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How to Design a Collaborative Office Space

By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
SpaceIQ

Collaboration is a fundamental ingredient for business success. But fostering a positive, free-flowing exchange of ideas requires the right workplace. Beyond general office space or multipurpose areas, office collaboration space must be designed with teamwork in mind.

Because collaboration is all about getting people involved, collaborative spaces need to embody this idea. Regardless of the problem or task they’re confronted with, employees should immediately feel empowered, inspired, supported, and enabled in a collaborative office space.

Designing a great collaborative space takes work. Below are some of the core thematic elements to keep in mind, whether you’re turning a designated area of your workplace into a cooperative environment or redefining your entire floor plan.

Keep it comfortable and accommodating

How many times have you had an epiphany while lounging on the couch at home? Have you ever wondered why your best ideas seem to come to you right before falling asleep? It’s because people have their best ideas when they’re comfortable. Try dreaming up something profound when you’re constantly readjusting in a chair that’s just not comfortable.

Design your collaborative office layout with comfort first. Cozy couches and ergonomic chairs put people at ease and allow them total focus on the discussion at hand. Want to go even further? Bean bag chairs and oversized pillows are making their mark in some of the top tech firms around the globe. Or, if you’re a company that emphasizes mobility, standing desks are convenient pieces of furniture.

Physical design is a cornerstone

It’s not just about having comfy furniture. There should be enough of it to accommodate the entire group and arranged to support engagement throughout the space. Popular collaboration space design concepts include arranging furniture in a circle that symbolizes an equal exchange of ideas and gives everyone a clear view of their collaborators.

For a more traditional, everyday approach to fostering collaboration, try desk groups and neighborhoods. Arrange desks so everyone is facing one another—and watch the ideas flow. However, this approach has limits. Accommodating more than four to six desks is difficult—the physicality of the desks themselves limits the number of group configurations.

Mind the mood and atmosphere

Just like comfort, mood plays a pivotal role in getting creative juices flowing. Set the mood in office collaboration space by getting employees excited to be there. Nothing supports this concept more than the rise of experiential spaces: foosball tables, mini fridges, big-screen TVs, and gaming consoles. They may look like opportunities to slack off, but more companies are realizing that strong collaboration takes root in these spaces.

You don’t need to create a rec room to stimulate good teamwork. You should create a space your employees want to spend time in. Consider a few of these up-and-coming collaborative concepts:

  1. The coffee bar: An espresso machine, barstools, high tables, and calming music emulate the feel of a coffee shop—a place known to spur great ideas and productivity.
  2. The game room: A couch and some chairs gathered around a TV and a gaming console may be your next forum for the exchange of ideas.
  3. The brainstorm area: Bean bags, whiteboards, and coffee power this concept. It’s a place for employees to empty their brains and throw everything at the wall to see what sticks.

There’s no end to workable concepts. What they all have in common is a theme of informality. They encourage employees to let their minds wander to the next great idea.

Technology is essential

What is a collaborative space without the means to act on the ideas conceived within it? Technology is essential in whatever type of space you design. While your company’s Wi-Fi and laptops are a good start, true collaborative spaces take tech a step further.

Make sure collaborative spaces contain AV components like projectors and speakers. Inspirational graphics help springboard great ideas, just like the right tunes may kickstart a fruitful conversation.

Don’t forget to outfit spaces with the basics. Charging stations are a must-have to keep your brainstorming teams powered for as long as it takes to cement an idea. If your company has in-house tablets and other smart devices, furnish the space with these, too.

Avoid constraints

The one thing that shouldn’t be present in your office collaboration space is constraint. The informal, free-flowing nature of collaborative spaces is what makes them successful. Enforcing rigid guidelines like assigned seating or a structured agenda won’t empower creativity—they’ll squash it.

To determine if your collaborative space is constraining, ask a simple question: Does it feel like work? The less it feels like work to brainstorm and collaborate, the more fruitful your space is likely to be. Try to keep the mood high, with positive energy and an open exchange of ideas.

Done right, your collaborative space may feel like the least work-oriented part of your workplace, yet drive some of the best work.

Keep reading: Learn how office workplace design provides a foundation for success.

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Five Empty Office Space Ideas for an Efficient Workplace

By Nai Kanell
Director of Marketing
SpaceIQ

Empty office space is only hurting your balance sheet. Every unused square foot is a lost cost. If you’re paying for office space, you should find a way to put it all to work. There’s no shortage of empty office space ideas, either.

Before you rush to fill unused real estate with desks, keep in mind that not every area needs to be a traditional workspace. In fact, empty office space can be a blessing in disguise. It allows you to introduce employees to new workplace concepts. Here are five creative, practical ideas for turning empty office space into usable, purposeful work areas:

1. Create a multipurpose area

The easiest way to turn an empty space into a purposeful one is to recognize its unlimited possibilities. With dozens of potential uses, creating a multipurpose area is a catchall option.

Make empty office space available on-demand, for any situation. In an instant, space becomes a conference room, a private meeting room, a project staging area, or a guest speaking room. For unenclosed space, create a lounge with a couch and a few chairs. It can double for a presentation space or collaborative meeting area.

Remember, space is valuable not just to you. If you let employees know there’s multipurpose space available, they’ll find a way to make good use of it. Others will follow. Soon, your unused space will take on a variety of uses.

2. Transform it into an experiential space

Repurposing empty office space starts with the people who’ll use it. Experiential areas are a great option to boost morale, improve mental health, and foster collaboration.

A lounge, game room, movie room, mediation studio, or quiet nap room are superb ways to reinvest in your workforce. You’re already paying for the space, so a small investment in comfy chairs, a ping-pong table, or gaming system can make a huge difference in worker morale. Experiential spaces show employees you appreciate them and that you recognize their need for work-life balance. Plus, it ups your workplace’s cool factor as a way to attract and retain talent.

3. Explore hot desks and flexible seating

Empty office space is perfect for hot desking (read more on what is hot desking). Hot desk workstations allows for flexible work experimentation without interrupting the established office layout. Remote workers are the most-likely users, though flexible seating can benefit in-house staff. They can float between a “home” desk and flexible spaces depending on mood or a desire to collaborate with co-workers.

Perhaps the best reason to use empty office space for hot desking is to accommodate the unexpected. Previously unused space is great for accommodating visitors, new hires, and remote staffers.

4. Rent it out

If you’re at a total loss for what to do with unused office space, you can always offer it to other businesses. Renting office space is a creative way to recoup a little (or all) of the money you’re spending on it. Co-working spaces are all the rage for freelancers and remote workers.

The size of your unused space will dictate its rent potential. Offer larger areas for presentations, local organization chapter meetings, or a workplace for a smaller company. Use individual offices or smaller areas for temporary offices or private meeting rooms.

Before you sublet any space, make sure you’re lease agreement allows it.

5. Spread out a little

Ask yourself why your office space is unused. Do you have empty offices, yet employees doubled up at desks? Is your workforce constantly tripping over itself? Empty office space could be the answer to stretching your legs and spreading your wings.

Unused space may also present a growth opportunity. Evaluate different floor plans as your business grows. Utilizing empty office space makes the most of your existing lease and may delay a costly move—not to mention the productivity increase you may see by strategically using unused space.

Think outside the box

Not every empty space is meant to be filled with a desk. Look at your staff and business, then ask, “What types of spaces don’t I have in my office?” Put unused space to work in a way that offers the most for productivity, employee morale, and potential growth.

Empty office space checklist

Whether you’ve got a single unused conference room or several unoccupied offices, unused space is going to waste in your workplace. Don’t pay for what you’re not using. Instead, find a way to transform it into a valuable addition to your office.

Here’s how to make the most of unused space:

  • Identify unused space, including size, location, and features
  • Ask yourself what types of spaces your workplace is missing
  • Gauge demand for different types of spaces or environments
  • Explore the viability of different space utilization
    • Multipurpose (agile) workspace
    • Experiential space
    • Hot desks or hotel desks
    • Rent or sublet space
    • Growth and expansion opportunities
  • Determine where you can derive the most benefit
  • Effectively utilize reproposed space

Finally, ensure you’re effectively managing new spaces. Leverage workplace management tools, like those offered by SpaceIQ, to make the most of hot desks, multipurpose rooms, and rentals. Don’t let all the effort of repurposing space go to waste.

Keep reading: Learn how office workplace design provides a foundation for success.

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Top Five Benefits of Facilities Management

By Shahar Alster
Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder
SpaceIQ

For a business to run effectively, every cog needs to provide support. But the larger and more complex your workplace becomes, the more cogs there are to manage. It’s the role of a facility manager to keep track of them all. The benefits of facilities management are easy to see throughout the business—from the balance sheet to the company culture.

Overseeing workplaces gives facility managers plenty of insight into opportunities and inefficiencies. Take a look at the biggest benefits of good facilities management and how they help a workplace run at maximum efficiency.

1. Asset tracking and management

Tracking assets and budgets through spreadsheets is about as convoluted as it gets.

Take something like determining the cost per year of a copy machine. Here’s a snapshot of how you might’ve figured this out before modern Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) or Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) platforms:

  • Look up annual maintenance logs
  • Compare maintenance logs to invoices
  • Review purchase orders for copier supplies

In this example, there’s three different spreadsheets or document archives to search through—all to ballpark the annual operating cost of a single asset.

Today, there’s a better way. Using an IWMS (read more on what is IWMS) or EAM platform, top-down asset management is efficient and easy. Repairs, maintenance, supplies, and other costs are coded to a specific cost center. The system provides instant insight no matter what’s being measured.

2. Space optimization

Your lease may be 4,200ft2, but how much of that are you actually using? One of the biggest benefits of facility management software is knowing what you’re actually getting for your money and how to make the most of it.

Let’s say you’re only using 3,200ft2. That’s 1,000ft2 going to waste. Facility managers can look at data to figure out A) why that space isn’t being used; and B) what it might be purposed for. FM data outlines the best way to recoup your cost per square foot and capitalize on it to improve revenue.

There’s also the opposite situation to consider. If you’re using 4,000ft2 and the walls are closing in, should you upgrade to a larger space or repurpose your current floor plan? Again, facilities management data will show the way. Adopting a new floor plan or flexible desking solution may save you thousands each month, while giving you the extra capacity you need—all without upgrading your total square footage.

The physical workplace is your largest single overhead cost. Maximizing value is the difference between your facilities being a cost center and a competitive advantage.

3. System of record

Your facilities’ needs evolve over time, making a system of record crucial in understanding and meeting these demands. Tracking historical costs, trends, and changes over time is one of the key benefits of facility management systems. Take a look at a few of the hundreds of data points a facility manager needs to track:

  • Space occupancy growth over time
  • Employee locations or assigned workstations
  • Asset costs and life cycles
  • Utility costs
  • Building repair and capital improvement costs

This small portion of data represents the ebb and flow of a workplace’s needs, as well as those of the people within it. Understanding change over time helps with everything from budget planning, productivity analysis, and real estate forecasting. Well-managed data is at the center of accurately predicting effective facilities management.

4. Cost analysis

Cost governs everything in the workplace. Knowing how much something costs or what recurring costs your company faces is important, but these amounts are far from the total cost of operating a business.Facilities management analysis provides keen insight into the real costs of keeping your workplace running.

For example, knowing how much space you’re effectively using versus the cost of your lease will show the real cost per square foot. From there, you can determine other outlays, like the cost per hot desk as opposed to utilization. Insights abound when you start looking at specific costs versus their contribution to the business.

Understanding and analyzing various workplace costs drives effective business planning. You’ll know how much you spend annually on utilities. You’ll be able to plan for expansion costs when the time comes to get a bigger office. And, you’ll know how to properly budget something like IT service for the year.

5. Integration

Your workplace is getting smarter. The benefits of integrated facilities management support a growing office Internet of Things (IoT). Investing in and managing connected devices is a recipe for even better facilities management and decision-making.

Office IoT is a rapidly growing segment of facilities management. In many ways, it’s also making facilities managers’ jobs easier. Take something like an occupancy sensor. Installing one in every conference room can immediately signal if the room is occupied. Sensors provide insights without manual intervention. This is the case for most integrated, automated technologies…but only if they’re properly integrated and well-managed. Facility managers play an essential role in making the most of the IoT.

Culminating in a better workplace

Each of these benefits contributes to a workplace that’s well-run, efficient, and productive. Through proactive facilities management, business executives know more about the most important part of the company: the workplace. And with that insight comes the ability to make better decisions about how to improve it.

Keep reading: why you need facility management metrics

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Five Team Communication Tools Your Workplace Needs

By Nai Kanell
Director of Marketing
SpaceIQ

Collaboration is important in the workplace. It’s about more than booking a conference room and talking through a project. Today’s successful businesses use a slew of team communication tools to get work done. Whether it’s chatting, real-time collaboration, or delegating, there are myriad ways to get on the same page and stay there.

As the workplace has become more robust, so have communication tools. Thanks to the cloud, it’s possible to collaborate with someone halfway around the world as easily as if they were sitting next to you. It’s about more than just chatting, too. Good communication involves visuals, accessibility, and multiple sharing modes.

Looking for better team communication tools in your workplace? Check out five of the best options available today and why they’re loved by businesses big and small:

1. Slack

Slack is a powerful leader in the world of workplace communications. The platform has more than 10 million daily active users, sending billions of messages every day. Slack’s robust collaboration tools allow users to organize projects by hashtag, message users directly, and integrate thousands of other services.

Slack’s team communication software is incredibly intuitive and organized. Create project channels using a hashtag for organization, like #quarterlyfinances or #sales. Then, invite users to collaborate in channels for an on-topic discussion.

Through integrations you can do just about anything in Slack, from taking polls to automatically scheduling events. If you’re using SpaceIQ, our Slack plugin provides instant access to an employee directory and enables room booking with a single message.

2. Dropbox

Most businesses already use the cloud to share files too large to send via email. Dropbox takes it a step further by providing enhanced organization and superior collaboration. More than 300,000 businesses use Dropbox’s essential team communication apps for project collaboration and communication.

Dropbox’s features include accessibility on virtually any computing device, chat support, and robust file accessibility options. Upload project files, invite applicable team members, set permissions, and get to work. Dropbox is great for internal collaboration, as well as communication with contractors, partners, and clients. It also syncs with hundreds of thousands of connected apps to make collaboration even easier.

3. Google Docs

Nothing beats Google’s G Suite ecosystem for seamless collaboration. Google Docs and Sheets are the gold standard for real-time communication and collaboration. Few team communication platforms are as easy-to-use or as well-integrated as Google.

The best part about Google Docs is how ubiquitous it is. Gmail is the largest email platform in the world with 1.4 billion users—and each Gmail account comes equipped with G Suite apps like Google Docs and Sheets. Gmail users can collaborate in seconds.

Google Docs are perfect for mobile teams and decentralized workplaces. A person at the office can upload a document and grant access to their team. A collaborator in a coffee shop can make edits, while someone on the train can view them in real-time. With broad export capabilities and rigid sharing permissions, it’s easy to make any document a collaborative one.

4. Trello

Project planning requires a ton of communication by team members. There’s a reason there are so many iterations of project-based team communication software out there. At the top of the list for many businesses is Trello.

Trello takes the proven organization structure of a project board and digitizes it. Create cards for various tasks, add details, put them into a workflow, and move everything along as the project progresses—it’s that simple. Where Trello really shines is through its communication features. Project managers can assign employees to different tasks and chat individually about them for optimal organization. Update and roundup emails keep everyone on the same page throughout the duration of a project. And, like most modern platforms, hashtags and @tags make collaboration simple.

More than 25 million users have signed up for Trello, using it for everything from lead conversion to workflow management. For companies with lots of projects delegated across many teams, Trello is an invaluable management tool and a superb piece of communication software.

5. Zoom Conferencing

Traditional team communication tools revolve around text-based messaging. But every modern business knows that video is the way of the future. It’s why more than 65,000 organizations use Zoom Conferencing products and more than 40 million video chats have taken place since the company was founded in 2011.

Zoom takes video conferencing up a notch with an array of robust tools. Not only can employees chat one-on-one in high definition from any camera-enabled device, they can also participate in “Zoom Rooms” with dozens of other collaborators. In just minutes, your entire team can be on screen chatting, no matter where they are in the world.

Zoom also has a built-in messaging system for public and private sharing of text and pictures. The platform is also profile-oriented, so other users can see if you’re available, away, or busy.

Take team collaboration to new heights

Whether it’s via text, video, document collaboration, or project planning, the secret to seamless communication is providing the right platforms. The five options above provide a dynamic foundation for team collaboration and communication.

Keep reading: 10 mobile employee apps that increase productivity and lower stress.

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20 Simple Ways to Enhance Workplace Wellbeing

By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
SpaceIQ

The parallels between a healthy, happy workplace and a productive one are undeniable. Focusing on workplace wellbeing puts your employees first and shows them you not only care, but also that you support them and the things important to them. In return for your support, workers invest in their careers, the workplace, and the company. It’s a positive cycle that fuels growth in individuals and the businesses they work for.

Trying to create a workplace culture rooted in support and wellbeing? Here are 20 simple workplace wellbeing initiatives that can have a big impact on your workers and their attitudes:

  1. Start a fitness challenge: Whether it’s losing a few pounds or getting those daily steps in, many people have personal fitness goals. Getting the whole office involved validates those goals and gives employees the accountability they need to succeed.
  2. Schedule work outings: Hit the links for a round of golf, get your heart rate up with some laser tag, or grab a pint with coworkers at a local hotspot. Outside activities can have a big impact on workplace culture.
  3. Bring pets to work for a day: We love our pets and being around them can lift our spirits. Bringing your pup to work for a day or having an office cat roaming around will make your workplace a little more positive and welcoming.
  4. Institute flexible work hours: Another workplace wellbeing idea that happens outside of the workplace itself comes from flexible work arrangements. Allow employees to work the hours that are best for them. Flexibility lowers stress and improves mood.
  5. Switch to standing desks: Sitting is the new smoking. Get people out of their creaky office chairs and upright with standing desks. Mobile standing desks take this wellness idea another step further to focus on good cardiovascular health.
  6. Put on some music: You don’t have to blast dance party music to give your workplace good vibes. Put on some soft tunes for ambiance or give employees rotating music privileges so they can set the mood in the office.
  7. Create experiential spaces: We all need a break at work. Instead of a lackluster breakroom, build in experiential spaces. A game room, coffee bar, or yoga studio can lift employees’ spirits and keep them happy and engaged.
  8. Have one-on-ones: People want to feel cared about and recognized. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings with direct reports. Encourage open communication. Let them vent and ask questions.
  9. Take up a cause: A culture of caring sheds positive light on your company and gives employees an opportunity to do good. Pick a charity, event, or cause and work as a team to further it—think food drives, trash pickups, and volunteering.
  10. Create quiet spaces: A meditation room or yoga studio may be just the place for your employees to calm down and collect themselves. Resetting their headspace is good for mental health and mood, and will keep your workers happy and positive.
  11. Encourage unplugging: Make it policy for employees to spend some time away from their electronics each day. Encourage them to turn off Wi-Fi, read a book, or let that after-hours email go until the morning. Unplugging enhances wellbeing.
  12. Welcome children and child care: Making your workplace more accommodating to kids will resonate strongly with parents. Child care is expensive and kids are unpredictable. Employees will appreciate a workplace that understands this.
  13. Make recognition part of company culture: Recognizing the personal and professional accomplishments of your staff ensures they feel valued. Take time to show them you appreciate them and you’ll boost the wellness culture of your workplace.
  14. Add a few workplace perks: An espresso machine or Xbox may go a long way in the eyes of employees. These little perks make them feel valued and boost your workplace cool factor.
  15. Make health and wellness central: What is workplace wellbeing without a culture focused on health and wellness? Make healthy snacks available or offer discounted gym memberships. Show your employees you want them to be healthy and happy.
  16. Celebrate: From birthdays to work anniversaries, completed projects to national holidays, celebrate! A party is a great balancer for the stress of hard work.
  17. Improve aesthetics: White walls and fluorescent light bulbs are a huge drain on a person’s energy. Add color, art, and natural light to your workplace and tap into the positive energy they produce. An intriguing workplace instills positive feelings.
  18. Add plants: Plants purify the air and boost mental wellbeing as a calming decorative feature. A little greenery goes a long way toward improving workplace health and wellness.
  19. Invest in comfort: Ergonomic desk furniture can reduce health problems associated with poor posture. Swapping out a few uncomfortable chairs or a worn-out couch in the break room will net positive feedback from employees and their bodies.
  20. Emphasize mental health: Be transparent about supporting good mental health. Enact work-from-home and mental health day policies, while providing access to resources like private rooms or meditation spaces. Put mental health first.

You don’t need to enact all these initiatives to create a workplace centered in employee wellbeing. Pick a few to start and measure the positive effects. It comes down to focusing on your employees and their needs, not just the bottom line. Make this clear and you’ll start to shift the company culture toward mental and physical wellness.

Keep reading: how to improve your organizations workplace ergonomics.

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Space Planning Tips to Make the Most of Your Workplace

By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
SpaceIQ

Your workplace has a finite amount of space, and you pay for every square foot of it. It’s in your best interest to use as much of it as you can, as effectively as possible. But workplace planning isn’t always so straightforward. There are many variables to consider that dictate what’s possible. Before you start rearranging desks, displacing employees, or changing the dynamic of your office, consider a few basic workplace planning tips.

Start with a plan

Without a plan, you’re randomly rearranging things. Who’s to say if your design will work or what potential benefits it may have? Planning shows the full scope of change, helps set benchmarks, coordinates the transition, and gauges your costs.

Successful space planning starts with understanding your goals. What are you trying to get out of your workplace? Some common answers include:

  1. More available space to accommodate business growth
  2. Better organization and structure within the workplace
  3. Enhanced culture and workplace feel for employees and visitors
  4. Optimized space utilization, resulting in higher revenue or lower cost per square foot

When you know what you’re striving for, you can plan for it. Then, take your goal and pair it with the right workplace design. Review space planning concepts to understand the pros and cons of different layouts and understand how they might fit within your workplace. This includes open office concepts, desk neighborhoods, activity-based workspaces, hot desks, and meeting rooms.

Space planning ensures you’re not diving into a workplace redesign headfirst, with no idea if it’ll work or not.

Gauge the response and understand space planning needs

Once you’ve got an idea, take it to your employees. Effective space planning means getting ahead of criticisms or setbacks that may come with a workplace redesign. Ideas sound great to those who came up with them—make sure you’re getting the other side of the story from employees who may not be as keen on them.

Candid conversations with employees will highlight weaknesses in your workplace plan and where you can improve. For example, you may not realize the need for more collaborative workspaces until you talk to employees about their work habits. Or, you land on a quiet work area instead of another conference room.

If data supports your redesign plans, stand firm on them and explain your reasoning to employees. But at the same time, don’t steamroll them. Let your original plan and modifications for employee needs congeal into something everyone is onboard with.

Diving into space planning

With the right idea in-hand and buy-in from staff, the only thing left is to hammer out the details. At this stage, it’s all about optimization. You have the ideas—now, it’s time to put them to work. Here are a few space planning tips to optimize your workplace layout:

  1. Plan for growth and account for capacity. If your office accommodates 60 and you allocate space for 60, you’re already at capacity. There’s no room for growth, unless you want to redesign the entire space again. Design for less-than-maximum occupancy and build in room for growth.
  2. Diversify spaces. Your employees need more than a desk. They’ll need collaborative spaces, private areas, tech-enabled areas, and lounges, among others. Design with the right dynamic of spaces in mind, proportionate to how often they’ll be used.
  3. Pay attention to workplace environment. Features like lighting and noise play a big role in employee efficiency and comfort. As you plan your space and focus on things like desks or walkway allocation, make sure you’re also paying attention to contributing factors within the environment.
  4. Know what you can’t control. There’s no such thing as repositioning windows or moving the fire exit. These are static building features outside of your control. You can only design around them. Keep them in mind as you plan your space, then make the most of the square footage and features you can control.
  5. Incorporate technology. Changing your physical workplace requires close collaboration with IT. Phones, computers, copy machines, modems, and server racks need to be relocated and properly connected. Create a separate IT plan and use this opportunity to figure out how you can make tech work better within your workplace.

In addition, be cognizant of size and space. How big are desks and how much space do they take up? How much room does every employee need to work comfortably? What amount of square footage should be allocated to walkways and other unoccupied spaces? Factor these measurements into a well-coordinated design. Read more on SpaceIQ’s space planning software.

Plan for the space and the people in it

While planning for the physical workplace is important, equally—or more—important is planning for how it’ll be used by your employees. You can create the ideal floor plan with optimal desk layouts and diverse workstations—only to have it spectacularly fail  because it doesn’t actually support your workforce. Always remain cognizant of the human element.

Workplace planning is one big puzzle. Make sure you’re assembling it the right way. Look at the bigger picture, build the framework first, and carefully examine every piece to ensure a great fit. Ultimately, you’ll end up with a workplace that looks and acts the part, based on your reasons for redesigning it.

Keep reading: a buyers and info guide on how to select the best space planning software.

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Get Familiar with Potential Facility Issues

By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
SpaceIQ

A cornerstone of facilities management is dealing with the ever-present issues of the facilities themselves. These are brick-and-mortar, tangible concerns. And often, facilities managers (FMs) are the chief points of contact for facility issues—even if they don’t directly resolve them.

Understanding the scope of facility issues gives FMs a broad view of the systems they’re responsible for maintaining. It’s also helpful to understand workplace upkeep trends and needs that impact cost planning for the maintenance budget.

Not every workplace will face the same facility issues, but there are a core group of commonalities that make up the foundation of good facilities management:

Common utility problems

Electricity, water, and HVAC are the three convenience pillars of any workplace and the most common facility issues revolve around them. Each comes with its own maintenance and repair cost structures and challenges:

  1. Electricity: The most frequent and familiar facility issue here is burned-out light bulbs. Other common electrical issues with wiring, overloaded circuits, appliances, and other equipment.
  2. Water: Plumbing issues take many forms—from leaky faucets to habitually clogged toilets. Even something like a water feature in your lobby falls into the mix. Every wasted drop of water costs the business.
  3. HVAC: Heating, ventilation, and cooling issues stretch from faulty thermostat to air quality problems. Aside from raising costs, HVAC issues put employee comfort and wellness at risk the longer they go unresolved.

Good FMs will see utility problems as opportunities. Use them to find reliable contractors and service providers, and use the data to find solutions for recurring problems.

Infrastructure concerns

Infrastructure refers to the building itself. From the rooftop to the foundation, facility management issues can arise around any single structural aspect. When they do, they’re liable to take form as:

  1. Glass: Windows and interior glass can crack, chip, or shatter. Specialty glass, such as decorative etched panes or tinted glass, only compounds the problem.
  2. Building materials: Time, stress, and the elements take a toll on building materials. Brick and stone erode, wood warps, plastics become brittle, and cement cracks. Caught early, routine maintenance is usually enough to resolve these problems.
  3. Design elements: Every building has its own unique design elements that need care and repair. Elevators, awnings, solar panels, and exterior fixtures are a few examples of features prone to issues.

Everything from the age of the building to the diligence of routine upkeep will determine how frequently issues arise and the seriousness of them. The more diligent your oversight, the more opportunities for preventive action.

Installations

Office facility issues aren’t exclusively large in nature. In fact, FMs spend the majority of their time focusing on smaller workplace issues. Most likely to revolve around installations such as:

  1. Electronics: TVs, audiovisual systems, kiosks, and smartboards are prone to the same issues as any component. FMs need to coordinate repairs, whether they’re done in-house by the IT team, outsourced to vendors, or sent back to the manufacturer.
  2. Wayfinding: Whether digital or static, wayfinding signage requires upkeep (read wayfinding best practices). Any rearranging of the office, workplace expansion, or shifting workspaces need to be reflected in wayfinding signage.
  3. Facilities: Bathrooms, breakrooms, and rest areas all have frequently used fixtures. From toilets to fridges, paper towel dispensers to espresso machines, sooner or later these installations require maintenance.

Using an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system or Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) makes facilities management easier at a granular level.

Furniture and workstations

The most common facility issues are those with the most exposure to daily users. Naturally, furniture and workstations are the primary recipients of daily wear and tear. Issues are bound to arise over time and will need FM oversight to correct:

  1. Furniture: Desks, chairs, break room couches, conference tables, and AV carts wear out and break down with use. When they do, FMs must handle replacements or coordinate maintenance.
  2. Computers: FMs are the point of contact for everything from workspace relocations to hot desk assignments. They handle the logistical issues of workstations and often bridge the gap between IT and employees.
  3. Sensors: In the expanding age of the office Internet of Things (IoT), FMs use sensors and beacons to glean critical knowledge about the workplace. These technologies aren’t without issue. They need frequent updates, configuration, and monitoring to work right.

A good facility manager’s job is never done. Issues across the spectrum are bound to arise, presenting opportunities to set them right and better the workplace along the way. FMs with a good handle on their scope of influence know how to act and react to these potential pitfalls and more. The more FMs know about what they’re up against, the more they’ll be able to do.

Keep reading: how to select the best facility management software for your specific organization.

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How to Improve Workplace Ergonomics

By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
SpaceIQ

In the midst of an office redesign? You’re probably more concerned with where desks are going than what they look like or how they’re set up. Workplace layout can have a profound effect on space utilization. But what about workplace ergonomics? Biomechanics plays a pivotal role in the comfort and wellness of your employees.

Making a few changes to the way your workplace is designed and focusing on proper biomechanics can improve worker comfort that translates into big benefits for everyone.

Ergonomics explained

Everyone has similar biomechanics. We walk on two legs, sit with our spines balanced at the hips, and move our heads from side-to-side to look around. Ergonomics is all about supporting the body’s natural posture and movements.

Ergonomics helps correct bad biomechanics or promotes good posture. Solutions range from relatively simple to complex, depending on a person’s habits. Office chairs with lower-back padding supports the spine’s natural curvature, which can improve seated posture.

The importance of ergonomics in the workplace

The benefits of workplace ergonomics revolve around comfort and wellness, both of which impact employee satisfaction and office culture. Being able to sit in a comfortable chair, watch a TV without craning their neck, or lounge in the break room is about more than just good posture for employees—it’s about feeling comfortable and relaxed because of good posture.

Imagine sitting on a hard, plastic chair for eight hours a day. Not very comfortable, nor good for the posture. Proper workplace ergonomics is linked to reduced risk of stress-related injuries and musculoskeletal disorders. According to one study, poor posture accounts for $1 out of every $3 in workers’ compensation pay.

Implementing ergonomics in the workplace

Ergonomics impacts all types of posture: sitting, standing, reclining, and movement. There are numerous opportunities to improve workplace design using ergonomically friendly equipment:

  1. Chairs: Chairs should have lumbar support that promotes good curvature of the lower back to maintain the natural S-bend of the spine. For neck stabilization, chairs should have the same type of support for the cervical spine.
  2. Desks: Desks should be free of clutter, with equipment and supplies only an arm’s reach away. There should be ample place to rest the wrists while typing and keyboards should lay flat or at a slight incline. When sitting, employees should be able to rest their forearms comfortably on the desk without shrugging their shoulders. Feet should be flat on the floor.
  3. Workstations: Standing or convertible workstations should offer ample room to perform tasks. Adjustable desks should raise or lower to heights that promote an upright posture—no hunching. Keyboard and mouse positions should mirror those used when seated.
  4. Screens: Face computer screens at a level that’s parallel with the person’s neutral-forward head position. Don’t force employees to swivel their heads to see what’s on their screens.
  5. Lighting: Lighting should be dim enough to cut screen glare, but bright enough to prevent squinting. For best results, install adjustable lighting to prevent employees from altering their posture to avoid glare and discomfort.
  6. Presentation Areas: Presentation tools such as whiteboards, slideshow screens, and TVs should be easily viewed from all parts of a meeting room. Equipment should cater to both right- and left-handed individuals with ample space on both sides of the presentation surface to operate a mouse or keyboard.

Don’t discount ergonomics

There are plenty of opportunities to improve your workplace ergonomics. Set standards by paying mind to the body’s biomechanics and the tendency to conform posture to our accommodations.  The result will be better comfort and workplace wellness — two things that’ll benefit any company and its workforce.

Keep reading: corporate agility, a modern workplace must-have trait.