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What is Workplace Management?

By Noam Livnat
Chief Product & Innovation Officer
SpaceIQ

SpaceIQ is an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) and computer-aided facility management (CAFM) program and in order to understand the full scope of what the program can do, it helps to get a better view of what is included under the workplace management umbrella. Just like a work-life balance, it explores the concepts surrounding workplace management and managers in order to gain a thorough understanding of the ways in which a comprehensive strategy involving SpaceIQ can make your organization run more efficiently. SpaceIQ can help you by reducing office politics, utilizing the available workspace, improving workplace stress management, and ensuring a highly productive workplace. This efficiency can expand into areas that are perhaps unexpected, providing a multi-faceted return on investment and a better office environment to support your talented team.

Basic Definition and Scope

Let’s start with the basic definition from our glossary, then go further in depth:

Workplace Management falls under the facility management (FM) umbrella, but it is its own entity with special considerations and processes. As part of FM, workplace management zeros in on efficiency and productivity in the office and its scope of work can extend beyond mere space allocation and focus instead on everything from health and safety protocol to the financial analysis of workplace utilization. Logistics such as security, custodial services, optimal space utilization, and new employee workstation assignments can fall under the purview of workplace management.

So, what does this mean? Essentially, workplace management is the oversight and optimization of the physical environment in an office, whether you are a manager or an employee on his/her  first day. While business management has to do with the actual work that takes place in the office, workplace management has to do with the venue in which that work takes place. Depending on what physical assets comprise an organization’s workplace environment, this could mean everything from the creation of a robustly secure visitor check-in system to the active tracking and analysis of available desk space. It even comprises simpler things like ensuring that employees can collaborate without wasting too much time figuring out where to go.

Workplace Management at Scale

It may seem as if many of these tasks are suitable only for a large organization, but startups and small firms ignore workplace management at their own peril. The truth is that every work environment needs some sort of management and oversight to function properly. Even a solo practitioner working remotely needs to consider the ideal location for his/her desk and consider whether the space in a designated home office is laid out in a maximally efficient way. Three-person teams that share a temporary office space will need to put workplace management practices in place early to ensure any rapid personnel expansion runs smoothly and doesn’t bring the entire business to a screeching halt.

On a larger scale, of course, things do get more complicated. With multiple floors to oversee and even outdoor space to manage, workplace management within a sizeable organization becomes crucial. Poor management in these situations can lead to disgruntled employees and unnecessary financial burdens resulting from poor space utilization ratios and other subtle mistakes.

Workplace management also doesn’t have to be a discrete, insular prospect for a business. Multiple startups sharing the same office space will need to implement fair and equitable workplace management policies to ensure a harmonious tenure in the office. SpaceIQ can be particularly effective for allowing each company in a shared space to implement their own policies while the office space as a whole can use our Space Planning tools to divide up space and manage the use of shared areas. Individual companies in the shared space can also use SpaceIQ’s Real Estate Forecasting tools to determine when they are potentially reaching full occupancy, and need to consider larger office space. Move Management tools in SpaceIQ can then make it easy to move the growing business into a new facility that suits an ever-expanding scale.

Common Workplace Management Considerations

So now that you have an idea of the generalities of workplace management, it’s time to look more at the nitty-gritty, day-to-day specifics that take workplace management from theory to reality. You may already be doing most, if not all, of these things without even realizing that you’re carrying out workplace management tasks. Whether you’ve already taken on these tasks or you’re just starting to integrate them into your approach, seeing them in the broader context of workplace management can help an organization determine how much emphasis to place on each element.

Furniture and Equipment Layouts

Space management is another sub-discipline of FM, but it can be considered an element of workplace management as well. Essentially, space management is more focused than workplace management; it deals with the optimization of the physical space available to you in your office environment. Are you maximizing your square footage? Is that maximization going too far and leading to a cramped, uncomfortable workplace? It’s often beneficial to stay agile in your approach to space management, especially as the business expands and brings in new employees and new departments or teams. But an organization’s ability to manipulate their space utilization often depends heavily on the type of building they occupy. Old-school office buildings are often built with highly segmented floor plans that make alterations without actual construction quite difficult. If you’re stuck in a segmented office space and you don’t feel your teams can collaborate well, you might want to consider moving into a more modern office space with an open floor plan. Regardless of what kind of space you’re in, taking a look at how your various physical assets (desks, lounge areas, reception, break rooms, server rooms, supply storage, etc.) come together to make the space can be an essential element of effective workplace management.

Seat Assignments

Now we are getting even more granular with space management. Seat assignments—the actual designation of where each member of an organization should sit to do his or her work—is another important component of workplace management. This can actually relate strongly not only to general employee satisfaction but also to collaborative capabilities. It may seem sensible to seat designers in one space and marketers in another, but depending on the specific projects they’re working on at the moment, part of your design team may want to sit close to members of the marketing team. Still, others may want to be near the copy team to work on the physical presentation of copy. This may need to change on a regular basis depending on what each individual is focusing on at the moment. Not only can SpaceIQ handle seat assignments, but SpaceIQ allows you to delegate seating to department heads so seating preferences can reside with employee managers rather than on facilities.

Future Planning and Move Management

Are you going to stay in your current office space forever? Probably not. What are your goals for the physical future of your office environment? That sort of future planning is an important component of workplace management as well. As with clothing, the ideal time to get something new is before your old office gets worn-out and dingy or becomes so improperly sized that it’s uncomfortable. When it’s time to pack up and go somewhere else, the process of managing that move – including taking inventory, setting a timeline, designing the new space and assigning seats- is an element of workplace management. Future planning and move management is already a stressful process, SpaceIQ eases that burden with seamless planning and move management features.

How Better Workplace Management Can Improve Your Organization

In the modern context, “better” workplace management means not only implementing smarter policies but also using the right IWMS and CAFM program. This is technology that every workplace should use to streamline logistics and make everyone’s work life run more smoothly. SpaceIQ has a variety of different tools to bring best practices for workplace management to all levels of an organization. Our tools and features allow all employee levels in a robust workplace management system to participate, which helps spread the positive impact around for everyone to enjoy.

Employee Satisfaction

In general, a well-managed workplace is likely to be more satisfying and relaxing. Imagine having to go to an office every day that’s physically uncomfortable and procedurally hampered by outdated tools and ineffective policies. Effective IWMS and CAFM tools play a big part in seeing to the smooth logistical operation of an office environment and as a result, workers feel more comfortable and more engaged in the office. People like technology that work to their advantage—and SpaceIQ’s collaboration and visibility tools certainly fit the bill. Employees can locate each other on our platform and use integrated tools such as Slack to streamline collaboration both virtually and physically.

Don’t discount the value of employee satisfaction. Business leaders of the old school dismissed employee satisfaction as a wasteful concern, but while the work does get done in a less-than-ideal office environment, it doesn’t get done with the passion and drive it takes to remain competitive in our innovative environment. There’s a reason that some of the most successful modern companies make headlines not only for their stock valuation and innovative new products but also for the unconventional approach they take to hosting their team members in the office. The notion that employee comfort leads to better work is backed not only by casual observation but also by hard science.

Plus, as younger generations of digital-native workers come on board in the workplace, comfortable settings and properly functioning technology are going to be a deal-breaking expectation. It’s already begun; the Dell/Intel Future Workforce Study showed that 42% of Millennials would leave a job that didn’t provide the right technology. SpaceIQ’s ability to address both the physical and digital realities of life in the office helps organizations take a robust approach to ensuring employee satisfaction, especially for tech savvy young talent.

Ease and Automation

From pulling real estate analysis reports to doing away with burdensome poly lining requirements during space planning activities, automation saves time and makes the prospect of engaging with workplace management tasks much less dreadful. When all it takes is a few mouse clicks, the task workplace management at hand gets done more quickly and with less headache. Plus, SpaceIQ’s automated features can further cut down on the time spent planning or carrying out workplace management tasks and policies. Let the system go to work for you and become a major partner in your workplace management approach. Your team has better things to do with their time and now they can actually see to those more important tasks rather than wrangling with an outdated program.

Real Estate Overhead

Real estate expenditures are among the most significant expenses for businesses in the United States and that means that any savings in this arena can be dramatically beneficial. A good workplace management program will generate space utilization reports and help management decide whether a planned office move into a more expensive space is really necessary or whether the existing 5,000 sq. ft. office space is sufficient given the volume of unused space and empty desks currently in play. You may even be able to combine SpaceIQ’s real estate forecasting software and Space Planning tools to figure out a new floor plan layout that allows for the consolidation of your current work area. It may then be possible to ease your real estate expenditure burden by subletting or leasing out available desks in your office to freelancers or a small startup that only need a small work space and/or don’t want to pay for their own premises just yet.

Strategic Cohesion Between Business and Workplace Management

Hoping to expand your operation and bring in 100 new employees in the next year? You better have the workplace management capabilities to ensure that process runs as smoothly as possible from the most basic logistical standpoint. Highly desirable, competitive talent isn’t likely to feel very positive about an interview in an office that’s incredibly cramped and uncomfortable, and employees whose first day consists of a confusing and frustrating onboarding process aren’t likely to feel very good about their new job. Smart workplace management can enhance business strategy by providing the necessary physical foundation for growth and productivity.

This is all just a taste of what SpaceIQ can do for you. Workplace management is a major area of concern, but it’s not the only element of a streamlined and ultra-efficient office space. Get in touch with us today to find out how our effective platform can take your entire office to new levels of order, productivity, and all-around awesomeness.

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4 Step Office Seating Plan Guide to Maximize Productivity

By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
SpaceIQ

Employee engagement and satisfaction are essential. Your organization simply won’t operate smoothly and efficiently if the people who make it run aren’t concerned with or committed to your mission. There are several ways to keep your team engaged and satisfied, but the physical work environment in the office may be the most important aspect. This means comfortable temperatures, appealing office space (like an open-plan office), and a seat arrangement that helps everyone be at their best are all part of a good office layout. Make the most of your office furniture and the environment by following these four steps to make your team feel comfortable and facilitate maximum productivity:

1. Move into the 21st Century

First things first: you’ve got to have an office environment that satisfies the modern workforce. Cubicles and anonymous rows of desks are out. Open floor plans are in and for good reason. For one, people tend to prefer the look of an open floor plan with tables and benches rather than a warren of discrete cells that look crowded and impersonal. Modern offices with open plans are brighter, more welcoming, and less institutional feel. Choose appealing materials like warm wood or sleekly designed industrial metal along with effective lighting and, whenever possible, large windows with plenty of sunlight.

Another reason open floor plans are a good idea? They allow for easier collaboration. If a cubicle wall separates you and your teammates, it’s harder to simply look up and ask a quick question. It’s harder to quickly check in and get back to work. The same goes for desks that are all pointed in one direction. Shared tables with individual workstations make collaboration super simple and that tends to support modern work styles much more effectively. Teams can cluster around one another and put their heads together at their desks for quick consultations or get up and move into a conference room for all-day collaboration sessions.

But, open floor plans do have some drawbacks. This ability to constantly check in with team members can be good, especially for lower-level employees who need frequent guidance or approval. But higher-level employees often find themselves being interrupted by these check-ins when they just want to focus intently on the task in front of them. As a result, many companies are beginning to balance their open office concepts with hybridized plans that include private offices or soundproof rooms with space for just one person to sit and work. Remote work opportunities can also be part of this flexibility.

Ultimately, team member satisfaction and overall workplace efficiency should be the focus of an office seating plan overhaul at the highest levels. Balancing individual needs with collaborative needs sets up an ideal foundation for a highly functional and comfortable work environment.

2. Weigh in on Assigned Seating

To assign or not to assign? It’s a bit of a tough question in a modern workplace. The trend over the past few years has been toward more flexible arrangements, but some companies are starting to game their seat assignments in an effort to boost productivity. As you may be able to tell, it isn’t exactly easy to assign seats in an open, flexible workspace. Communal workspaces and remote work opportunities mean that an employee may not always be at his or her desk, even when assigned. As a result, many open office seating plans simply allow employees to choose a desk for the day based on what’s available.

However, a complete laissez-faire approach to assigned seating isn’t always the most effective option. At the most basic level, it’s not always comfortable. Many people prefer the familiarity of a personal desk where they can leave personal effects like a water bottle or decorative trinket without worrying about it being gone the next day. Beyond that, though, complete seating anarchy can waste valuable minutes and make team members feel unnecessary frustration. It’s just not ideal for productivity.

On the other side of that coin, keeping the seating arrangement too rigid can be a mistake as well. Research discussed in the Wall Street Journal indicates that productivity can increase when assigned seating charts are in place but refresh on a regular basis. This is especially true in large workplaces that may have multiple floors. Workers tend to interact only with those who immediately surround them, so if you need to facilitate cross-team collaboration, your seating chart may help.

3. Let Similar Team Members Sit Near Each Other

Another way to game the seating plan is to let performance reviews guide you. Research shows that highly productive employees tend to have a “spillover” effect on those around them. So, if you have a table of employees who get a little too chatty and another table of ultra-focused productivity machines, mixing the two can actually have a positive effect. Seat an average-performing employee next to a much more productive teammate and you could see that average performance improve.

There is a flip side to the spillover effect—“toxic” employees can wreak havoc when they sit in close proximity. Gossipers, mischief makers, and pranksters tend to feed off of each other when they’re close by. So, breaking up these toxic hives can also have a positive impact on the environment and, by extension, the productivity of your office.

The good news is that the spillover effect doesn’t tend to cut both ways. That is, a highly effective employee isn’t likely to become less effective when sat with average performers. You may not have previously thought to include performance rules in your seating plan strategy, but it’s not a bad idea.

4. Keep the Office Flexible

Ultimately, each of the above steps boils down to one thing: flexibility is key. You may want to rearrange a seating chart based on upcoming product launches and other short-term concerns or it may be necessary to see whether an underperforming employee can do better when he sits next to a different neighbor. A fully open seating plan may not work for your office, but closed-off cubicles also might not be the right answer.

There’s been some bouncing back and forth in recent years as tech-focused companies and millennial CEOs strive to find the best way to accomplish their goals rather than trying to adhere to some sort of pervasive corporate cultural norm. Getting caught up in the stampede between the extremes of a fully open office and 1990’s style cubicle farms can be costly for companies and confusing for facilities managers and other professionals concerned with space planning. Trends in this area aren’t always based on complete or reliable research, either, so it’s important for facility management professionals to view space management trends with a critical eye.

Luckily, there’s a middle space that makes it possible to balance these priorities. Configurable office furniture and other modern workplace solutions, like movable walls and soundproof cubby rooms, facilitate flexibility and allow for an adaptable approach to seating. The key is to avoid locking yourself into a plan that may not actually end up working. If you can stay agile, you can get ahead of any potential issues and find the most productive arrangement possible.

Putting Your Plan into Practice

There are a lot of nuances involved with the creation of an ideal seating plan. Everything from the industry you’re into the specific job tasks an individual team member completes and even the unique personalities of each employee can have an impact on the “ideal” seating arrangement for your needs. Versatility and flexibility are important, but they can’t be the only goal. Some degree of stability and reliability will be helpful for allowing employees to feel grounded and to settle into a work environment that really brings out their best.

Balancing these priorities may seem tough, but with the right technology on your side, the process is simple and easy. SpaceIQ allows for space planning in an easy virtual environment while also making it easy to support and inform employees on the floor in real time.

Offices that toe the line between open and private make it possible for workers to move around the space. Those with open floor plans may see a manager or other leader in a different spot every day. Conference rooms, private work rooms, break rooms, and other spaces all help boost productivity and employee comfort, but it’s just one more space to manage. With SpaceIQ, you can integrate all of these spaces into a visual interface that allows team members to find each other, even in a spacious workplace with multiple different venues.

Wasting time tracking down the people you need to talk to isn’t fun and it’s also bad for productivity. Using outdated technology to reserve conference rooms and communicate seating charts can lead to confusion and frustration. No matter what kind of seating and space planning scenarios work best for your organization, SpaceIQ’s powerful platform cuts things down to the heart of the matter, reducing the time and effort it takes to manage your seating plan and let your employees get back to doing what they do best.