TechRepublic’s Karen Roby spoke with Fabien Girerd, the founder and CEO of Jooxter, at CES 2021 about the workplace management app and how it helps during the pandemic. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
SEE: CES 2021: The big trends for business (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature)
Karen Roby: Before we get into workplace management, in light of COVID, the world we’re all living in now, just give us a quick 30-second overview of Jooxter and the work you guys do.
Fabien Girerd: I founded Jooxter about six years ago, related to a smart building. I used to work in a big American film called Johnson Controls, where we were talking a lot about smart buildings in terms of energy, but nothing about occupancy. And in fact, for many years we have buildings, commercial buildings, offices, and while people were going mobile the ratio of the percentage of occupancy was going down. And you can imagine now with the crisis of COVID, there is a total, a big, big change in this area.
Karen Roby: Yeah, a really big change in this area and bringing people into the office or back to the office and whatever way that’s going to look for companies, it’s going to be a challenge and managing that will be no small feat. So talk a little bit about how you guys are helping companies to do that going forward.
Fabien Girerd: The first thing is to a Jooxter in a nutshell is a mobile and a web application where we manage all the space. And the idea is to get two things for the occupants is just to click, to find the space they need. It can be in the building to go for a one-to-one Zoom session and to isolate. Or it can be for meetings and make sure there are available meeting rooms and not book space which are all empty. But with the COVID, what’s happening is the need for working together is becoming really important because everybody now works from home. And when you work from home, you still have the need to meet colleagues. You want to know where people are, you want to interact with people. So, why are you going back to the office? There are two things you want to have, is to make sure you will find a secure space where there are no COVID issues. There are no people having been infected in the past. And secondly, you want to be there while your friends, your colleagues are there.
SEE: Best of CES 2021: Everything you need to know about the new products and tech announced (TechRepublic Premium)
Karen Roby: And Fabien, talk a little bit about the tech behind the tech and how this was developed and you know, where you see it going.
Fabien Girerd: We used to acquire the term, we said smart occupancy. Jooxter is a very niche, specialized solution for smart occupancy. Our goal is to manage data in terms of occupancy data, understand the usage of the space, but also understand the usage as a demand. So the demand is people going to the office, what do they need when they go? And with the COVID, it’s very important to compare the new demand in terms of kind of space, because you don’t need any more cubicles because if you want to go, if you work on the cubicles, you work from home now. But you need to understand in terms of data, I mean space, what type of space people need. And from a manager or site manager point of view, you need to understand what kind of space you need to offer to your people, to your talent for them to go to the office because they need to collaborate.
So, in terms of data, there is data you need to collect from the usage of the user. It can be when they want, when they go to the office, they use the app because they said, “Hey guys, I will be at the office tomorrow.” They can use Teams as well, so we’re going to collect information from collaborative tools. And on the other end, we also collect information from the actual space to analyze the usage. So then you can, in the future, we’re going to be able to do some predictive analysis. Comparing the offer with the demand in terms of space. Does it make sense for you?
SEE: IT hardware procurement policy (TechRepublic Premium)
Karen Roby: Yes. Most certainly. Most certainly. Is this your first time at CES?
Fabien Girerd: In fact, it’s the third time we went to the CES. Last year, we were with Legrand, a big infrastructure ethical company where we explained that we’re going to launch. We work with them on an R and D project to use sensors to measure the number of people in an office. So Jooxter being an app, we will integrate with the smart building, big players. So we provide the software, they provide the hardware and we can analyze the actual occupancy of the space. And this time, in fact we wanted to go to the CES because we are launching our new app, which is really user centric. It’s really talking about everyone like yourself and myself. When do I need to go to the office? How can I use my app very quickly to tell I’m going to be to the office and from a site manager, they are going to manage what we call now, the hybrid workers, the new way of working hybrid because now to work half remote and half to the office. And this is all to articulate that, how to simplify the day in everyone’s life, by having an app that simplifies that. And from an enterprise point of view, you need to get data because we don’t know. There are a lot of things we don’t know with this new way of working. An hour ago, we had Steve Cadigan, former LinkedIn HR manager, who was explaining the fact that now our workplace is also a home. There is a lot of change that is going to happen. So how are we going to, as a company would organize themselves. So we will provide data for that.
Karen Roby: Well, change is definitely the word, right? We’ve all had to change and adapt, and we’ll have to continue to do that as we roll through 2021 as well. I certainly appreciate you being here with me today. And I know we wish we were all in Las Vegas for the hands-on experience, but I guess this is the next best thing for us.
Fabien Girerd: We are in the CES online. It’s very different from the last two sessions because it’s difficult to interact, but we managed to get some interaction with this platform. So it’s quite great but it’s not the people interaction, human interaction. And this is why when we Zoom works, we can… Everybody gets lots and lots of teleconference. But this will never be the same as meeting each other. So I had one of the parties, the guest on our webinar was saying, in Jooxter, we can find, where is Fabien? You know, where are your colleagues physically? Because we know next week it’s going to be at the office or remotely, but there is also something that if you want to know where your colleague is in his mind? It is really, really difficult to do it through Zoom. People interact, human interaction, you can see that. I can see there is a lot of the need to get some technology to get the people together. We never did not replace all zoom and all this visual conference who fully remote won’t work as an enterprise.