Return to Work: How Tech Solutions Have Changed Our Workplace

An interview with Christian Juel Jensen, Founder of the Danish office intelligence company, Plenom.

For many HR managers work has drastically changed over the last year as they have faced new challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most companies have still not committed to a specific return-to-work arrangement as local and federal guidelines are changing quickly. Research shows that most US companies expect to be back in the office around early fall and therefore many HR managers are currently thinking about how to keep the office safe for their employees.

As companies return to work, so does a question: How can companies welcome their employees back to the office in the best and safest way?

Denmark in New York caught up with Christian Juel Jensen, Founder of Plenom, to hear more about their concept, which helps companies return to work safely. We wanted his advice on organizing companies’ return-to-work strategy, and his take on the future office space.

The Danish design and engineering company manufactures solutions for employees working in open office spaces with their office intelligence solutions.

“We help companies create a better office environment by removing unnecessary interruptions.” Says Christian Juel Jensen, Founder of Plenom

Denmark in New York: What advice would you give any HR or COVID-19 Taskforce Manager when organizing their corporate return-to-work strategy?

Christian Juel Jensen (CJJ): At Plenom we have thought about how we can be a part of the solution; helping minimize the spread of COVID-19. By engaging in dialogue with different US Taskforce Managers we have tried to understand exactly what their concerns are and how to best help them navigate new challenges. Many, I would say, are heavily relying on the CDC Guidelines. One of the guidelines recommended is the use of visual cues and signage that encourage physical distancing. Visual cues are physical objects or devices that encourages (“nudges”) a different behaviour such as a poster reminding employees to sanitize. The goal being to reduce potential risks inside the workplace.

During COVID-19 we have seen a lot of new high and low tech trends emerge that can be helpful for a Taskforce Manager when organizing their corporate return-to-work strategy. Other examples could be, spatial intelligence platforms or people counting sensors that make it easy for management to monitor social distancing. With that being said, intelligent office solutions are definitely here to stay post pandemic as well.

In your opinion what will the future office space look like, and how does the intelligent office solutions fit into the US post-pandemic office space?

CJJ: We know that Covid-19 has changed the way that we work also going forward. There will certainly be more companies offering hybrid options to workers depending on the individual’s role and responsibility. Offices will need to make changes to accommodate this new “come-and-go” approach. It has been suggested that US companies will spend approximately 160B USD over the next couple of years redesigning the workplace — primarily with a focus on tech solutions. We have already heard from companies redesigning their workplace with a hospitality-style approach to desks/rooms. These stations will be fully equipped so workers simply show up with their notebooks and are ready to go. COVID-19 has made employees expect more flexibility. Companies will have to accommodate the ‘new normal’ to retain and attract talent on an ongoing basis.

On another note, a free seating office environment might lead people to see new colleagues every day which in turn will make visual signage and intelligent office solutions that much more important in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Companies are deploying desk booking solutions to manage the desks and offices while maintaining appropriate levels of capacity in the building. These applications allow users to easily reserve a space while giving management control over what space may be booked. Plenom has worked on integrating these solutions with other intelligent office solutions.

Tell us about Plenom and how you have been working with return-to-work?

CJJ: I founded Plenom back in 2008 to optimize office workflow. Time went by and we have taken the intelligent office solutions to a new level. Since the beginning of COVID-19, every workplace has been forced to familiarize themselves with Unified Communication Platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. At Plenom we have been working on expanding the public knowledge of the potential of business intelligence solutions for many years — however, COVID-19 has definitely accelerated the development. Now Plenom’s Busylights ties into 40 different Unified Communications Platforms.

What type of companies benefit the most from intelligent office solutions?

There is no doubt that intelligent office solutions will play a big role when companies return to work. Since COVID-19, most companies have a Unified Communications platform for making calls and chats. This is the key common denominator for our intelligent office solution. We have a large global deployments with oil companies, banks, financial institutions, universities as well as small companies. All benefit from intelligent office solutions with just a handful of units.

Read more about Plenom’s office intelligence here.

Katrine Nørholm Jensen is the Strategic Communications and Press intern at Denmark In New York.

Simone Frandsen, is the Assistant Commercial Advisor at Denmark in New York.

Victoria Bager, is the Commercial Advisor at Denmark in New York.

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