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More tech companies join the office software arena as hybrid work rises

Connected Real Estate Magazine reported last week on flexible space provider WeWork’s launch of its space management solution, WeWork Workplace. The solution was designed to provide companies with a universal platform to manage inventory across different office spaces, enhance employee experiences and optimize space through insights and analytics.

It turns out WeWork isn’t alone in such ventures, The Wall Street Journal reports. Established tech companies like Cisco Systems and Honeywell International, as well as startups like VTS and HqO are also now offering different apps, data, telecommunications and additional software as the office space industry tries to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the pandemic first started, tech companies helped businesses deal with health, safety and telecom systems as their workers began to work remotely. Today, priorities have shifted to helping businesses and CRE owners overcome the slow reopening of their traditional office spaces. The hybrid approach has been a common one amongst companies, but that comes with its own set of issues. Companies now have to think about how to handle conference room bookings, office designs, indoor air quality, scheduling and more.

This has opened the door for companies like WeWork, Cisco and Honeywell to offer their space management platforms. Cisco is presenting its services that include its teleconference system that blocks out background noise. It also offers a space management tool that monitors how often conference rooms and other office space is used. The company added these solutions to its own New York offices as a way to present them for potential sales.

Meanwhile, Honeywell’s People Counting software analyzes security camera footage to keep real-time log of how many people enter and leave an office building. Other tech companies are working with businesses and CRE owners to encourage workers to come back to their office, which has been an uphill climb as people have gotten used to working remotely, The Wall Street Journal reports. Businesses are hopeful these new office apps and data tools will help combat workers’ hesitancy to come back to the office by making the workplace safer, more efficient and more fun.

It’s too early to tell how big the office software business is, but the thought is that it’s estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

WeWork’s hope for its space management solution

WeWork’s launch of its Workplace solution was in part to help increase its falling share price, according to The Wall Street Journal. There doesn’t appear to be much industry confidence that it will matter though, according to analysts.

“It seems to be a diversion, more than anything else, away from what is a bad business model,” David Trainer, chief executive of investment-research firm New Constructs, told The Wall Street Journal.

On the other hand, Alexander Goldfarb, Piper Sandler’s senior real estate investment trust analyst, forecasted that increasing occupancy numbers with solutions like WeWork Workplace and cutting cost margins could help the flexible office space provider reach positive cash flow by 2024.

“WeWork is a great outfit for companies looking for flexibility and small businesses to have, especially when you’re trying to figure out what your office needs,” Goldfarb said.

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