Meet Thijs Van Der Burgt, CEO & Co-Founder at Real Estate Engagement Platform: Office App

We started OfficeApp back in 2014 and have since become real estate’s most advanced engagement platform for professionals in offices. Our tenant experience app is revolutionising the way that office environments are utilised, improved, experienced and built around the world.

We started life in The Netherlands, but have quickly grown and deployed our technology across Europe, including in the UK, France and Germany.

We launched our London office in 2019 and see the market as an important growth region for us, with plans to make further hires in the coming months to keep up with growing demand from existing and new customers.
Office App - TOPdesk Marketplace

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

It was back when I was working on an integration project at Phillips. It was my first experience in a large office building and I’ll never forget those early days. I had to use so many different systems just to manage my daily work and each had a really poor experience.

It sparked my interest in the space and left me wondering if other buildings had this issue too. I tested my hypothesis by talking to landlords and corporates in my network to gauge the need for a unified employee experience that focused on accessibility to amenities, services and community, and enabled people to book meeting spaces, report issues and connect with others in the same building.

While the initial enthusiasm was high, there was still another barrier to implementing a single platform. Most buildings had legacy systems, and although most did not have APIs, some were starting to release early versions. I took a gamble that these providers would need to create APIs in order to be relevant and that building owners would eventually need to unify the experience. Office App was born as a systems integrator from day one and this gave us flexibility to adapt regardless of systems already in place.

The other problem I observed was that property managers were making decisions based on assumptions because they couldn’t centralise the data from each system. Our pitch to customers; which can be both landlords and corporates, was to create a single source of truth that unified data in a building and allowed property managers to make decisions on how to reduce costs, operate more efficiently, become more sustainable and provide a better employee experience.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

Our business strategy and company culture have always been agile and well suited to adapt to factors outside of our control such as a pandemic or economic downturn. Technology is the heart of our business and the key enabler for helping our customers become more adaptable to the new ways of working we will be seeing. For example, our product provides both a touchless and seamless experience for employees; so you can operate your office experience from just your smartphone.

For our customers, a lot has been uncertain during the pandemic. The most critical advice we have given them is to make decisions based on real-time data and not second guesses. For those customers that already had Office App implemented, it gave them an unfair advantage of having a data-driven building, and being able to plan return to work strategies safely and new amenity programmes based on user demand.

For us, the future of work was already aligned with the direction we were heading in; many companies offering their employees more choice and flexibility, and normalising hybrid working. For Office App, our library of integration partners means we can quickly and easily deploy new requirements such as desk bookings or daily check-ins. If the building has a new demand, it’s just about finding the right integration partner and not having to build new functionality.

What can we hope to see from OfficeApp in the future?

Our long-term vision has not changed; it’s still to continue being the single source of truth for offices with our 42 (and growing) integration partners. We expect this to be over 200 by the end of the year, covering more than 80% of any integration requirement a customer may need.

This growing library will offer us speed to implement at scale, including rolling out to global real estate portfolios.

Our data analytics will provide on-demand dashboards letting customers know how to operate their building effectively, reduce operational and maintenance costs, and access a universe of data points to provide meaningful insights before making any critical decisions. This will create value for landlords and corporates by giving them incredible decision-making power, and giving employees in the building a ‘me-centric experience based on their individual preferences.

The real estate sector is often regarded as a slow adopter of technology with many legacy systems not talking to one another. Many might think we are years from being able to unify data from so many systems, but in reality, Office App is very close and when we do, it will change the industry in a way that brings value to the entire ecosystem; from landlords, to corporates, to employees.