[Article] FuturePlace Interview Spotlight: Dinesh Malkani, CEO of Smarten Spaces
Dinesh Malkani is the CEO of Smarten Spaces, a technology platform that helps businesses shift to the new hybrid workplace via an end-to-end solution. Previously in leadership roles at AT&T, Lucent, Avaya, Jabra, and Cisco, Dinesh has global familiarity with the challenges and opportunities in offices. We sat down with Dinesh to talk about what the office should look like and technology’s role in making that office a reality.
FuturePlace: What do you predict the new work schedule will look like?
Dinesh Malkani: It’s in the process of evolution. The majority of companies are going to look at new and innovative ways to make the hybrid model successful. The last nine or ten months of the pandemic allowed companies to give flexibility so that their employees could work from anywhere while also picking and choosing when they’d come to the office. It’ll probably not be as prevalent in manufacturing but generally, it will be the biggest shift and change in the workplace we’ve seen. It just makes sense. If you look at it from a company standpoint, this is a great opportunity. They’ll always have continuity processes in place. They’ll also be able to hire from anywhere in the world so location is no longer a factor, you just have to think about the quality of the talent. Plus, it’ll be an opportunity to cut costs.
FuturePlace: Beyond cutting costs, what impact can a hybrid office have on required space?
DM: Before the pandemic, 100% of space was only used 50-60% of the time. Whenever you walked in, you found half the desks empty. Post pandemic, companies are looking to have 70% of the space but use it 100% of the time. From the employee perspective, a hybrid office offers the ability to balance the need to collaborate with the need to be productive and the need to be flexible. Permanently working from home has a low rating – people want a balance. Hybrid offices are going to be the new normal and it’s already being rapidly adopted.
FP: The challenges of working from home can be really distracting as well as isolating. What are some of the common requests you’re getting from clients?
DM: Up until maybe six months ago, the only focus was safety. Companies wanted to make sure as people came back that they were safe. Vaccines weren’t available so pre-screening, making everything contactless, using social distancing, among others were common requirements. That evolved into, “I want safety, but I also want to introduce flexibility and the ability to roster who comes in on what days. I need to know when teams should come back vs stay at home.” Then it kept growing. Now companies want the ability to select seats and sanitize spaces in a smarter way instead of sanitizing everything every day. With space management, now companies have data; they can predict what employees want via surveys and they can start doing more space planning. That’s how it’s been evolving.
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