By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
Integrated workplace management software (IWMS) programs are supposed to make life easier for facility management professionals, but they aren’t always set up to deliver on this promise. That’s where SpaceIQ comes in. This next-generation office space management software is a powerful ally in the way facility managers organize and plan the physical assets, office space, and a floor plan in an office environment. To make the most of SpaceIQ, you’ll want to explore its capabilities from all angles. Use these office space management software tips and guidelines as part of your initial exploration of the platform to make the most of its various features.
Expand Your Idea of What an IWMS and Office Space Software Can Do
The right space management software program can do more than just help you plan and use your space more efficiently. It can also serve as a vital collaboration tool that provides an essential foundation for employee communications. SpaceIQ functions as a single sign-on (SSO) platform through which team members can access not only space management tools but also communication and collaboration tools. Integrate Slack into your SpaceIQ configuration so your team members can chat with each other about the info they see on their IWMS dashboards, future collaboration plans, projects, after-work happy hours and anything else that’s on their minds.
Work With Possibility, Not Reality
While SpaceIQ is an excellent tool for managing the current layout of your office and keeping track of all the people currently on your various teams, it can also help you think outside the box and get abstract with your space planning capabilities. Scenario planning is just the tip of the iceberg. The automated data analysis reports that our platform creates allows management to assess when to move into a larger facility or even whether a different type of workspace might better serve the group as a whole. You can shuffle different teams to different locations and see how it all shakes out without having to actually lift a single chair. Digitizing your office space management tasks (through office space management software) makes the realm of possibility much less abstract and you can use this to your advantage in configuring a highly effective office environment.
Go Cold Turkey on Old Space Management Techniques
Old habits die hard but, in this case, you’ll feel glad you left them where they belong: in the past. SpaceIQ has a range of cutting-edge features that will save you so much time and effort. Think about how much time you spent poly lining floor plans or making exhaustive and complex lists of all the various items that need to come with you in a move. That’s all in the past. No more spreadsheets, no more hand-drawn diagrams, no more lost pieces of paper containing vital information that isn’t backed up. Our IWMS platform is cloud-based and ultra powerful and implementation is a breeze.
Delegate Facility Management Minutiae
Facility management has been labor intensive for far too long. Move trivial tasks like seat assignments and move management notifications off your desk by either delegating through the IWMS or allowing SpaceIQ’s powerful collaboration features to take charge. When it comes to seat assignments, you can appoint space captains within SpaceIQ or simply let team leaders take over seat assignments. This power can also go into the hands of the employees themselves so they can find the best possible seating arrangements for their work style and to-do list.
Facilitate an Agile Environment
Most modern companies aren’t too concerned with the way things have always been done. The agile workplace philosophy is much more prominent than any corporate cultural tradition and that means that flexibility is key. This applies to the physical space in an office as well as the attitudes and approaches team members are willing to take to get the job done. The more flexible your environment, the better you can optimize to bring out the best in your workforce. SpaceIQ’s easy interface makes it possible for seating arrangements and space utilization to stay fluid based on the needs of individuals and the organization as a whole. Experiment with different seating charts and furniture configurations to find the setup that works best for your office and boosts productivity to new heights.
Make it Easier to Use All Available Space in the Office
Unused office space is a huge waste of money for businesses and other organizations. Sure, you need room to expand, but that doesn’t mean you should leave empty corners to gather dust. Use the analytics that SpaceIQ generates to find out how your space utilization numbers are looking, then use scenario planning tools to envision new floor plans or expanded collaboration spaces that turn the underutilized into the highly useful. Learn how how to make every space count with space management software.
Whether your office has a completely open floor plan with no assigned seats or a few shared spaces such as conference rooms or equipment storage, ambiguity can lead to confusion and a lack of confidence. There’s something about an empty conference room that can feel a bit off-limits, like the formal living room your parents never let you go into as a kid. Incorporating these spaces into your IWMS seating chart makes it much clearer that these spaces are for everyone and not just for manager meetings with important clients. Give your employees the freedom to move around and use all the available collaborative or closed-door solo workspaces available to them in your office. It’s just another way that proper space management can lead to higher productivity and less waste through the maintenance of unused square footage.
Use Your IWMS for New Employee Onboarding
New hires have a lot on their plate. They’ve got to hit the ground running and contribute to their new team. On top of that, there’s a whole lot of adjustment and an often unexpectedly steep learning curve when it comes to the ways of the new workplace. Adding new employee profiles to the IWMS can be part of the formal onboarding process with HR. Training these new workers in the use of the IWMS helps boost adoption through the office and also allows quick reference for where to find important people, plus a visual guide to where the bathroom is (that’s always an important piece of info on the first day). SpaceIQ can serve as an anchor to help new hires feel better supported and more informed as they acclimate to their surroundings. Seamless integration of new recruits is valuable both for the individual and for the team as a whole.
Make the process of reserving communal spaces more egalitarian by leaving room checkouts and desk reservations in the hands of a completely neutral software program. Sign-up sheets are a thing of the past. SpaceIQ’s cloud-connected visual display updates in real time and makes it clear when spaces are and aren’t occupied or reserved. This same approach can help smooth out potential conflicts in a 100% open seating plan. While this is effective in a traditional office, it’s also a great idea for co-working spaces or shared workspaces in which multiple independent organizations share the same facilities. No need to negotiate who gets to use what and when. Anyone in the office can just consult the IWMS and see if the desired space is free.
Look to the Future
SpaceIQ can help you plan for the future. Use features such as data automation and space utilization analytics to predict when a move to a larger office will become an absolute necessity. What seems like ample space today could end up feeling quite claustrophobic and hectic within a few years. If your main focus is driving growth and building out teams, you’ll want to keep tabs on the way you use your space as more and more new team members come aboard.
Facilitate Widespread Adoption in the Office
While some IWMS platforms are really designed mostly for facilities management professionals, modern tools in this category make themselves useful to the organization as a whole. That means it’s important to ensure that all of your various team members, from interns and assistants to managers and executives, are adopting the system and using it to the best of its abilities. If only half of your team uses the system as intended, no one you will get the full benefit, so you need to make adoption as painless and efficient as possible for your employees. Proper instruction plays a big part in adoption.
Tailor the Program to Your Unique Needs
These tips will make SpaceIQ work even better for you and everyone on your teams. While this general advice can be useful, it’s important to keep in mind that SpaceIQ is flexible enough to adapt to the needs of unique organizations. Some of these strategies may be more effective than others. Experiment and see what works best in your office. You may find that space management software has a much broader reach in day-to-day operations than you’d previously thought possible.
By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer & Co-Founder
We recently painted the wall of our office from white to blue and orange. While it started as a fun team activity, I was pleasantly surprised at the positive impact the new colors had on all of our employees.
When business operators are planning their company’s office, price are chief among their priorities. Keeping the fixed cost of real estate low helps companies project—and increase—their expected income. Price is not just a consideration when it comes to rent; assets such as office furniture are often purchased en masse and for purely utilitarian reasons. Sure, a business is saving money by designed a no-frills, utilitarian office, which some Feng Shui experts would agree with, but what they are ignoring is how space affects workplace productivity, motivation and enjoyment.
We don’t experience anything based on sight alone. Even in your offices all five of your senses, sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, are employed. How your senses react to a space can completely change how we operate, which is why facilities and operations managers must consider all five senses when designing—and maintaining—their company’s office space.
If you conduct a Google image search of “office design”, you will see a lot of white walls, hard plastic chairs, gray or brown flooring, and fluorescent lighting. Even start-ups boasting luxury workplaces often miss the mark, leaning too far into Scandinavian minimalism without regard to the feelings evoked by that feeling.
How does sight affect workplace productivity?
Let’s start with the simplest yet mostly ignored point: white is a terrible choice for an office. The highly reflective absence of color puts too much stress on your employees’ already computer-screen addled eyes. It is also void of personality, reminding you of sterile hospital walls rather than a creative, ideas-driven workplace.
Restaurants spend a great deal of time on color psychology because they want to create a space that encourages hearty appetites. An office should be no different. You want every color to invoke a feeling conducive to the type of work you’re producing.
Greens and blues are calming colors, which you may think will create a stress-free environment but they can also be too calming. These colors are best left for areas where employees are encouraged to decompress and shift their thinking; blue is shown to double brainstorming results, when compared to red.
They are also ideal for rooms where managers deliver tough feedback. Try to leave red out of the equation when you’re designing the human resources section of your office; the color is shown to increase respiration and heart rate, which can anger a person. However, accents of warmer colors that mimic sunlight can promote happiness and stimulation brain function. So that yellow desk lamp you’ve been eyeing is just the right amount of warmth a person’s desk needs.
Similar to color, the number of objects in a room can distract a person from the task at hand. Giving each workstation a place to organize and remove excess paper, pens, and product prototypes improves an employee’s ability to zero in on a project.
If you live in a city like New York, where sirens reverberate through the room long after they’ve passed, and you find yourself looking around the room for the source (the siren is likely not coming from the room you’re in, FYI), you know how distracting sound can be. Acoustics, as well as radio station played over the office-wide sound system can make or break your focus.
How does sound affect workplace productivity?
When you’re considering a new office, be wary of echoes, proximity to fire houses, and materials, such as metal, plastic, and bamboo, that amplify sound. Noise creates distractions, so when you consider that is takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task at hand, you’ll want to limit all noises within your control.
Many offices encourage the use of headphones, which can be a way to remain focused, but not all sounds are the same and some can do more harm to your productivity. Sound masking technology, on the other hand, is shown to improve employee focus by 47% and short-term memory by 10%.
But not all businesses can afford to gift every employee with noise-cancelling headphones or to soundproof their office as they would a recording studio. The alternative popular among some businesses is to employ music proven to increase focus. Among the top choices are ambient sound, nature music, epic music (think intense moments of an action movie), classical music, and video game music (seriously). All of these sounds focus your mind and move your forward rather than shifting your focus toward understanding the meaning behind song lyrics or listening to dialogue during a television show.
The importance of touch may be antithetical to both cost savings and design. You know those clear plastic chairs you’ve been eyeing? How does touch affect workplace productivity? Forget them. Just as plastics and metals amplify sound, they’re also cold, uninviting, and uncomfortable. Natural materials create comfort while still being functional, which is great news for the guy making reclaimed wood tables and shelves. The comfort these textures create has a calming effect, easing your team into their work and not distracting them by causing back pain.
When you think of touch, also consider temperature. Well-regulated temperature in an office is key. It’s not just about your heating and cooling costs here. A too-warm office may lull your team into a sleepy haze, while frigid temperatures that demand multiply layers of clothing put a person’s focus on their numb fingertips and not on completing a task.
Smell & Taste
Everyone’s favorite office perk is the snack drawer and free lunch, but how do snacks and catered lunches affect workplace productivity?
While a draw for many, especially those living on a budget, the options are usually sugar and carb heavy, which drain us of energy. An afternoon cookie may feel like just the right reward for a productive morning, but it’s pulling on your reserves making it difficult to get through the rest of the day. The same goes for catered lunches, which are usually easy, shareable options like sandwiches and pizzas. It’s recommended that you avoid carb-heavy meals during the day and stick to food low on the glycemic index because they actually give you energy.
Smell is a tough sense to incorporate into office design but it’s the most indirectly powerful. So much so that “scent marketing” companies are popping up all over the business operations industry. Scents proven to boost productivity and focus (cinnamon, mint, lemon, orange, and rosemary) can be incorporated using candles, oil diffusers, and humidifiers. It’s even recommended to rub peppermint oil on your temples when you feel like you’re ready to crash.
While cost of office space and furniture are crucial to the survival of a company, especially one that’s still growing, the ways an office affects your senses is a crucial consideration. Productivity, Motivation and enjoyment aren’t just about working more or working harder; it’s your focus on the task at hand, working efficiently and without distractions within your control and ultimately feeling a sense of accomplishment.
Here’s how to consider an office space as a service and turn your workplace from a cost center into a competitive advantage.
By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer & Co-Founder
When considering the benefits package your company offers, it’s likely you don’t include “full-service office with multi-functional rooms and employee tracking”. It’s not common for managers to consider an office space as a service benefit, no matter how hi-tech. Also, not as common today is giving your employees the tools to manage the space on their own.
These tools exist for HR benefits, where employees can manage their health savings accounts (HSA), commuter benefits, review progress reports from their managers, and submit time off requests; but workplace management software is often a delayed investment for companies, making it difficult and time-consuming to repair the broken wheel on a chair or locate a member of the marketing team in another building who can assist on a project. As the workplace becomes more agile and digitized, giving employees the most efficient tools to problem solve and focus on their work is critical.
Out with the old
Offices are cumbersome spaces rife with possibility–and problems. Lights burn out, computers crash, chairs break, and phones need to be programmed. Typically, there is an office or facilities manager who handles these issues but the way in which they’re addressed needs changing. Often, an employee will send an email or speak in-person to request something be repaired or replaced which is highly inefficient and unsatisfying. (seeing the burned out lights for days doesn’t inspire employees)
But emails get lost and in-person forgotten when they’re being delivered en-masse. As a result, your employees direct time away from their own work to troubleshoot these issues on their own or repeatedly request someone else address them. Similarly, when an employee needs to speak with another, they’ll reach for the phone and call their desk. But people are not chained to their desks, so sometimes we need to leave messages or take a quick walk around the floor to find that person. When you treat space as a service, you make it easier for your employees to do their jobs without the need to walk around the office.
Inefficiencies like these were also common in the way businesses administered benefits. In order to get the balance of one’s HSA, they needed to call an 800 number, to request time off or update commuter benefit enrollment, they needed to file a paper form, and to see how much paid time off was accrued, pay stubs needed to be located. None of this was centrally located or easy to process until companies realized these conveniences directly impacted employee satisfaction.
A Better Way
The evolution in the HR industry came when companies like Zenefits introduced a one-stop software for a business’s HR needs. The platform was created with both managers and employees in mind to manage employee benefits efficiently. Managers can input employee reviews, track the time of their hourly employees, send out messages on changes to benefits or reminders for open enrollment, and more. On the employee side, they can submit requests for time off, track and manage HSA contributions, review individual development plans, and more. The software can be accessed through a webpage and mobile app without needing to send emails or call administrators. Today, there are multiple software products like Expensify, that turn mundane HR or administrative chores into simple, and easy-to-use processes that employees consider a benefit.
In an article for the Harvard Business Review, “Workplaces That Move People,” the authors focus on both physical space and digital communications. They write “The buildings we go to everyday haven’t changed as much as have the tools we use to get work done. Merging digital communication patterns with physical space can increase the probability of interactions that lead to innovation and productivity.” Rather than treating an office as an edifice we inhabit, we need to integrate the physical space with how a modern workforce operates. We cannot ignore that space as a service is a crucial pain point that must be considered when designing or improving your office.
With that goal in mind, software companies are using the Zenefits model to create a service-oriented workplace that is managed through an app and online. We already see this at play with shared space companies like WeWork, Knotel, and others that manage office space for hundreds of smaller businesses and freelancers. For WeWork, it makes perfect sense to have a central location for members to submit a repair request or a directory for members to seek out one another to help on a project, fostering collaboration among relative strangers. Since they do not house a single business, but rather dozens in each location, this tool is essential to WeWork, but that does not preclude a traditional office space from adopting it.
Since the modern workforce almost exclusively works online and can now manage their health and other benefits online, they should also be able to use an app or website similar to the one used by WeWork to manage their workspace. An employee can use the app to file a work order or check the status of an existing one, use geolocation integrated with Slack to find and communicate with other team members, or reserve a conference room for a presentation, ensuring there will be no scheduling conflicts. This technology empowers employees to problem solve with an assurance their requests won’t get lost in a pile and, for managers, streamlines office services.
Technology has already transformed major aspects of our work. Like HR and benefits, It’s now time companies view their workplace as a strategic asset rather than a cost center.
By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
Neighborhood seating brings a strong advantage to the workplace. While supporting an agile workplace environment, it promotes collaboration and lowers costs to the organization itself.
Yet, change is not easy for everyone. When an employee has been notified she will no longer have her own desk, for example, reactions may vary. You need to be sure you’re planning for resistance, to make the transition as smooth and successful as possible.
We’ve gathered tips from experienced space planners in the industry to create a core set of best practices when it comes to moving employees into neighborhood-style configurations. Take these into account to reduce opposition, promote interest and foster the embrace of this new approach to workplace seating.
1. Notify in advance
Worse than change is sudden change. Often, workers’ natural instinct is to oppose a disruption to the norm outright, which can make your plans to convert to neighborhoods dead on arrival. Instead of springing it upon them, it’s best to give your employees time to absorb the news.
With a longer runway before adoption, employees reaction to a change may vary. It takes some longer than others to accept the fact they’re not going to have their own desk anymore, but given the right time horizon before the change, it’s easier to get even the biggest opposers on board.
So, when’s the right time to make the announcement and roll out the new seating changes? Experts say letting your workforce know roughly 2 months ahead of the transition is optimal.
2. Schedule Q&A sessions
Change begets questions. Without answers, you could end up fostering resentment within your workforce. The best way to quell fears of change is to be open and honest with your answers. For this, nothing beats a good ‘ol Q&A session.
Host a Q&A session (or multiple) from the time of the announcement up until right before the change. Encourage the team to come up with questions about the transition and be sure to explain in detail how the process will work. Let workers express their concerns and work out solutions together to address specific issues that might arise. The key here is to be thorough and honest in your answers, to set the right expectation for the shift.
3. Learn your employee needs
Before blindly disrupting your workplace, take the time to learn about your employees. What do they do during the day and what would help them accommodate these actions? Do they talk on the phone often and need a quiet place to do so? Scribble on whiteboards? Meet in relaxed shared spaces vs. meeting rooms? By identifying the unique work habits of each group, you can create suitable shared spaces and improve personal work abilities.
Make sure you communicate these types of considerations, too! It’s smart to let workers know the potential for improvement after a neighborhood transition. Take the time to explain activity-based workspaces to them and how these can be leveraged for better productivity and smarter accommodations.
Finally, be sure to understand the impact this transition will have on your business. The average business lease is ~5 years, which makes utilizing facilities to their fullest imperative. Look at the needs of your company and workers, and adapt space to fit those needs—whether it’s expanding your picking and packing space, creating multipurpose meeting rooms or even scaling down available space and the costs that come with it.
4. Be clear about the benefits
Once you’ve learned what your employees care about in their work environment, it’s easy for you to plan for a space that fits them better (learn more about space planning software). Be sure to communicate how they’ll now have access to more versatile, comfortable shared areas to inspire their creativity, foster collaboration and get to know their peers.
In communicating benefits, also be sure to contextualize how the change will benefit employees specifically and help them realize that they’ve been factored into this decision, rather than in spite of it. The bottom line should always be a callback to one simple premise: how the change benefits the needs of your employees personally.
5. Executive buy-in
Leadership has a strong influence on employee behavior. By having true executive support for the project—in which executives understand the importance of this change to the organization—employees will be more likely to collaborate.
Leadership can also shed light at a departmental level. No one quite knows the habits and needs of its employees like a departmental head. Getting these authority figures on board with the change and properly communicating the benefits to them will enable them to then pass the positives on to their subordinates. Coming from a colleague—even a superior—the details of a change of this magnitude may seem more valid.
6. Create a welcoming feeling
Understanding benefits isn’t always enough to help get workers on board with a drastic workplace change, like the shift to neighborhoods. To push appeal over the top, it’s a smart idea to invest in the physical presentation of the workspace itself. In other words: make sure the new workspace has a captivating design and that the ‘wow’ factor is high!
Think of it this way: this is your opportunity to show that the new arrangement brings added value to the employee that wasn’t there before. Tangible changes can drive interest and acceptance in a way theoretical value propositions can’t. When other employees want to move to a neighborhood because it’s new, cool and exciting, those who opposed the change may find themselves celebrating it!
7. Strengthen the feeling of belonging
Above all, employees want to feel like they’re welcome and valued in the space where they work. Announcing a major change that doesn’t involve them, yet affects them, may leave some feeling like they’re not welcome. It’s important to nip this in the bud by strengthening recognition of each individual’s inclusion. Some basic examples include:
- Add the employee name badges to the neighborhood to show her she is part of something big and let her see who also lives (works) in her neighborhood.
- Have a group activity to personalize the team space. Industry experts cite decoration contests as a fun team-building activity.
Reminding your employees that they’re valued and welcome is an important part in making sure this new desk layout sticks and fosters the same positive company culture you’ve worked hard to develop.
8. It’s all in the marketing
The delivery of an idea lays the groundwork for the expectations of what that idea becomes. If you get your workers excited about the prospect of a new neighborhood style seating arrangement, they’ll be more apt to accepting it when the change finally occurs. Marketing its benefits and setting the right expectations can put you in a position to quell the fears of employees who might be resistant to change.
Taking it a step further, make those involved in the change feel special as pioneers in the next generation of seating arrangements and the transition to a more collaborative work environment. If they’re excited about the change, others will be too as more changes follow.
Neighborhood Transition Checklist
- Notify employees ~2 weeks in advance
- Schedule Q&A sessions after announcement
- Learn employee needs for new workspaces
- Clearly communicate the benefits
- Get executives and departmental leaders on board
- Create a welcoming feeling after the change
- Strengthen the feeling of belonging
- Market the benefits of the change