in the sector, especially among global occupiers.

Yet the continued changes that we were expecting to see over the next five years have in fact been dramatically sped up by lockdowns and the mass shift to homeworking. With the current vaccination programme providing some light at the end of the tunnel, we are now starting to see plenty of announcements from enterprise customers about how they are thinking differently about their real estate portfolios. Some major corporate names have already announced their plans to return to the office either fully or partly, while others have revealed different strategies to move towards a more regional model away from city centres.

All the options are on the table and are being discussed, and at essensys, the past 15 years of delivering next-generation flexible workspace have uniquely positioned us to be at the centre of the conversation in terms of what the new challenges will be in the wake of Covid-19.

A big driver behind our Flex Services Platform is the ability it gives to customers to focus on running their business and building their network, rather than having to spend too much time managing the technology

There are a broad range of challenges that come with this new desire to work in a more flexible way. With flexibility comes complexity. How do you encourage the right collaboration? How do you ensure that employees do not turn up to use the same space on the same day, when you have a limited number of spaces? With everything from booking and availability to security and physical access, the question is how you manage that seamless experience across a fragmented world of flex that is now going to be interwoven with the traditional real estate world.

For landlords and occupiers alike, it is not a question of if, or when, they can deliver flexible real estate solutions. Rather, it is a question of how – and how fast. Previously, we would educate landlords in the commercial real estate world about the benefits of flex, but now they are coming to us to say they know they need it and that their customers are telling them they want it, too. Landlords know they need to act, and with occupier requirements evolving quickly, they must adapt to stay competitive and remain relevant.

That is where our newly launched Flex Services Platform comes in. Built on private network and cloud infrastructure, the platform provides the technology that is needed in the post-Covid-19 world to deliver next-generation flexible workspace experiences across commercial real estate.

Key pillars

There are four key pillars of our platform.

The first is our secure digital infrastructure. We have taken the foundations of our original connectivity-focused infrastructure and built it up into something much more — a seamless building-to-building physical experience. We have created something that can deliver physical access control, digital signage and the ability to book, tap and open rooms with a smartphone, to name but a few of the features. Amid the current concerns around social distancing and the spreading of bacteria, touchless experiences like the ones we provide have become a big topic.

flexible office

The second pillar is space management. The focus on effective space set-up is based around our digital replica of the built world and the ability for customers to have a digital twin or a digital representation of the physical spaces across their estate of buildings — be it anything from the buildings and the floors, to the meeting rooms, desks, event spaces and suites — so that all the insights we have created on the platform can be presented in a digital representation of the world they understand. You can collect all the data in the world, but unless you can present it in a very easy way for each customer to understand, it is hard to provide a proper perspective. This will feed into the analytics across our customers and landlord base, which can then lead to better-designed spaces, occupancy monitoring and much more cost-effective resource deployment.

The third pillar is flexible operations management. This is very much about the automation of everything from booking and availability to contracts and leases. The key thing here is that we are not reinventing the wheel; we are integrating with best-of-breed platforms, rather than asking customers to displace all their existing investments and bring us in to do everything.

The final pillar, and arguably the most important one now, is the occupier experience. It is about compiling the capability of the other three pillars into an experience via a mobile app or web portal that allows enterprise customer employees or normal tenant occupiers to seamlessly move in through the buildings, consume services and touchlessly interact with the physical space.

Collectively these pillars have given us a range of advantages: the highest levels of security, resilience and connectivity; the removal of complexity through simplification and automation of core processes; the transformation of the occupier experience by unifying physical spaces, people and technology; reduced costs; and the ability to scale effectively with a modular approach with firms being able to add components as they need them.

Seamless experience

A big driver behind our Flex Services Platform is the ability it gives to customers to focus on running their business and building their network, rather than having to spend too much time managing the technology. The platform is all about providing a mobile-first seamless experience for the post-lockdown world where we see this seismic shift in how the enterprise customer is going to consume space. We have been working on it for many years and, although we could not possibly have predicted the catalyst that was to come in the form of Covid-19, we always knew this was our vision of where the world was going to go.

Employees are increasingly deciding which flex space they can work in today. Do they want to go into a busy place to have a collaborative day, or do they want to go to a quiet place to get stuff done? With the better data we are getting from spaces – everything from Wifi, access, occupancy sensors and, of course, environmental monitoring – we can really give great insight into the more dynamic world that we are moving into. Leveraging big data and making predictive analysis about how our customers and landlords can use and design space better will ultimately lead to a better experience and a better product.

We have just launched this platform and throughout the rest of this year, we will be rolling out features as the months go on.

Going into 2022 and beyond, we are really looking to elevate that seamless real-time occupier experience and make the most of the insights we can get. Ultimately, we want to simplify and streamline the whole experience of real estate, and with our current infrastructure and operations, we are in a unique position to do that.

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About essensys

Established in 2006, essensys is the world’s leading provider of software-as-a-service and technology to the flexible real estate industry. We empower ambitious workspace providers to meet the growing demand for flexible workspace solutions. Our secure, all-in-one platform delivers secure digital infrastructure, effective space setup, seamless operations and mobile-first occupier interactions. It enables friction-free in-building experiences, instant control over processes, technology and occupier services, as well as clear visibility into space and service utilisation.
Find out more at essensys.tech

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