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Seamless Workspaces: Bridging the Gap Between the Physical and Digital


Ioanna Sotiriou

Head of Marketing & Design


April 10, 2023



Key Learnings

  1. The concept of workspace is changing, and the rise of distributed teams is leading to a dual nature of the workspace - physical and digital.
  2. To connect the physical and digital aspects of a workspace, data must be used as a common language, which demands a clear strategy to integrate the digital system with the physical.
  3. Integrating technology, design, and human-centered thinking is essential to create a user-friendly, intuitive, and adaptable workspace that is both efficient and enjoyable to use for everyone, regardless of their location in the distributed network of workspace.

At Butlr, we eagerly anticipate CBRE and CoreNet Global's insightful research reports. In their latest findings, CBRE and CoreNet Global project a decrease in portfolio square footage over the next 3-5 years, indicating a shrinking of traditional workspace leasing and available space per employee. Additionally, 64% of respondents in the survey are considering the impact of a larger remote workforce on their portfolio strategy, highlighting the need to adapt to changing work patterns.

Source: CBRE and CoreNet Global Annual Study, Dec 2022

The resulting paradox has a hardly surprising outcome:

smaller physical offices + larger workforce = distributed workspace

The rise of distributed teams has brought about a new understanding of the workspace. It is not news that workspace has officially acquired a dual nature today: the physical and the digital (and everyone is talking about it).

However, what we have not yet explored sufficiently is the connection between these two worlds. The true link between the physical office and its intangible counterparts stored in the Cloud (eg Google Workspace) remains severely under-designed.

Let’s take a moment here to appreciate the perks of the digital workspace. The latter is the portion of the office that can be easily distributed, stored, and accessed at our convenience. Think about it - with just a click on the "Settings" panel in any Workspace Platform, we can:

- View its historical data.

- Measure its size and growth rate.

- Quantify its performance.

- Get a deep understanding of its ROI based on utilization rates.

Distributed teams don't only work in the digital workspace; they operate in a continuous exchange between the physical and digital realms. Connecting the physical and digital aspects of the workspace is not only an opportunity to merge the advantages of each but also crucial for creating a work environment that operates smoothly and efficiently, free from hindrances that may result in frustration, delays, or decreased productivity.

Data: The Common Language

To do so, data must be used as a common language. A seamless transition from one world to the other requires this connection. For example, let's consider the calendar. For a hybrid workforce, the calendar is the primary tool for organizing daily life and syncing with the rest of the team, including booking conference rooms, arranging deliveries, and organizing physical events. However, if the physical office doesn't communicate in data, the colorful blocks on a screen become a mere reflection - almost a decorative note - and cannot interact with the system's active information. In essence, virtual scheduling can be done easily, but a meeting room cannot confirm its availability in real-time or even register attendance without data connectivity.

At scale, the discrepancy between the physical and digital aspects of a workspace is even more apparent. Your calendar in Google Workspace, for example, can suggest optimal times for a meeting by scanning the schedules of all participants and finding available gaps. However, the physical office cannot suggest an ideal meeting room based on expected attendance, maximum occupancy, or traffic patterns throughout all available rooms. This lack of data integration results in a suboptimal experience for employees trying to navigate the physical space which, unavoidably, extends to the distributed workforce as well (from all possible places one would like to spend their time in, “waiting room of a call” would probably not make it to Top 5).

The solution to this problem is to integrate the digital and physical aspects of the workspace in a more comprehensive way. This means using the right technology to create a cohesive system that allows for seamless transitions between the physical and digital realms. For example, sensors can be installed throughout the office to track occupancy levels, air quality, and temperature, providing real-time data to the digital system. This data can then be used to make informed decisions about scheduling, resource allocation, and workspace design.

Ultimately, the key to successfully connecting the digital and physical aspects of the workspace is to create a system that is user-friendly, intuitive, and adaptable. This requires a combination of technology, design, and human-centered thinking to create a workspace that is both efficient and enjoyable to use by everyone, regardless of their location in the distributed network of “workspace”


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