- Companies must address many pressing issues as they navigate the process of bringing employees back to their offices and facilities.
- These include answering questions such as: How many workers do we bring back to our buildings?
- How should we configure our workspaces? How often do we allow employees to work remotely going forward?
Finding the answers to these questions involves diving deep into your industry and business requirements, and the solutions will be different for each organization.
One thing is clear, though: Hybrid work schedules (allowing employees to work from home a certain number of days per week) are here to stay. According to one Accenture report, 83% of workers surveyed prefer a hybrid work model. Additionally, a survey by McKinsey Global Institute in which 100 executives were interviewed shows that nine out of ten companies are considering a hybrid approach.
Along with this new era of work comes new priorities and requirements, such as:
- Providing employees with the ability to easily book and reserve workspaces
- Focusing on the wellbeing and safety of employees in the office
- Leveraging data to manage and plan spaces
- Upgrading office equipment to make it easier to interact with remote coworkers
An integrated workplace management system (IWMS) can help you address the new requirements of a post-pandemic reality. However, to identify IWMS that is right for you, it is crucial to first understand your use cases and end goals. Then you can identify the solutions that help you address those requirements.
The following article outlines a few of these new priorities and requirements, and it explores how IWMS solutions fit in—but it is important to note that there are many other requirements depending on your industry and specific business needs. For now, though, let’s start with space reservations and booking capabilities.
Booking and Reserving Desks and Workspaces
Hybrid work requires staff to be able to easily see space availability—along with their colleagues’ schedules—across distributed teams. One Verdantix study highlights the increase in space booking requirements, saying that traditional solutions will struggle to accommodate this level of complexity.
Employees will require software solutions that allow for easily reserving desks, tables, lab instruments, or other work equipment. That way, they know when they arrive at the office, they’ll have the space and tools necessary to do their work.
Plus, they’ll need to be able to more easily coordinate when and how to collaborate in person. In fact, the same study notes that in several industries, “Executives are looking for their headquarters (HQs) and flagship sites to become hubs for collaboration and interactions, rather than simply places employees use to sit at desks.” As office spaces increasingly become collaboration hubs, it will become more important to allow employees to easily reserve desks, equipment, and co-working sites. This enables offices to be efficient, productive, and safer collaboration spaces—leading to more constructive working sessions.
Focusing on Health and Safety
Most importantly, when employees are in the office, it is vital that they feel comfortable and safe. This means putting an emphasis on the health and well-being of your staff.
With some IWMS solutions, you can schedule cleaning work that meets CDC guidance—before and after individuals or teams use workspaces. Additionally, IWMS solutions with wayfinding and mapping capabilities can help your staff locate where you’ve set up hand sanitizer and PPE kiosks. And with connected inventory management capabilities, you can easily monitor and track your PPE supplies, so you know when you’re running low.
Additionally, IWMS solutions can help you plan and schedule the maintenance of your HVAC systems and other equipment. You can evaluate the performance of your building, comparing it with recommended health and safety guidelines.
Cheryl Carron, President of Integrated Facilities Management at Sodexo noted in an interview with CoreNet Global, “What was considered state of the art, world class, and high end yesterday, will now be the standard going forward. For example, HEPA filtration, touchless controls, social distancing, and the technology that supports all this should be integrated into new design standards and new workplace strategies.”
When your employees feel safer and more comfortable in their working environment, they’re happier and more productive.
Leveraging Utilization Data to Manage and Plan Spaces
An IWMS system that enables you to see how your spaces are being utilized—for example, how many people have used their badges to enter the building, or how long rooms have been reserved for—can give you valuable insights into how much space you need going forward.
However, it is important to note that there is a vast amount of data that you could collect (around space or energy usage, sensor and badge data, etc.). When deciding on the right IWMS solution to help you gather or make sense of data, understand your use cases. By identifying whether you want to address tasks such as monitoring how many people are in a space (like a cafeteria), perform contract tracing, or track when to release a conference room, you’ll be able to identify the solutions that meet those use cases.
Then, when you’re able to track how your spaces are used according to the metrics you’ve identified, you can make better, data-driven decisions about your offices and real estate portfolio going forward. This usage data provides better insights into your leases and properties, and it can help you answer where you should reduce or expand your portfolio.
Upgrading Equipment to Make It Easier to Interact with Remote Coworkers
Organizations also need to put an emphasis on making sure equipment at the office can support connecting to employees wherever they are.
According to Verdantix, some companies are even introducing new kinds of AV equipment into conference rooms in order to improve hybrid meetings. For example, organizations are adding larger screens and digital whiteboards so their staff can collaborate more efficiently with remote coworkers.
With the right IWMS software, your organization can coordinate these upgrades and purchases, making the process easier and more streamlined. IT and facilities teams can keep track of (and coordinate closely on) the maintenance of this equipment. And with IWMS solutions that have work order capabilities, employees can submit help tickets directly within the system if they run into issues, so everything is tracked within the same platform.
Addressing New Workplace Priorities with the Connected Workplace
There are many shifting requirements and priorities to navigate as we begin re-opening workplaces in a post-COVID world. IWMS software solutions can help make the transition easier—but organizations must first look at the new requirements in their industries to best identify which solutions can address their business needs.
Written by Tom Stanford.
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