Business is booming for professional services. Even before the pandemic, consultancies were in high demand as clients upgraded infrastructures, beefed up security, and added software solutions for greater efficiencies and cost savings.
Now hybrid work has been added to the mix.
Flexible is the future — and present ― of work. With clients everywhere adapting to new flexible work models, what trends are professional services seeing with their customers?
The same trends they see internally. Here’s a look at how technology consultancies are developing successful office plans for their clients and employees, and some best practices for the rapidly transforming workplace.
The Curated Employee Experience
Talk around the virtual water cooler these days is about how to earn the employee’s commute. The workforce is demanding more flexibility in terms of when and where to come to the office. But senior management is concerned that lack of face-to-face communication hinders aspects like relationships and brainstorming.
This dynamic is putting pressure on firms to design environments where employees want to come into the office.
“With more jobs than jobless, we're in a new talent reality,” Katie George, senior partner and chief people officer at McKinsey & Company, told Business Insider. “Companies face an unprecedented hurdle to attract and retain talent and a pivotal moment to develop skills.”
Restaurants, on-site childcare, pop-up events and more are creating a more welcoming office experience. Businesses are reconfiguring desk space for a workforce in the building less frequently. Technology driving these initiatives includes:
- Hybrid work scheduling systems with mobile check-in/ check-out
- Reporting tools that give insights into analytics like underutilized spaces
- Video conferencing for better remote collaboration
- Sensors that help monitor occupancy and resource utilization
A More Collaborative Work Environment
The role of the office is changing. It’s increasingly a place for interaction — with mentors, peers, customers, managers, etc. As a result, companies are focusing on a workplace environment that caters to in-person interactions.
But developing collaborative spaces can be challenging. Consider these key findings from The 2022 Work Trend Index:
- 38% of hybrid employees say their biggest challenge is knowing when and why to come into the office
- 43% of leaders say relationship-building is the greatest challenge in remote and hybrid work
- Only 28% of leaders have created team agreements for hybrid work to define why and when to go to the office
That’s why workplace strategists are setting up conference rooms and other meeting spaces through robust meeting room scheduling systems. These systems include integrated video conferencing and HVAC, along with room booking features like calendar integrations, favorites lists, and detailed capacity and seating data.
Increased Technology Investments
Few organizations today have the full technology stack in place to support flexible work.
Just 32% of business decision makers and 33% of IT decision makers think they are completely prepared to support long-term hybrid work, according to the most recent Riverbed | Aternity global survey.
But the situation is changing. Organizations across all industries are ramping up their tech investments:
- Year-over-year tech spend by law firms increased 7.1%, according to the 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market
- Roughly 90% of financial services business plan to increase technology investments to accommodate hybrid initiatives
- 76% of corporate real estate executives ranked enhanced video conferencing as a top-three tech priority
Right-Sized Real Estate
Even before the pandemic, organizations were laser-focused on optimizing corporate real estate.
That trend continues ― and is accelerating. With fewer employees in the office each day, firms are exploring tools like office hoteling or hot desking. And a boom in mergers and acquisitions means we’re seeing an increase in building, office, and location consolidation.
Professional services and other firms are using combinations of tech solutions ― e.g., sensors and workplace management software — to right-size their real estate investments. For instance, optical sensors detect movement to determine when rooms are most occupied, and workplace management software then aggregates the data to provide robust analytics and reporting. The platform tracks metrics such as usage, cancellations, and service changes so companies can make the best possible use of their real estate footprint.
The Future of Flexible Work
These are just a few of the trends we’re seeing as professional services work to help clients make the most of their technological investments. In addition to the above, companies are exploring everything from enhanced cybersecurity for remote teams to employee retention initiatives. But a great place for many businesses to start is with solutions that manage practical considerations, such as room and desk booking software solutions like EMS.
To dive deeper into this topic and explore some of the technologies powering hybrid work, check out our white paper The Flexible Workplace: 2022 Trends and Best Practices.