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Sports Facility Management Software Can Help Your Company

By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
SpaceIQ

Sports facility management software can save your company time, friction and money. Sports facilities and other athletic centers face unique challenges outside the usual scope of facilities management. Not only do these considerations pose logistical challenges for managers, they also demand a higher level of foresight and adaptability when it comes to avoiding planning issues. Some form of computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) is needed.

The key is to provide the right tools for sports facilities managers to execute operations quickly and efficiently. In turn, their oversight will deliver a higher caliber of enjoyment to patrons and a better revenue stream to owners.

Identifying challenges

Unlike a traditional office space or commercial retail environment, sports facilities feature larger areas with more diverse utilization capabilities. While this invites more potential for space usage, it also compounds logistical hurdles for facilities managers. Some of the most common hurdles unique to sport facilities management, as well as core to sports facilities management software, include:

  • Diverse client base: In an office space, the nature of an occupying business may not matter since all businesses need the same fundamental amenities. At a sports complex, each occupant has specific needs. Basketball players need a basketball court—they can’t play on a soccer field. Pairing the right activity to the right space adds an extra layer of logistics for managers, which greatly reduces flexibility in repurposing unused space.
  • Space diversity: Sports facilities can contain dozens of different spaces, each more unique than the next. A tennis court varies drastically from a natatorium, which is entirely different from a weight room, and so on. For as many different types of sports as your facility offers, you’ll have to manage as many different types of spaces. This is a much more significant undertaking than simply overseeing a traditional office.
  • Facility demands: Each unique playing surface in a sports complex also demands individualized attention. Tending to the equipment within each space and ensuring each area of the complex gets the right upkeep can feel like managing a dozen different facilities, rather than a dozen different spaces inside of a single facility. Facilities managers need a way to differentiate the demands of each space, while still overseeing the complex as a whole.
  • Seasonality: Anticipating space utilization is hard because sports are largely seasonal. Depending on the time of year, your facilities may be jam-packed every day versus desolate at other points during the year. Though somewhat predictable, this ebb and flow adds complexity to a facility manager’s job above and beyond simply understanding the day-to-day occupancy trends of each space.
  • Multipurpose activities: A sports complex is so much more than just a place for sports. Sports facilities play host to a variety of other activities, from high school graduations to concerts and other events. Managing each new use of space presents another unique set of challenges, including coordinating occupancy, understanding facilities costs, and overseeing the setup and takedown of each event.

These challenges are ubiquitous among sports facilities and event centers, and facilities managers must remain cognizant of them at all times. The ability to master unique space-related challenges can significantly impact facility operations, including maximizing revenue and individual space utilization.

Leveraging CAFM technology

Diverse challenges require robust management tools. CAFM technologies offer a comprehensive system of oversight that addresses both the space-specific needs of a sports complex along with the overall management of facilities. Take a look at some of the solutions SpaceIQ’s CAFM platform brings to sports facility managers:

  • Agile space planning: For multipurpose areas of a sports complex, CAFM software enables floor plan design and situation planning for both recurring and one-off uses. Planning for a high school graduation or a charity fundraiser is made easy, despite being outside the normal use of the space. With a well-designed workplace and execution strategy in-hand, individual space management is seamless and simple.
  • Detailed reporting: Having space-specific data about each area of your facility—both siloed and in aggregate—yields important insight into overall utilization. Knowing which areas see more traffic and which are less in-demand can help you formulate a plan to optimize space planning over the long-term. It’s also the best way to see where your revenue is coming from versus where your major cost centers are.
  • Booking and scheduling: Busy seasons require comprehensive booking and reservation capabilities for maximizing each space of your sports complex. Managers can delineate times for competitive league play, recreational matches, open gym slots, private tryouts, and more—catering to specific groups of customers in turn. Best of all, through CAFM software, managers can book daily, weekly, or monthly facilities usage with built-in flexibility thanks to a top-down space management approach.
  • Member location: For high-end sports facilities—such as private clubs or university complexes—membership unlocks an enhanced picture of facilities usage. Use member data from check-ins to instantly find a member based on their activity. Not only does this give a real-time picture of occupancy, it can reveal long-term trends about your facilities such as peak hours, average number of visits per patron, and monthly revenue per visitor.
  • Sensor integration: Lighting, heating and cooling, and water usage in sports facilities dwarfs most other types of commercial properties. As a result, many sports complexes are turning to smart technologies to help them keep utilities costs in check. A CAFM platform integrates sensors and beacons to enhance cost savings—keeping lights off on a court until motion is detected or regulating the temperature of facilities after hours to mitigate HVAC costs. CAFM systems offer more than just control. They capture the data needed to inform facilities managers on the effectiveness of these initiatives.

Though the challenges of managing a sports complex are unique, they’re not impossible to anticipate and manage. They’re easily managed with the right tools and an engrained understanding of the actions required to address them.

Meeting problems with solutions

Finding an open basketball court for a Thursday night recreational league isn’t the same problem as scheduling maintenance for your natatorium. What these problems have in common, however, is the ability to be coordinated and managed effectively through CAFM software. This holds true for any of the diverse and unique challenges facing sports facility managers. Having the right tools means understanding the obstacles of managing unique spaces and addressing them directly, proactively.

Using a platform like SpaceIQ to manage your sports facilities is the simplest way to make a complex task more manageable. Instead of facing the unpredictability of these unique facilities, SpaceIQ helps managers efficiently optimize each individual space for a well-managed complex on a trajectory for success.

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Is An Open Office Space Good or Bad For Your Business?

By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
SpaceIQ

Open office spaces are a hotly debated topic in the realm of workplace modernization. Tearing down cubicle walls and moving people out of individual offices has become the fad many businesses credit for success. There’s an emphasis on community, collaboration, and inclusion. The idea is that by tearing down walls and bringing people together, a business will run more efficiently and cohesively.

But is an open workplace everything it’s cracked up to be? Is an open workplace an advantage or disadvantage? Communal work environments have seen as much backlash as praise, labeled as everything from inefficient and inconvenient, to awful and disastrous for workers. Opponents to open office design claim people need privacy and a degree of seclusion in order to do their best work.

If your business is contemplating open office productivity or the shift to a more community-oriented working environment, it’s easy to be confused. At SpaceIQ, we study workplaces extensively to better understand them—including open-office floor plans. Here’s everything you need to know about open office concept pros and cons, and when this workplace style may benefit your business versus hinder it.

What is open workspace?

To understand the pros and cons of an open office, we first need to understand: What is an open office layout?

An open office layout emphasizes a communal work environment, favoring shared workspaces rather than segregated offices. It’s an egalitarian concept that’s meant to foster better communication, culture, and trust. Open offices are usually comprised of desk clumps, workstations, or desk neighborhoods—all congregated in a central area to brings all business operations together.

Where did open office concepts come from?

Despite their significance in the modern office environment, open-concept floor plans actually have roots going back to the 1950s and earlier. The open office space was once the layout of choice for large groups of typists and technicians charged with performing repetitive tasks. Pioneers like industrialist Henry Ford and engineer Frank Taylor saw the open office floor plan as efficient, easy to manage, and socially democratic for workers.

As workforces became more specialized and segmented over time, the need for departments and offices became more pronounced. Walls started going up to separate different facets of business. And, by the early 1990s, business was siloed to make it easier to manage on a day-to-day basis.

But with the formation of more agile companies in the late 1990s and early 2000s, open floor plans started to make more of a comeback. Startups with small teams and less office space readopted the open-concept workplace, which allowed them to collaborate more efficiently. As these startups boomed, many established businesses began to copy them—starting with their workplace designs. Today, the open office is in full swing!

Why are open plan offices good?

Open plan offices have some inherent benefits that make them appealing right from the get-go. For starters, they offer modern appeal. Getting people out of offices and into a communal workplace—complete with supporting open-concept architecture—is distinctly modern. Having desk pods, workgroups, or hot desks scattered throughout a chief working area brings modern appeal to a workplace.

Stimulating communication

But beyond the aesthetic, open concept offices facilitate great communication amongst employees. This is perhaps the most important benefit of open floor plans. Anyone you may need to talk or collaborate with is just a short walk away. Employees can see one another, which often prompts them to think about working as a team or reminds them to engage their coworkers on matters that affect the company.

Communication itself is also easier. Rather than sending emails or instant messages, which can be distracting and interruptive, workers can have a much shorter conversation face-to-face. This level of interpersonal communication minimizes misunderstandings and creates bonds between workers, improving cohesion and building trust.

Leveling the playing field

Open offices have the added benefit of putting all workers on a level playing field, regardless of job type or position. Employees at the same level across departments—such as a junior graphic designer and a junior sales representative—occupy the same space. This shows that no single part of the company’s operations is any more important than the other. It subtly bolsters company culture through inclusion.

Sitting superiors with subordinates also creates an egalitarian feel. Open offices take managers out of their secluded areas and integrates them with the workers they oversee. Not only does this humanize superiors, it improves accountability, relatability, and trust. No longer are managers sitting in an ivory tower—they’re right there in the trenches with the troops.

Better using available space

In a more practical and cost-oriented sense, open concept offices offer a great opportunity to do more with less. As mentioned, startups with lesser means found success using open workplaces to their fullest. Instead of trying to fit a few secluded offices into a space, businesses can maximize occupancy of that space by tearing down walls.

Walls are confining and, as a result, they make people feel like they need more space. Consider this idea: A walled-in office that’s 150 sq/ft can be replaced with an open-concept desk pod taking up 125 sq/ft. Moreover, offices generally house single employees—managers, specialists, etc. However, open concept spaces of the same size may ideally house two or more employees.

These small concessions add up, eventually culminating in more available space for more employees. Add the cost of a lease on top of this and it’s evident that the cost-per-head of your workforce drops as well.

Exploring agile capabilities

Modern business environments are fast-moving and constantly buzzing. A modern workforce needs to be able to act and react just as fast. Open office floor plans are a great enabler of agility and can be hugely beneficial to companies that demand dexterity. Whether it’s mobilizing on a major project or coming together to collaborate quickly, open workplaces literally knock down barriers to action.

What’s bad about an open office?

Many of the variables that make open office spaces great are the same reasons companies avoid them. Specifically, eliminating private workspaces in favor of a more communal environment has drawn criticism from companies believing it stunts productivity and hinders meaningful communication. There are concerns that shifting too far away from individualism toward community leaves workers feeling lost in the mix and uninspired to do their best work.

Stifling productivity

The biggest criticism of open office spaces is the never-ending assortment of stimuli workers must contend with. It’s hard to concentrate when phones are ringing, people are talking, computers are whirring, and people are moving. The inability to close oneself off from these many stimuli can result in wandering attention, poor work quality and lack of motivation, among other problems.

The opposition to open office spaces claims that some level of seclusion is necessary for workers to focus in on their tasks and do a good job, interruption-free. This just isn’t possible in an open office where every sense is being stimulated at all times.

Privacy concerns

Workers need some degree of privacy to feel welcome and at home in the workplace. Unfortunately, open offices eliminate a majority of privacy in favor of improving interpersonal communication. Employees can’t have a private conversation at their desk or answer a sensitive email without others walking by. This lack of privacy leads many workers to feel like they’re always exposed and under a microscope, and that creates tension and anxiety.

There’s also the problem of spatial ownership in an open office. Workers may feel like their privacy is being impeded simply because of proximity to others. Having to share a desk can feel intrusive or trying to converse with someone in the presence of uninvolved co-workers can be awkward.

The spread of illness

Workplaces are already responsible for widespread illness during peak cold and flu seasons. Grouping everyone together in one open space may intensify the rate at which germs and illnesses sweep through an office. A simple sneeze or an exchange of office supplies in a communal area can be all it takes to introduce an illness to the majority of your workforce in one fell swoop.

Dissenters and introverts

Personality plays a pivotal role in how a person functions within their workplace. For personality types that aren’t compatible with large groups, forcing them into a communal workspace can be toxic for your workforce in general.

Dissenters, for example, may freely voice their displeasure about projects or expectations, without regard for other workers’ feelings. This can cause rifts between employees who may see this as boisterous or brash. With no individual offices or workspaces to retreat to, the majority of workers are left put-off by a select few they can’t escape in an open environment.

Introverts also falter in open concept offices because they prefer seclusion to community. For these individuals, social burnout is real—whether in the form of lethargy, anxiety, or frustration. With no place to call their own, their work may suffer and their role within your workplace culture could slide into decline.

Is an open office right for your business?

As with most aspects of workplace customization, deciding on an open office floor plan comes down to the unique nature of your business. Is it a small business that needs to be agile and comprised of social employees who enjoy collaboration? Or, are you a larger, more diverse company with concerns about individual worker productivity and the ability to afford a larger office space?

Chance are, your business will see both pros and cons in an open office floor plan. It’s important to take stock of both to make a decision that ultimately benefits your workforce over the long-term. Take stock of current facility challenges or obstacles, as well as the traits, needs, and wants of your workforce. As you understand the pros and cons of an open office space, the advantage or disadvantage of transitioning to one will become clear.

Looking for hard data to guide your decision about an open office? Use SpaceIQ’s robust platform to gain insights and understanding about your current floor plan, cost-per-head, operational efficiency, and more. Request a demo today.

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Real Estate Analytics Cut Costs & Lift Workplace Production

By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
SpaceIQ

When a business looks to cut costs, executives study profit and loss statements and budgets to see which line items to reduce or slash entirely. Real estate has routinely been left out of this process because it was looked at as a fixed cost—typically a five- to 10-year commitment. Now, businesses are employing real estate forecasting and analytics to determine how well their workplaces perform—and how their staff’s productivity fares in the current space.

You can attack line-item costs all day long and make a lot of minor improvements. But the real opportunity is reducing the overall footprint by improving total cost per person—your workspace effectiveness. How? Measure internally, benchmark against high-performing peers/competitors, predict trends, and base your strategies on the analytics.

Not Everyone Needs a Seat at the Table

In the past, businesses regularly reviewed cost per seat rather than cost per person. That’s changing. A 2016 study showed that 43% of employed Americans worked remotely at least part of the time—and that number is increasing. Employers don’t need a permanent desk for every member of their team.

It’s easy to see how frequently each desk is used. Some companies use location tracking via an employees-only app or sensors to know who’s working in the office on any given day. Using an app or sensor will also tell you the length of time an employee spends in the office. A quick note: this is not Big Brother at work. Though work time can be tracked, systems are better used to gauge occupancy rate in both the short- and long-terms. Data can show under- and overutilization of office space, and whether it’s time for a move or redesign. Knowing cost per person, per space when your lease expires can show whether to re-sign or find a new location.

Multifunctional Spaces = More Productive Spaces

No two employees work the same way and no two projects require the same type of energy or creativity. Understanding how your employees work helps increase understanding of your space needs. In companies where teams are regularly collaborating on bigger projects, swapping some individual desk space for meeting rooms with whiteboards and projectors may be better use of the space. Similarly, in more creative fields, your team may find it enjoyable to work in a lounge-type space with couches.

It’s Too Cold In Here

Ever sat in an office that required a parka in August? Climate control and electricity are keys to cutting real estate costs. Sensors offer a hands-off approach on how heating, cooling, and electric bills can be better managed. Sensor technology tracks age of HVAC components and their overall efficiency. Information also can help determine if lighting timers are a good investment.

Collect Data the Right Way

Integral to the success of this analysis of the data points mentioned above is how you’re collecting it. Using sensors, apps, and timers might require a larger monetary outlay, but these options also free up time for managers and executives to do more work. Spreadsheets and manual tracking were the norm, but technology now can do the work for you. Consider it a boost to your productivity.

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What Is Activity Based Working (ABW)?

By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
SpaceIQ

An activity-based working (ABW) or activity-based workspace is the middle ground between cubicle life and communal desks. Spaces are designed around different tasks that require different types of energy and inputs. The goal is increased productivity by giving workers a variety of options of where to work. While every office using this plan differs, there are generally more traditional desk setups, conference rooms for group meetings, phone booths for private calls, couches and lounge areas for creative collaboration, and social areas such as a kitchen or dining area.

Activity-based working is a trend making a lot of noise in the business world. But it’s hardly a new concept. The term was coined more than two decades ago by Erik Veldhoen, a Dutch consultant and author of the book “The Demise of the Office.” In it, he describes his ideal office as adaptive to diverse sets of tasks of needs. Veldhoen wrote this in 1995 when offices were divided by temporary walls and alcoves, hiding employees in plain sight.

Suggesting the need for an adaptive space was ahead of the time, as most office workers were still stuck in cubicles. In the mid-2000s, the dividing lines of the previous decade began disappearing. Employers moved to long rows of tables for communal working. They oscillated from one extreme to the next. It wasn’t an adaptation, just a 180.

Now, business owners and operators are seeing the flaws in both individual office spaces and bare-bones open plans. At the same time, employees are vocalizing their need for different kinds of space in one. There’s been a shift in how labor is divided in the workplace, with job descriptions blurring lines across departments. Employees in traditional office jobs aren’t paper-pushers bound to a single set of tasks. Human resource departments work on marketing projects. Accounting teams dip into purchasing and operations. Businesses are requiring employees to be flexible and dynamic, so it’s time their workspaces did the same.

Chief among the complaints of open-office plans were constant distractions. Telling employees to use noise-cancelling headphones so they can focus while colleagues talk around them is ridiculous. In an ABW, group projects can be worked on in project on conference rooms, or an employee who needs a few hours of quiet time can reserve a phone room to work without interruption. According to Steelcase, workers who are most engaged are those who believe they have control over their work experience. By giving employees options for completing their work, they’re empowered to use the different spaces and tools to be the most successful.

While open offices can be distracting, cubicles are too isolating for some employees. As the workforce decreases in age, the desire for social contact at work is increasing. Millennials and Gen-Z workers thrive on collaboration; when the walls literally come down at work, younger employees look to each other as sounding boards for complicated projects. Group work is rising as businesses hire employees whose skills transcend a single department. Designing a space where colleagues can physically come together to work is the recipe for productivity.

Adopting an ABW doesn’t mean employees lose the option to sit at a desk to work. The key is option. The old adage “chained to my desk” enforces the idea that a fixed workspace is a punishment. Instead, an ABW shows employees they’re trustworthy enough to work from whatever space suits their work style and needs. Most people are more productive when given the carrot—an ABW—than the stick.

If you don’t believe us, ask your employees.

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The Cubicle vs The Open Office – Which Is Better?

By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
SpaceIQ

Sometimes I find myself pining for a cubicle to call my own. Three walls that are just mine, where I can decorate with family photos, make my sport affiliations known, and spend a few minutes zoning out without anyone checking up on me. Then it hits me: in cubicle life I’m separated from other human beings. Contact is made by peeking over carpeted walls.

It’s a good thing those walls have come down.

Cubicles vs open office? Open offices were seen as the antidote to isolated cubicles. But they aren’t perfect. According to Ethan Bernstein, a professor at Harvard Business School—or anyone who’s sat next to a particularly chatty colleague—open offices kill productivity because they’re loud and visually distracting. And they’re right. When improperly designed, an open office just might kill the spirit of your more introverted employees while the office gossip reigns supreme. That’s why business owners should consider flexible designs when outfitting the company office.

Cubicles and open plans speak to our prehistoric human needs. We’re naturally drawn to shelter that keeps us safe from the elements and predators…but not total isolation. We also like to see what the world has in store for us. Our brains react positively to landscapes, natural light, and other living beings. An office should be designed to fulfill both.

An open office is typically viewed as benching systems, where employees tuck in next to each other to work without escape. Outfitting an office in such a way is cost-effective; long desks take up less space, accommodate more people, and are much less expensive than cubicle systems. But an assembly of long desks is just as depressing as cubicles.

So when considering an open office plan, create a dynamic layout that fits every possible workplace scenario. The design, typically called an agile or activity-based workplace, caters to the cubicle evangelists as well as the social butterflies.

The reason subdivided offices lasted as long as they did is they absorbed and reduced sound, which in turn increased focus. In an activity-based space, workers who thrive in the quiet have the option to use a private room, typically meant for phone calls that require extra discretion. But another reason cubicle dwellers kept calm and carried on for decades was because you can go unnoticed in a cubicle, giving way to personal distractions or leisure while on the clock.

The open office removes the ability to slack off. Some say this is a pitfall of the open plan because employees are always being watched. But having eyes on you isn’t always a bad thing. There’s a motivating force in knowing that anyone can see what you’re doing, so an open office keeps people accountable and productive. Open-office naysayers argue that with all eyes on you, you’re less likely to interact with colleagues. While there may be some truth to that, removing physical barriers is meant to encourage collaboration and socializing.

In an activity-based office, group projects, and social encounters get their own space. Meeting rooms are often outfitted with whiteboards and large tables, birthing an atmosphere where creativity thrives. Lounge areas exist for quiet, thoughtful work while kitchens and coffee areas act as socialization spaces during breaks.

What Ethan Bernstein did get right in his article, “The Impact of an Open Workspace on Human Interaction,” is that the design gives human beings agency as to how they use an activity-based workplace. If that means burrowing oneself into a cubicle-like hole for a day of distraction-free work—or perhaps a little daydreaming—then so be it. Business owners should equip teams with tools and spaces to accomplish tasks. When tools no longer match employee needs, it’s much easier to make a change.