Skip to main content Skip to footer

Part 5: The Power of Data for the Return-to-Office


As explored throughout this series, a return-to-office (RTO) choreography should follow a sequence of steps for the optimal outcome. But much like a dance, the choreography must be adaptable and responsive – especially to data.


The return to work still poses many unknowns but prioritizing data can lead the way, illuminating next steps as companies look to test, assess and pivot.


Implementing New Technology
Data gathering technology for real estate continues to become more nuanced and sophisticated, with capabilities to for real-time tracking and more pinpointed metrics. For those that are hesitant to explore new technologies, RTO presents an ideal opportunity to experiment with different digital tools that will unlock better data.


Today, there’s a wide array cutting-edge technology available for occupiers that want to go beyond basic utilization statistics. One that’s at the forefront of real estate data capturing is Basking, which specializes in providing data for capacity planning.


Using Wi-Fi hubs, Basking is able track how many people are in a space, the busiest periods and peak timeframes. During the pandemic, Basking was able to help monitor and implement capacity rules specific to social distancing.


As companies strategize their RTO, software like Basking can help them better understand their space as a whole, how it’s being used, which specific areas are high-traffic zones, and which are not.

Identifying Valuable Data Points
Using the right technology to gather data is key, however, it’s crucial to identify which data points will be most helpful. How to get the information is half of the battle – what the data is and how it’s used will paint the complete picture.

For example, the data that companies sought during the pandemic is different than what they want to capture now. Last year, it was more important to focus on the ability to measure occupancy based on capacity requirements. Today, as companies map out the return-to-office, it makes more sense to measure different space usage to inform future office design.

"Data governance can provide the structure needed to ensure the workplace data collected is accurate, secure and usable," according to Colette Temmink, Chief Strategy & Product Officer for Blue Skyre IBE. "Continuous improvement through data insights and governance can generate new insights which could strengthen the quality of service delivery and create even better customer centric solutions."

Overall, companies must decide what they are trying to measure and why. Going in with an end goal in mind, and the specific questions that data can help answer, will simplify the output.

Looking Ahead
As employees begin their return, data can make the transition smoother and more comfortable for everyone. 

By using to data to understand how people are using the different zones in the office, companies can investigate the root cause and make adjustments to questions such as: are there kitchen fumes? Is there too much noise? How is access to light affecting consumption?

This kind of space utilization data both enhances the environment for workers and helps companies design and build more efficient spaces, eliminating costs for areas that go unused and creating the optimal office based on the business’ unique needs and priorities.

No one can predict what the future of work will look like, but data can illuminate a clearer path forward. Not every RTO choreography will look the same. While the timing and movement may look different from one business to another, the goal is always to move forward together and discover the best ways to use and occupy space.


Click to read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4.

Related Experts

Andrea Wolf

Vice President, Real Estate & Workplace Strategy | Global

Toronto - 1140 Bay

Andrea Wolf is the Vice President, Real Estate & Workplace Strategy, Global for Colliers' leased portfolio.

She brings over 25 years of Corporate Insurance, Risk Management and Commercial Real Estate experience in the private sector including Financial Institutions, Professional Service Firms, Automotive Manufacturing, Telecommunication, Consumer Goods, Media and Technology industries.

Andrea has managed more than 20 Million SF of commercial property and has acted as a Global Strategic Account Manager for several Fortune 500 companies. She often speaks at Conferences on Workplace Strategy, Organizational Strategy,  Change Management and the impact technological advances are having on the work force. She has worked on both the end user and service provider side and that affords her a unique perspective on the holistic application of real estate strategies. Her breadth and depth of knowledge provide her with a comprehensive understanding of both the practical and the strategic application of the principles affecting employees in today’s corporate office.


View expert