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Can proptech help persuade staff to return to the office?

Teresa Lee of Round Hill Ventures, which backs several proptechs including Plentific and Canopy, reveals how tech can lure back workers.

Nigel Lewis

proptech return office

teresa lee proptechStrong businesses understand that their workforce is their most precious asset. Yet, more and more staff are starting to feel disenfranchised from their employers.

In a recent survey conducted by Cushman & Wakefield, less than 50% of employees globally feel engaged with their company culture, and do not feel like they are learning informally.

Covid restrictions have of course played a significant part in these findings – it’s much harder to build a culture in your organisation when your workers are glued to their home desks.

But with restrictions easing, the worry now is that staff seemingly feel unable to remove themselves from their home comforts, leaving businesses having to deal with the consequences of long leases (signed before the pandemic hit), empty desks and shattered morale.

Some of the methods to coax staff back to the office don’t seem to be working either.

Free smoothies?

From offering free smoothies to even going as far as forcing staff to commute in, employers are clearly not doing enough to convince their people to come back, creating unmotivated, disenfranchised workers as a result.

Balancing work, wellbeing, and life has rightly jumped to the top of workers’ minds, and businesses need to re-evaluate what work means, but in the right way.

So what’s the fix? This is of course a multi-layered problem, but I do believe a lot of this can be stripped down to providing quality experiences for staff.

The same Cushman & Wakefield survey concluded that employees with freedom to choose where they work and how often to go into the office have higher experience scores. 60% of people who visit the office frequently (three or more days in a week) reported high levels of inspiration, versus 53% of people who work primarily remotely.

Business leaders, therefore, need to ensure that their offices are fit for purpose. This is where I believe PropTech has a major role to play in improving the experiences for companies and their staff – what we like to call, the ‘tenant experience.’

The tenant experience is exactly what it sounds like – the experience of people who live or work in a building or a property in which they are a tenant.

Most importantly, it includes features that add comfort or bring convenience for companies and their staff, supporting working in both the office and at home.

A number of tech platforms that we work with at Round Hill Ventures provide top-class tenant experience tech, which is an attractive proposition for trying to lure staff back to the office.

This includes, but is not solely limited to: improved space optimisation and security access; on-demand services tailored for staff;[1]  lighting sensors and smart meters; and better on and off-boarding support amongst others. Tenant experience tech can also help companies decide where to locate to and what they really need in the space they are going to occupy, extracting as many benefits as possible for staff.


It’s beneficial for landlords and real estate developers too. For the landlord, tenant experience tech could simplify many inefficient processes along the tenant onboarding and off-boarding journey, such as signing tenancy agreements, document processing, and tenant background checks.

A real estate developer whose property has incorporated tenant experience tech can potentially attract more investors and buyers, especially if there are ESG requirements or other preferences.

As people start to return to the office, employers need to rethink how they can make their current setup work – not only as a way to improve employee experience but also to maintain the reflection of the company values and culture.

And tenant experience proptech could play a crucial role in building a satisfied and inspired workforce.

Read more about the post-Covid workforce return.

February 28, 2022

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