High employee motivation and productivity is something each company struggles with, in some form. Research suggests that today, the average worker is only productive for three hours in an eight-hour day; ironic, since about a century ago, Henry Ford had cut daily work hours to eight and doubled wages. The idea was to enable each employee to have eight hours of work, leisure and rest respectively, with the aim of driving productivity while striking the perfect work-life balance. Admittedly, a lot has changed since the 1900s, especially in terms of our demands—a progressive shift from buying products to receiving a service, and now to gaining an experience that is more exciting and memorable.
The impact of this shift towards an experience economy is apparent in how employees, just like consumers, assign equal importance to the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ in terms of the tangible and intangible benefits that an organisation provides. There is a growing preference among employees for having provisions for health food at the office cafeteria, flexible work hours to accommodate social and family needs, indoor gaming or leisure zone to de-stress while at work; all of which have now been proven to enhance workplace satisfaction. As a result, user experience at the workplace is assuming greater importance for employees in choosing where they would prefer to work and affects their satisfaction and efficiency levels as well.
Understanding this desire for uplifting experiences, employers need to facilitate in consistently providing positive and inspiring experiences at the workplace to help drive better employee loyalty, motivation and productivity. Obviously, upgrading a workplace’s physical and digital environment to achieve the above entails an investment in real estate, which can be more efficiently used in driving business growth. With increasing amenities, there also comes an added onus of ensuring regular upkeep and timely maintenance in addition to routine activities such as housekeeping, security and waste management. Therefore, organisations that aim to maximise profits while balancing such preferences are opting for long-term leases on real estate that has these requirements pre-built.
Having recognised this need, Commercial Real Estate (CRE) providers are globally transforming workspaces from an arrangement of mundane office cubicles to being mixed-use sites that provide a holistic space for living, working and playing. This paradigm shift has been brought about by the concept of SPaaS, an abbreviation for Space-as-a-Service, which broadly encompasses rental models like co-working, co-living and brand-boxing, in which the CRE landlords provide the requisite fixtures and a slew of services, including facility management, housekeeping staffing requirements and communication management through a SPaaS provider.
Globally, WeWork is arguably one of the best-known examples of a SPaaS provider. In India we are now witnessing a surge in the number of firms engaging in providing this service with in-house research on workplace experience and design with a dual focus of enhancing workplace satisfaction, while driving cost-efficiencies for organisations leasing the real estate.
Considering that about 50 percent of non-productive time at a workplace is spent in communication or accessing information, SPaaS providers are bringing about a set of technology-enabled solutions using high-speed data connectivity, ubiquitous use of smartphones coupled with cloud computing and IoT technology to unlock more productivity. Through effective usage of spatial structuring and digital technologies, SPaaS providers are integrating user experience with the physical work environment; this empowers employers to offer an engaging and seamless experience for staff with standard benefits across all operating locations.
Organisations can foster shared or collaborative learning amongst their employees due to the improved social interaction, driving both productivity and efficiency at the workplace. This shared learning is touted as an important factor in building strong teams that can adapt to the volatility, complexity and ambiguity that has now become the ‘new normal’ across industries, and can help organisations successfully tide over challenges posed by the business environment.
It is thus clear that SPaaS can effectively help drive employee productivity, facilitating optimum space management, and bring about operational costs. What is the most tangible benefit, however, is better living and working; and that is the eternal pursuit of humankind.
The author is Founder and Managing Director of SILA.
The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.
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