Everything in the future of buildings will strive to be a connected immersive journey, specifically customised to the individual user’s needs.

More and more customers are talking to us about the importance of the user experience within their buildings, and they’re asking us how we can help ensure that their spaces, and the management of them really works for them going forwards.

How do you manage the building so that it’s comfortable and how do you manage the temperatures so that at 2pm, when I have that lull and deafly feel and the need to fall asleep, we can change the environment to keep everyone productive.

This raises some fundamental questions, not just now, but in the future construction of new buildings:

  • How do people want buildings to enable them and the work that they do within them?
  • How do they feel the space should be supporting them?
  • What would make a staff member’s journey easier and more efficient?

In my first few months at learnd as Head of Customer Insights, I’ve been asking some of these questions in our customer workshops, with differing answers across our many different customer types, but there are some definite themes or trends that have come from this work.

Trend 1 – Smart Meeting Spaces

Smart meeting rooms and automatically adaptable space are themes we keep hearing for the future of usability. How do staff find a space for the work they want to complete as easily and quickly as possible? Once you’ve used the space and departed, can the room then automatically adjust to a lower energy consumption in its downtime, whilst also highlighting to staff that is available for booking? Making the space work automatically for its inhabitants is a huge part of the future building user journey.

Trend 2 – Flexibility & utilisation is key, but the change runs deeper

We’re hearing much more about space utilisation and flexibility from our customers. Businesses have adjusted their ways of working to a more hybrid or even fully remote model. But it’s important that we take a step back and consider; what new purpose do buildings have now and what experience should that create to deliver an ideal working environment?

Workplaces have gone from being mostly full five days per week, to ad-hoc working spaces. Going forward, they will be places where distributed teams can meet up, work and socialise. Many businesses have closed offices and stores during the COVID-19 pandemic, and are working hard to understand their space utilisation. It seems to make a huge amount of sense to have three offices that are 90% utilised, rather than five that are 50% utilised, for example. But how do businesses do that? It runs deeper than being able to book a desk, or a meeting room. The workplace must become a destination, there needs to be a reason for people to want to go, and that means a nicer environment, better technology and a better experience, and maybe that can be facilitated by having three offices instead of five.

Trend 3 – Health

A healthy workplace is also a theme we have heard a lot. Businesses are considering CO2 levels and pollutants and their effect on workplace productivity. The future landscape is much more considerate of staff wellbeing, and any way a building can provide this for them in the way it is constructed or managed will provide a benefit for clients, businesses, and staff alike.

Health in buildings is now such a big topic, that the WELL Building Institute now provide a WELL Health-Safety seal, so building users can feel confident knowing the space they’re entering is putting their health first. 

Trend 4 – Apps, apps and more apps

App-based management & personalised interaction with push notifications and real-time access and updates is a running theme across our workshops. Sharing key information, such as wayfinding, or digital queuing can help users avoid congested areas and make their journey as frictionless as possible. This type of interaction with a building has been a big topic during our customer workshops, along with visitor apps, room & desk booking apps and more.

Many businesses simply aren’t set up to support this level of user experience currently and need more help to ensure the structural foundations exist for them to be able to achieve this in their future roadmap. Going forward, we will do everything we can to support our customers on their journey to delivering Better Buildings. Guaranteed.