The “typical” workplace is starting to look a little bit different these days. Since the pandemic began, we’ve seen companies rapidly pivot to remote and hybrid work models. This means leaders have had to completely re-think their traditional approaches to physical office space—all while performing a delicate balancing act to preserve both employee safety and business continuity.
Now, with the past two years serving as a litmus test, many companies are seeking to solidify their new strategies and make them more permanent.
In fact, a recent study by Verdantix revealed that 58% of organizations consider increasing hybrid working to be a high priority. This means that the physical office will continue to evolve in 2022 as more companies gain confidence their ability to sustain remote and hybrid models.
Creating the Office of the Future
All of this raises an important question: What exactly should the new office look like?
While the answer will vary based on each individual company’s needs, I believe that the most successful organizations will transform their offices into dynamic, collaborative, and employee-focused spaces.
They will repurpose their existing properties into places that people can utilize, versus the old model of places that people are required to be at. Employees at these organizations will have greater control over their usage of the space—including how and when they use it.
Of course, achieving this vision will require deep cross-departmental collaboration between real estate, space management, facilities, and HR leaders within the business. But the effort will almost certainly be worth it. A successful transition to a new workplace model could lead to happier employees, significant cost savings, and greater peace of mind across the board.
That’s why now is the time for executives to seriously consider investing in technology solutions that can facilitate the transition to a hybrid office and sustain its operations for the long-term. The deployment of an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) can make all the difference when it comes to bringing the vision of a new office to life.
Let’s take a look at why this kind of solution is so important for the hybrid work model.
IWMS Technology: The Support System of the New Workplace
An IWMS brings all the people, locations, and assets of a business together on one platform. It enables cross-departmental data-sharing and functions as a single source of truth for every department across an organization.
By using an IWMS, a business gains access to a host of collaborative capabilities that would otherwise be incredibly challenging or impossible. For example, instead of HR having to manually update their records every time a desk is re-assigned, they can simply access their IWMS to see a real-time floor plan that has been automatically updated to reflect changes made by space managers.
An IWMS may also include specific tools and functions that are particularly useful for space and real estate leaders in a hybrid work environment. These include:
- Comprehensive space planning: IWMS solutions can allow for an easy and intuitive space planning experience. Ideally this should include the ability to upload and edit floorplans, a simple drag-and-drop move functionality, and the option to group people together by department or job type. Space planning features like these are becoming increasingly useful as the office environment becomes more fluid.
- Space reservations: A key part of creating an exceptional employee experience within a hybrid work model is enabling more flexibility and autonomy, which is exactly what a space reservation tool does. It allows employees to access the IWMS via a mobile device or desktop, view available desks or conference rooms on a visual floor map, and quickly reserve the space for themselves and/or their colleagues. This data can also be linked to a company’s facilities work order system so cleaning and sanitization protocols are automatically initiated before and after a space is used.
- Floorplans and wayfinding: When the workplace changes, employees will need a way to navigate it. An IWMS can contain floorplans that update in real-time, allowing employees to see the exact location of all people and workspaces in the building. Similar to space reservations, this feature can be accessed via desktop or mobile, so employees can find their way around even while on the move. This can also support health and safety initiatives since personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and hand sanitizer can be listed on the map for improved accessibility.
- Utilization data: In a hybrid workplace, it can be tough to know what’s happening in every physical office space. Knowing who’s using the space, when they’re using it, and how often they’re using it often turns into a guessing game. But by using space reservation data—or even badge swipe data—an IWMS can capture and organize all of this information within a single system. The numbers can then be visualized in easy-to-read dashboards and exported into simple charts and graphs. For organizations using spreadsheets and disparate systems to track their space and real estate metrics, this kind of data consolidation is game-changing. Instead of tracking down multiple documents or making guesses about their utilization rates, space and real estate leaders using an IWMS can see exactly how all their space is being used. This can help them identify opportunities to rationalize their real estate portfolios and realize significant cost savings.
With these tools and their benefits in mind, it’s apparent how IWMS technology can help shape and optimize the hybrid workplace. The shift to a hybrid model creates a significant need for more connectivity, better data sharing, and improved employee autonomy, and a comprehensive workplace management solution can deliver on all these needs.
Keeping An Eye Toward the Future
There has never been a more important time for leaders to examine the structure of their workplaces. And it’s crucial during this process that they prioritize the safety and satisfaction of their employees. This will bolster workplace culture and help ensure they can retain a competitive advantage in the talent market, even in the midst of the transition to a new style of work.
That is why I strongly urge space and real estate executives to consider deploying an IWMS solution within their business. They’ll be better equipped to facilitate the transition to a more collaborative, dynamic, and efficient workplace. And in the process, they’ll deliver an enhanced employee experience while recognizing more cost savings across the organization.
Written by Ben Person.
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