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Office with a Retail Slant

During the mid-to-late 20th century, employees worked in offices, no matter how gloomy, uncomfortable or depressing that space was. The prevailing attitude was that employees would do this, whether they liked it or not.

Fast forward several decades to today and employees are in the driver’s seat. Given the continued tight labor market and ongoing demand for the hybrid work lifestyle, most workers have a say about where they want to work – and what that work looks like. According to a recent article from CBRE, this means that trends from retail are spilling over into how office occupiers and their landlords are defining the workspace.

Basically, “top trends we’re seeing in the workplace, regardless of industry, indicate an increased focus on investing in data to capture employee behavior that informs workplace strategy,” said the article. Furthermore, this is similar to the $200 billion data industry that supports retail strategy. CBRE presented the following.

Experience counts

Retail has been trending toward experience. Shoppers want to see, touch and try products. Concept stores focus on brand immersion. CBRE indicated that office space is headed in the same direction, in which the “present-day workplace (is) a hub of brand and cultural immersion.”

Occupiers stress employee connection and collaboration, which helps “reinforce their brand, culture and values with employees,” CBRE said. This will continue as organizations focus on more collaborative experiences, placemaking, and “the creation of memorable moments,” the article noted.

So does foot traffic . . . to an extent

Retail companies measure sales and revenue. They’re also increasingly monitoring how many customers walk into their stores and how much time they spend there. Office occupiers follow suit with their own measures of foot traffic and office utilization – defined as what employees enter the office daily.

CBRE pointed out that merely showing up is half the battle. Just as important is vibrancy. Another CBRE article defined vibrancy as “the level of fullness required to make the office feel energetic and full of life.” Organizations focusing on vibrancy and how often it occurs can depend on more employee engagement, cultural alignment, and higher value in their real estate.

Better data usage

Retail spends a great deal of time and money on consumer information and data to understand consumer behavior and tailor products and experiences toward that behavior. Office occupiers are also interested in using data to “capture employee behavior and influence employee decision-making through personalization,” CBRE explained.

The current challenge in collecting employee data is that it’s self-reported, meaning it’s not accurate. To counteract this, CBRE said it expects to see organizations invest in smart occupancy management technology to capture employee behavioral data. This might include when and how often an employee books a workstation. It would also help encourage employee behaviors, like reminders to come into the office for important meetings, CBRE said.

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About Amy Wolff Sorter

I love content. I love writing it, visualizing it, and manipulating it to fit into different formats. I have years of experience in working with content, both as creator and editor. The content I create and edit provides assistance with many goals, ranging from lead generation, to developing street cred through well-timed thought-leadership pieces. Content skills include, but aren't limited to, articles and blogs, e-mails, promotional collateral, infographics, e-books and white papers, website copy and more.

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