Understanding the ways in which each employee works is the key to creating a successful customized workplace experience. In this episode, Mikkel Lyngbo Nielsen and host Sabine Ehm discuss methods of how to personalize the employee user experience.
Meet the guest
Mikkel Lyngbo Nielsen is the Chief Real Estate Officer at Ericsson. Throughout his career, Mikkel has seen numerous sides of the real estate industry. He has worked in urban planning, airport development, and for various large infrastructure projects. This varied real estate background has given him the unique advantage of comprehending different perspectives within the industry..
Shortly after accepting his current role with Ericsson, the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to work from home. Fortunately, his superiors saw this as an advantage; Mikkel did not yet know what the offices of the company looked like. With this lack of knowledge, Mikkel is leading a cross-functional project focusing on what the future offices of Ericsson will be without dwelling on the past.
Listen to the following clips to gain insight into Mikkel’s method of predicting the future workplace.
“Workplace experience is not tied, anymore, strictly to the physical office that you’re providing.” – Sabine Ehm
In the past, the workplace experience was only measured with variables pertaining to the physical space. Over the past decade, we’ve seen this mindset slowly change, but it accelerated by the global pandemic. The office of the future will not just simply be a singular place. Instead, it will comprise of many, such as home offices and third-party spaces. Within the world of corporate real estate, many questions have emerged about how this will work: what kind of role will the office actually play in the future? What services will we deliver? How much will we actually be in the office? How do we make it attractive?
“Why look at it only from a workplace experience? Why not try broadening it a little and say what is the user experience?” – Mikkel Lyngbo Nielsen
The user experience of working for a company can be defined as each time a task is performed related to the job. Be it going into the office, logging on to the network from home or having a meeting in a third-party setting, each experience must be thought of when designing the workplace of the future. Mikkel suggests we think of it as a user experience instead of solely workplace, as this encompasses both HR and IT.
“One-size fits no-one [but], we cannot come up with 120,000 solutions. How can we at least define some common patterns within the data?” – Mikkel Lyngbo Nielsen
When Mikkel joined the Ericsson team, he was under the assumption that the workforce would be back in-office within a few months. With this time crunch, Mikkel and the Office of the Future team were under immense pressure to gather good data, fast. In the summer of 2020, they performed data gathering exercises such as the Leesman survey. These data points would then answer questions such as how activities performed at home vs. in-office.
When Mikkel interviewed employees, he found the answers to be black and white: they either enjoyed working from home or didn’t. After digging into the data, he was able to find patterns of certain activities that were difficult to perform at home. Team-focused activities, collaborations, hosting customers, were very difficult to translate virtually. After performing many interviews and workshops, Mikkel and his team found 5 different persona profiles within the company.
“There are a lot of discussions around the office [being] a lot more [about] socializing, coming together and collaborating. We very much have that view, but it’s also important to remember the 10-15% of our workforce that actually needs to focus and do most of their work from the office. How can we also make sure that they have the right environment?” – Mikkel Lyngbo Nielsen
Mikkel and his team came up with 5 different personas that each Ericsson employee would fit into. From there, the office space could be customized to better fit each location’s workforce. When beginning a new project, the team sends out a survey to understand the population of each persona at the specific location. This helps the real estate team curate the space appropriately.
Interestingly, within the 5 personas, 3 were quite similar in that they are capable of working from home, but choose not to. However, each persona has their individual reason for choosing to go in-office, such as performing activities, working on a global team, or simply wanting to socialize and feel a part of a community. Mikkel quotes an employee, saying “I want to feel a part of something bigger than just sitting at home alone wearing my sweatpants”.
The corporate real estate community is in flux on what the office of the future will look like. Looking forward, Mikkel suggests we focus more on understanding what the entire user experience looks like, and including IT and HR in decision making. To add to this, Mikkel has developed a process of defining personas within the Ericsson workforce to be able to make educated decisions on future projects. The pandemic has changed the way we work, and this is how Ericsson is adapting.
The CRE industry would be nothing without the CRE technology that supports it. In this episode, Melanie Mack demonstrates her deep knowledge of CRE technology and the future of the industry.
Meet the guest
Corporate real estate technology is a booming industry, and Melanie Mack is at its forefront. As head of CRE Technology at JLL overseeing EMEA, she’s first to know of the industry’s latest advancements. At JLL, Melanie’s team sells enterprise solutions that solve several CRE problems. The company has a lot of technology vendors, as well as internal software solutions. They work with clients to implement new technologies. The goals include improving space optimization, returning to work, and increasing efficiency in lease and portfolio management.
JLL’s CRE technology team are professionals in the industry. More specifically, they are subject-matter experts for Verdantix or Gartner and also regularly contribute to leading publications. In addition, JLL has an in-house marketing and research team. This ensures they are at the forefront of knowing what the market trends are, but also where they are going and how JLL can influence them. Listen to the clips below to get an idea of Melanie’s knowledge.
“I have seen a little bit of a shift over the past 5 years in terms of the level of data that clients have, and how well, or not, it is organized. ” – Melanie Mack
One of the most important products of CRE technology is an Integrate Workplace Management System (IWMS). These are larger enterprise-level systems. Or, as Melanie puts it, the “Mercedes of real estate management software solutions.” In other words, they can be comparable to an SAP system, but with real estate capabilities. Implementing solutions of this scale requires solid data.
Over the past few years, Melanie and her team have seen a marked improvement in the quality of data they collect from their clients. Previously, they often saw data from Excel spreadsheets that went through extensive quality testing. The adage is, “bad data in is bad data out. What you’re putting into the system is what it’s going to report.”
This impressive shift in thinking can also be seen internally at JLL. In the spring of 2020, an internal data management team was created to collect data sets and turn them into business intelligence. From there, they can improve not only JLL’s decision-making, but also that of their clients.
“We’ve all gone through this working from home experiment. As we embark on this adventure to return back into the office, we have done research at JLL both within our internal teams and our external teams, and there is a percentage of up to %60+ of people that will still want to work from home in some certain capacity.” – Melanie Mack
In the short term, every customer is focused on getting back to work and getting such a project to market quickly. The way people work has changed greatly in the last year and a half; companies can’t ignore it. In the long term, Melanie predicts that big changes are coming. Business structures will be reshaped to better fit a semi-remote workforce that has multiple small centers in cities and beyond. Because of this, the traditional setup of one headquarter and one large building will be a thing of the past.
“Before, success of the workplace was less about employee engagement and more about cost and space management, all related to the underlying decisions that will happen on a portfolio. Now what we’re seeing [that] this ties to talent acquisition and where people want to go work is in these spaces that are engaging and in organizations that focus on the human experience.” – Melanie Mack
According to Melanie, the definition of what a successful workplace is has completely changed. This is mainly due to the way we perceive this success after the “work-from-home experiment”. For instance, companies used to calculate an accomplished portfolio using space optimization and cost-per-foot as their metrics. Now, companies realize the importance of human behavior and ensuring their employees are comfortable. At the end of the day, company culture immensely affects talent acquisition and employee tenure, which in turn affects the bottom line.
Melaine Mack has over 12 years of experience in corporate real estate, and it shows. The depth of her knowledge spans across all types of companies, pertaining to their size, culture, and journeys within CRE. Moving into a post-COVID climate, companies are certain to focus on human behavior elements when designing workplace strategies. Above all, with the C-suite’s attention, the future of CRE technology is looking up.