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Create Workplaces Worth Returning To


Reimagining work locations—from collaboration to coffee

This article was contributed by Jonathan McFarlane, Co-Founder and CEO of Meraki technology partner PlaceOS.

Young entrepreneur having a business meeting inside of an office while their colleagues are walking in blurred motion.

What happened to workplaces?

The rise of the knowledge worker was the first trend to cut the tether between employees and the physical office. Concurrently, many people started working for themselves as freelancers or in the gig economy. This was all made possible by technology such as fiber-connected homes and fast mobile internet, and web conferencing becoming ubiquitous. 

In densely populated cities, many enterprises embraced hot-desking as a way to downsize their real estate footprint. Hybrid work is not new for some organizations, but suddenly, all workplaces were forced to adopt flexible working practices thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Location-based workplace incentives 

One benefit of returning to the office is that there are some things you can only get at work. For me, it’s good coffee. It’s simple, but enough to get me in the office most days. With the draw card of your workforce, you can attract good coffee retailers and service providers. 

To take it a step further, work with suppliers on incentive programs that you can incorporate into the workplace experience. For example, reward employees with points and allow retailers to accept them for payment or discounts. This makes the workplace and surrounding area a more desirable location. 

Leverage your network

To support location-based incentives, we need location-based awareness. If you’re using location data for hot-desk tracking, capacity reporting, or any other facility-related reason, why not leverage the technology to improve the employee experience? If you don’t have location awareness enabled in your office, how can you leverage existing technology without having to roll out completely new hardware? 

The short answer is…your network. 

An intelligent network such as Meraki can provide location data without users having to download or open apps. It can be as simple as counting people in zones or as granular as tracking people to desks. With that in mind, I encourage you to think of user experiences around this capability, not just reporting and facility management. 

For example, an integration and automation platform like PlaceOS can trigger actions based on the real-time data Meraki provides to create seamless experiences like:

  • Unlocking doors automatically on approach
  • Allowing service providers to deliver goods directly to employees, wherever they are in your building 
  • Automatically assigning lockers that are closest to the employee and allowing service providers to use it as a drop box 

Encourage your employees to return to work by creating spaces and experiences they can’t get at home. Once there, provide a great hospitality-inspired experience. 

Or in my case, come for the coffee, stay for the collaboration.


To learn more about the PlaceOS app for smart workplaces or request a demo, visit PlaceOS on the Meraki Marketplace.

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Jonathan McFarlane