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Future of the Workplace with Transact Technology and Penshee

Welcome to our first Future of the Workplace Portico panel discussion with TransACT Technology Solutions and Penshee guest experience research company

The UK’s workplace landscape is undergoing profound changes, propelled by advancements in technology and evolving work patterns post-Covid. At the end of July, we at Portico hosted our first panel discussion on the future of the workplace, having invited our partners, technology company TransACT Technology Solutions and guest experience research service Penshee to host debate, exploring current evolution in the technology marketplace and its impact on the way we work. We discussed the concept of hotelification and its effects on guest services, while analysing the future of the workplace regarding guest services during this transformation.

What are the current evolutions in the technology marketplace and how this affects the way we work?

Sam Farrant, Head of Digital Workplace at transACT: The biggest thing we're seeing now is consolidation. A workplace platform now needs to have all the features that companies are after, integrating seamlessly. Technological consolidation is key.

Dan Fattorini, AV Director at transACT adds: Digital equality is being demanded in the workplace, organisations have to ensure they have the technologies that can deliver seamless communication between remote and in-office employees. It's about providing an at-home experience from within the office, an equal experience for all.

How is technology having an impact on the guest experience?

Hanna Barratt, Operations Director at Portico: While technology is a huge factor, it should be that behind-the-scenes element, making guest services seamless and efficient. It doesn't however outweigh the human element, which will always be required.

Giles Gordon-Smith, MD at Penshee: Technology is great and can make the client or employee experience efficient and timely. But the gap between good and great experiences will always be about the human element of the service.

As consumers, we come across brilliant digital services and seamless journeys: for example, when using Airbnb. What is hotelification and how is this impacting guest services?

Giles: Hotelification is about creating a real hospitality experience in the workplace. You have to understand well what the expectation is, we have clients that come to us and say they want a five-star experience, and the first thing we will do is ask what they mean by a five-star experience.

For me, you need human interaction, human service elements that are vital to creating a customer experience. For example, it’s about opening the whole reception up so that people can interact with people.

Oliver, Operations Director for Portico: I think that this brilliance in service delivery comes from understanding and the amplification of the changes that have been taking place in the office environment. I recently read a report that said that since the pandemic, around 90% of office workers now have a choice about where they work. So, to me, hotelification is about making the office the choice for the employees to come into.

How could we create a new workplace environment where all those digital and human elements come together?

Sam: Technology should automate routine tasks, freeing up people to focus on the human elements of the workplace. I’m not a huge fan of having to go into a building, queue behind a long queue of people to then be greeted by heads and shoulders behind a monitor, who probably doesn’t even look at me actually and just puts things into automation.

Even when the whole process is automated, the first point of contact that I need is that human being, who can help me if I need it, or they're there in case something does go wrong.

Do you have an example of such a brilliant symbiosis of service and tech?

22 Bishopsgate - A Bold Approach to Workplace Efficiency:

Hanna: Somewhere that for us is leading currently would be 22 Bishopsgate, it’s huge, it’s a vertical village, with 56 floors that are full.

But from a guest experience perspective, when arranging your meeting, you will receive a QR code well before the meeting, it’s up to you to read the instructions, and you’ll get a boarding pass with a QR code. It has colours on it that coordinate the lift lobby, and if you have read all of that, you can arrive and you can check yourself in and you can go through the gates and get the correct lift and you can go to the right floor. Then, you tap your QR code, and it will send an e-mail to the client or the host, and they will know you're coming, and you will not have to talk to one single human.

When you think that you can do that to get into a 56-storey building, that is world-leading and that is a bold thing to do. However, we often have this discussion: whether you have two or 200 visitors, I can bet you some people would want to talk to somebody, and they're always wanting to be interacting. Would anybody just want to use that process and go straight through in a building that size? Probably not. And that's where the human element comes in.

On advancing the ESG Agenda through Technology and Guest Services:

Sam: One of the challenges is the environmental impact of plastic access cards. We need to find sustainable alternatives for access control. You also need to look at technologies that monitor buildings, power usage, air conditioning etc. But it’s all going back to this consolidation of an all-encompassing platform. You can use this tech and the data it collects throughout the building to figure out what's going on. That’s where technology is key because you might not need heating in that room or lights in a certain room for example.

Oliver: It just falls back to people, doesn't it? Very often our people are the face of our clients, and there is a little bit of education and enforcement of rules sometimes. We frequently act as the nominated delivery team, promoting eco-friendly practices among employees and guests.

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The future of the workplace lies in striking the right balance between technology and the human touch. Technological advancements and hotelification offer exciting opportunities for efficiency and enhanced guest services. However, the human element remains essential for authentic connections and personalized experiences. By embracing technology while preserving human interaction, workplaces can create an environment that fosters productivity, engagement, and sustainability.

Our next event is to be announced shortly, please follow us on our socials at @porticopeople for instagram, or @portico for LinkedIn and Twitter.