By Noam Livnat
Chief Product & Innovation Officer
Thinking of implementing digital wayfinding within your facilities? It’s a great way to help visitors and staff confidently navigate your campus. Before hanging digital signage or setting up kiosks, there’s an important choice to make: What wayfinding software is best?
When vetting wayfinding solutions, don’t simply browse price points. Start with basic features and capabilities, then narrow your search from there. You’ll be surprised at the wayfinding customization options available.
Benefits-driven software features
Wayfinding makes it easy to find a person or location. The software running on your digital signage and kiosks should be just as intuitive and adaptable as the information it provides. Here are six essential wayfinding software capabilities:
- Interactivity: Choose digital signage wayfinding software (read more on what is wayfinding software) with a front-end, experiential component. Displaying digital signage is convenient, but providing user interaction options ensures your wayfinding solution is truly helpful. Features like point-to-point navigation, pop-up directory information, and interactive maps let a user dictate their wayfinding experience and get the information they need.
- Mobile support: More than kiosks and screens throughout your facilities, make sure you’re picking interactive wayfinding software with mobile support. Whether it’s an app employees can download, QR codes they can scan, or kiosk-to-mobile SMS directions, mobile is a vital component of modern wayfinding. Offering visitors and employees mobile support gives them directions they can take on-the-go.
- Web support: Web support, like mobile, extends the reach of your wayfinding beyond physical installations. Make sure your software offers online hosting for maps and directories, as well as destination mapping. Someone coming to your facilities tomorrow can pre-plan their arrival today thanks to the web supported component of your wayfinding system. Web access is also great for providing a facility map on the company intranet site.
- Pushed updates: On the facilities side, the real convenience of a digital wayfinding system is how easy it is to manage and update. Look for software with pushed updates, so you can make changes easily. If employees change offices, the names of areas change, or your facilities grow, good software lets you make changes centrally and push them to all connected wayfinding devices and applications. This centralizes data, avoiding issues of outdated signage or incorrect maps.
- Dynamic positioning: Whether they use a mobile app, web app, or physical kiosk, people need to know where they are in relation to where they’re going. Dynamic positioning is the key. Good wayfinding software will capture the user’s location and display it on the map or when giving directions. It’s a better level of support than users trying to guess where they are.
- Point-to-point directions: Having an interactive facility map or open directory is great, but there’s still the struggle of getting from Point A to Point B. Point-to-point directions simplify this. Put in where you are and where you’re going to get concise directions on how to get there. Paired with dynamic positioning, it’s an even simpler process—just say where you need to go! Good wayfinding software can route a person based on a room, employee, or department.
- Back-end functionality: On the facilities side, choose easily branded and customizable software, so your wayfinding needs are personalized to your workplaces. Choose software with widespread integrations and, if possible, an open API for further customization. Automation capabilities are another big plus.
To be effective, wayfinding software needs to solve the problem of navigation with clear and present, easy-to-see signage. It should also offer web and mobile support, taking as many steps as possible out of providing directions. The effectiveness and convenience of wayfinding is directly rooted to the software you choose.
Support user-side and facility operations
In addition to the seven features listed above, ensure your wayfinding software offers users and managers easy-to-access and intuitive support.
For users, ease of use is essential. Kiosks and interactive signage should be intuitive and simple. Clearly label all features and options, and make sure graphics, icons, and fonts are easy to read. Wayfinding resources that are welcoming and accessible encourage employees and guests to use them.
For facilities managers, control and convenience are everything. Wayfinding should be as simple to manage and coordinate as it is to use. Whether pushing updates or integrating features, wayfinding software needs to fundamentally complement building management and operations.
Powerful wayfinding software puts experience first. It makes navigating and managing facilities easier and improves people’s interaction with the building. If done right, good wayfinding can better everything from visitor experience to employee convenience.
Keep reading: wayfinding best practices.
Photo by Jordan Ladikos on Unsplash
By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
Powerful, new building automation products make the workplace smarter and help facilities managers improve productivity. They’re designed to be part of a comprehensive Building Automation System (BAS) that makes centralizes and streamlines essential facilities management tasks.
It’s likely your business already has basic building automations in place. It’s even more likely you’re planning to increase the number of automation applications in the coming years. As you research automation opportunities, keep the following six applications in mind:
1. Time- and motion-sensitive lighting
Lights are a standard feature in any workplace. Leave them on 24/7/365 and you’ll burn through kilowatts—and utility budgets—at a tremendous pace. Thankfully, this illuminating problem is one of the easiest to automate.
Motion- or time-sensitive lighting can make a huge impact on workplace utility costs. Powered by sensors, automated lights are affordable, programmable, and easily integrated. Bulbs go off after a preset amount of time after no movement is detected. Timers can automatically turn lights on in parts of your building at specified times, then shut them off when the workday ends.
2. Air handling systems
Does your workplace suffer from Sick Building Syndrome? Poor airflow and inferior air quality can heighten allergies, spread cold and flu viruses, and aggravate breathing conditions like asthma and COPD.
Automated building automation systems for air conditioners and heating units dynamically monitor temperature, humidity, and even allergen counts. Filtering systems are activated as-needed, exchanging stale air for fresh, clean, and pathogen-free ventilation. Top-tier systems even offer programming for cycles, filter change alerts, and zone-controlled air exchange.
3. Occupancy sensors
A more sophisticated foray into building automation for facilities managers is the use of occupancy sensors. These act as triggers for other systems, like lighting and air.
For example, occupancy sensors automate the collection of room occupancy data. Gone are the days of reviewing log sheets. Occupancy sensors show how often a room is used, for how long, and even by whom if integrated with an activity badge system. Sensors aggregate trends into real data—information facility managers can turn into actionable space utilization planning.
4. Detection and alarm sensors
Safety and security are core concerns of facilities management with no shortage of automation solutions. There are sensors for virtually every workplace safety and security threat: smoke and fire, carbon monoxide, noxious fumes, intruders, earthquakes, and even inclement weather. Regardless of the threat, automated sensors provide early warning and allow facilities managers to trigger emergency plans.
Many of these products have been around for decades: smoke detectors are a prime example. Modern iterations provide more direct control via automation. A sensor-powered smoke detector doesn’t just detect smoke. It tells you exactly where in the building the smoke is and triggers alerts and actions—some even send an email blast to FMs, alert the fire department, trigger emergency lights, activate suppression systems, and override building access controls.
5. Access control systems
Larger facilities with tiered employee groups benefit tremendously from access control automation. These systems allow facility managers to centrally set permissions, dictate who has access to what on both a group level and an individual basis.
Gone are the days of traditional “keyholders.” Today, anyone with an approved ID badge can access the facility. Badges or key codes create accountability and an access system of record. Moreover, they’re a form of protection and employee safety. Access control eliminates duplicate keys, manual check-ins, and free-roaming guests.
6. Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) software
Building automation hardware needs a digital bridge—something connecting it all together. Building automation software is the solution: specifically, an Integrated Workplace Management System (read more on what is IWMS software). It’s the premier tool in centralizing and managing next-gen workplace automation.
IWMS software enables automation system control, aggregates data, and serves as a point of reference for the core areas of building management. IWMS software replaces traditional spreadsheets, paper documents, and non-standardized processes still used by many facilities managers. It’s both the first and final piece of the building automation puzzle.
As your building’s immersion into automation grows, consider adopting some or all of the above systems. Each is critical in streamlining facilities management—no matter the business type or size.
Keep reading: five simple building automation products that save your business time and money.
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash
By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
Hot desking reduces facilities’ costs by minimizing the total workspace you need. It’s also a great way to give employees autonomy and flexibility. But for all of hot desking’s many benefits, it has drawbacks if incorrectly executed and managed.
Before making a big change to your workplace, launch hot desks on a small scale on the departmental level. Department-level hot desk experimentation allows testing best methods, processes, and configurations for an eventual scale-up. Below are trial-run ideas that, hopefully, translate to a broader hot desking policy:
Use alphanumeric codes
Delegating desks is easy; managing those workspaces depends on a universal recognition system. The simplest form of desk identification is an alphanumeric code. Alphanumeric coding is a cornerstone of creating order. It’s easy to manage hot desking when everyone is on the same page about which desk is where.
- The “alpha” portion of the desk ID code becomes important at-scale. If you’re testing hot desking in Marketing, all desks will have a MKTG prefix. After the full launch, department prefixes become the norm: MKTG (marketing), ACCT (accounting), BUS (business administration), and so on.
- The numeric part of the ID code is the unique qualifier for the desk itself. It’s important for not just clarifying which desk in the department, but also discerning usage and utilization from a broader management perspective.
Save time and confusion by aligning alphanumeric desk codes with phone extensions or workstation credentials.
A common concern with hot desking is miscommunication about who owns which desks. The simplest way to address this and make hot desking work at the departmental level is with desk stacks.
Stacks are a midway point between total autonomy and individual workstations. Employees know where they sit and generally with whom they’ll share workspace. The difference comes with the ability to choose their own accommodations. This ties a group together under a manager or team leader, which helps maintain the hierarchy.
Companies have adapted this strategy in multiple scales and forms—from three-person “pods” to team stacks of six to 10 people operating at a proverbial round table. The key is providing workstation choice within a departmental framework already familiar to employees.
Successful hot desking requires a system of order. Employees need a way to check into the desk they’re using and others need ways to locate, contact, and manage them. The importance of hot desking software and centralized checking cannot be understated.
There are many ways to centralize and standardize check-in. At the departmental level, the easiest is reporting to the team leader. As the system scales, facility managers assume this role. When fully instituted, check-in can actually be automated via login credentials, employee ID badges, and kiosks. It doesn’t matter what the check-in system is; it only matters that there’s a standardized way of recording desk usage and employee location.
Mastering check-in and desk assignment at the departmental level paves the way for seamless adoption of hot desking on a grander scale.
A simple—and often fun—way to organize hot desks is color-coding. For individual departments, this may not matter much. But as hot desking expands, colors become as important as alphanumeric codes in identifying and managing hot desks.
- Code desks by department. Marketing is green, Accounting is blue, Business Administration is orange, etc. This makes desks identifiable from a distance, instead of having employees go desk-to-desk to read alphanumeric labels.
- Code desks by priority. Red desks are for long-term occupation (eight hours), white desks are for short-term use (less-than two hours), purple desks are for half-day use, and so on. This gives facility managers an instant view based on what’s occupied.
- Code desks by type. Black desks are quiet workspaces, yellow desks have AV hookups, pink desks are standing desks, etc.
Color-coding desks is a simple way to uniquely identify desks for what and where they are, who should use them, and what they should be used for.
Collect feedback and make improvements
Testing hot desking methods at the departmental level is a great opportunity to showcase the value of flexible work arrangements to employees. It sets the tone for what works and what needs adjustment before any dramatic changes are rolled out to the rest of the office.
Experiment at the departmental level, gather feedback from employees, monitor trends, and make changes. Once you have a hot desking model that works at the departmental level, scaling that success is a matter of relying on already-proven systems.
Keep reading: the pros and cons of hot desking
Photo by Unsplash
By Noam Livnat
Chief Product & Innovation Officer
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most transformative driver of modern workplaces. An ever-growing network of connected devices—sensors, beacons, and automation technologies— is bringing traditional facilities management into the IoT era.
The workplace IoT is opening doors to integrated data collection, analysis, and action once thought impossible with siloed information. Workplaces are smarter, more aligned with employee needs, and increasingly cost-efficient.
But IoT devices aren’t panaceas for facility challenges. They need proper configuration and deployment, as well as an ecosystem designed to support them.
Automation is the starting point for facility managers intent on bringing the IoT into their workplaces. This goes beyond a simple understanding. Facilities managers must know how automation generates data and analytics, which are then used to make data-driven workplace improvements.
Master the ITTT mindset
Automation operates on principles of logic—specifically triggers. One of the simplest, and the cornerstone for any basic automation process, is cause and effect, or “if this, then that (ITTT).” The premise centers on triggers and reactions. If X happens, then Y is triggered. It grows more complex and difficult with scale.
Look at IoT facilities management from an ITTT perspective and automation opportunities become apparent. Through another lens, you’re looking for ways to pair action with reaction, problem with solution.
Pinpoint automation opportunities
Smart facility management is all about problem-solving. If you have a problem and know the solution, the automation equation is in place.
Occupancy sensors help solve room overbooking issues when used in concert with booking software. An employee uses Slack to check on room availability. Room sensors relay information to Slack as an ITTT action. If there’s movement, the system returns an “occupied” message; if there’s no presence detected, it shows “unoccupied.”
This simple example provides an automation baseline within an IoT-enabled workplace. The more sensors relaying information, the more opportunities for automation.
Create the framework
Automation framework and the scope of your office IoT are directly proportional. The key to creating a robust automation framework is building out an IoT ecosystem that supports your unique needs.
- Where do problems exist and what devices can solve them?
- What IoT ecosystem do you need?
- Can IoT devices efficiently communicate with each other?
Cooperation between devices and software is key in developing automation.
Test, then deploy automation
Automation takes work, even with a recognized need and the right IoT devices. You’ll likely go through several iterations of an ITTT formula before getting it right. And, as mentioned, the more complex your automations, the more steps and triggers needed for correct programming. Testing before large-scale deployment is imperative.
Consider the room occupancy sensor automation from above. Automation isn’t always cut and dry. How sensitive should motion detectors be calibrated to detect occupancy? How sensitive is too sensitive? What’s needed to prevent false positives? Should there be a sensor point to determine how long the room has been in use?
Testing and fully developing automation means understanding IoT devices’ capabilities, restrictions, parameters, features, and basic functions. Rollout can happen once automations are in place.
Understand automation’s benefit to facilities
IoT facility management solutions offer real benefits. Facilities managers save time and reduce the burden of simple, everyday administrative tasks. Workplaces become more cost efficient to occupy and run. Data is more easily available and robust. All these factors drive workplace innovation.
The modern workplace IoT revolution has just begun. Now’s the time to get your facilities up to speed and on-trend. Automation will improve each step, along with your capacity to make the most of the IoT.
Keep reading: the top five facility management trends.
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By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
Of the many devices in the growing office Internet of Things (IoT), workplace occupancy sensors are fast-becoming valuable tools. They’re simple in function, easy to set up, and rife with benefits. Their focus on detecting occupancy makes them invaluable to facilities managers seeking to learn more about how their workplace is used, by whom, and how often.
There are three important reasons to think seriously about deploying occupancy sensors in your workplace. See how they help improve workplace agility, space utilization, and cost efficiency.
Agility: Is the conference room occupied?
Your group needs a large workspace for the next two hours and the building has three conference rooms, spread out across three floors. The group could go floor-to-floor, checking each conference room’s occupancy—but that’s a waste of time, especially if all three rooms are in use.
If each conference room has an occupancy sensor, there’s a much quicker way to determine what’s open and what’s not. Occupancy sensors provide details with varying degrees of information (depending on the type of sensor). Some sensors show which rooms are occupied. Others tell you how many people are in there. More-advanced sensors reveal how long the room has been in use.
With a quick check, you’ll have the information you need to quickly get your team to work. It can be mere minutes from the time you realize the need for a collaborative space to the time it takes to find and book a room.
Utilization: What workstations are available?
Workplace utilization and occupancy sensors go hand-in-hand. Having a real-time picture of open vs. occupied workspaces is key in everyday workplace agility.
You operate a coworking space with 30 hot desks. Workers book them for two-, four- and eight -hour increments. Occupancy sensors keep your desk availability current. The schedule may say 20 desks are booked, but sensors show only 15 are occupied—the other five occupants left early. Not knowing actual occupancy may mean lost revenue.
Occupancy sensors brings real-time data to bear for facilities management. They’re also useful for reviewing historical data. If 60% of hot desk renters leave after three hours, you can adjust your reservation times and rates to cater more exclusively to this trend .
Efficiency: Cutting costs
Workplace occupancy sensing is a cost-cutting building block. There’s no better example than the wasted utility cost of lighting an unused office area. Automating lights to turn on and off based on occupancy is an efficient way to conserve energy and reduce costs.
Think of the cumulative savings of sensor-based lighting across your workplace. If lights turn on only in occupied areas, you’re saving the equivalent kilowatt-per-hour cost of not lighting unused areas. This also accounts for situations like employees forgetting to turn off the lights when they leave a room.
Energy cost savings isn’t the only benefit occupancy sensors provide. Reviewing historical sensor data can illuminate how much of your space you’re really using. You might discover that one conference room has a utilization rate of 75% a month, while a second conference room is used only 12% of the time. You can then ask, “Do we really need this space?” and “How much is this space really worth?”
Questions to ask before deploying occupancy sensors
Occupancy sensors are versatile. But if incorrectly deployed, they may not serve the purpose you need. Before adding occupancy sensors and spending time setting them up, ask yourself these critical questions:
- What am I trying to accomplish and how will occupancy data help?
- What occupancy metrics should I be tracking? How will I track them?
- Do I need real-time or historical occupancy data? Both?
- Do I have other IoT devices that can connect to or augment occupancy sensors?
- Is the capital investment worth it for my company right now? In the long-run?
While many occupancy sensors offer plug-and-play capabilities, understanding the features and limitations of different models is also important. Not all devices are equal in their capabilities. Understand your needs before investing to ensure you’re making the right choice.
Keep reading: simple building automation products that save your business time and money.
By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
Facilities management processes are the backbone of a well-functioning workplace. Not only do they standardize some of the most critical workplace operations, they set the standard for how work gets done. Without defined processes, there’s room for error, non-compliance, miscommunication, and mismanaged expectations—all things that stunt productivity.
The broader workplace is primed for standardization and automation. But there are several core processes to anchor first, as they set the tone for critical operations.
Here’s a look at five facility management processes to implement or tighten up for a safe, productive, efficient workplace:
1. Work order submissions
What’s the standard operating procedure for reporting facility issues in your workplace? If there isn’t one, there needs to be. Make work order submissions and facilities requests as direct and simple as possible. Eliminating steps between problem identification and resolution is key to facilitating quick results.
For example, a submission form on your company’s intranet or Slack channel for facilities issues provides employees with a direct mode of communication. It replaces “telephone tag” that can occur when an employee reports an issue to their supervisor…who then emails facilities…which contacts the facility manager…and so on.
Work order submissions are perfect for addressing employee comfort issues to fixing workplace hazards.
2. Room reservations
Lost time is a drain on productivity, resources, and revenue. Every minute employees spend trying to find the right space to work in is 60 seconds they can’t get back. One of the simplest, yet most critical, facility management best practices is a room reservation system.
Reservation systems should be dynamic and adaptive, capable of handling the many moving parts of your workplace. Automate where possible. SpaceIQ’s Slack integration is a great example of this. By asking Slack for a meeting room, the system automatically shows available spaces, room capacity, location, and booking options. When booked, the room appears unavailable to anyone seeking that space. It prevents the wasted minutes and frustration that come from searching for space.
Consider this: If you save 10 minutes in room searches each day, that’s 43 hours a year—more than a standard work week.
3. Directory management
Your workplace should be collaborative—not just between departments, but across the entire company. In order to communicate and collaborate, employees need access to each other. This starts with an up-to-date directory.
Facility managers need a process for maintaining a real-time directory that’s open and accessible. This is more of a challenge in today’s dynamic workplace. Hot desks and flexible workspaces mean employees are always on the move. Remote workers have different schedules and contact information. Growing companies are constantly adding new employees.
Directory management through an Integrated Workplace Management System (read more on what is IWMS?) should be a priority—including automating tasks that keep directories relevant. A check-in system that updates hot desk occupancy, for example, means employees always know where to find co-workers—reducing confusion and unnecessary inquiries while increasing collaboration and productive communication.
4. Emergency delegation
An emergency is no time for chaos. In the event of a fire, inclement weather, or other disaster, an action plan prevails. Your employees should understand their responsibilities and how to act accordingly. Emergency delegation is centrally important among facilities management processes and procedures.
Start by naming emergency leaders—individuals responsible for critical tasks. Have standard operating procedures for these tasks, such as checklists or “if this, then that” actions. Then, develop a general situation-based plan for all emergencies. Where should employees exit in case of fire? What should they do during an active shooter situation? Where should they take cover in case of a tornado? Develop these processes in granular detail and make everyone aware of the appropriate actions. Then, quiz and drill everyone to ensure they’re prepared for any eventuality.
5. Workplace analyses
Every facility manager needs a process for collecting, aggregating, analyzing, and presenting workplace data for better decision-making and growth. Data and analyses provides for dynamic understanding of workplace needs and trends.
Use an IWMS in conjunction with data collection tools, such as net promoter surveys or Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Make sure there’s a method for collecting, categorizing, and ordering data. Then, ensure that data can be presented in a way that makes it easy to identify trends, anomalies, or demands. For example, occupancy sensors can send weekly room and desk occupancy data to your IWMS. The easier you make collecting and reviewing data, the more you’ll know about your workplace.
Structure creates stability
Every workplace process you create adds structure. The more structure you have, the easier it is to shape the best possible workplace for your employees. Start with these five core processes. Good processes make it easier to adapt as your workplace grows and becomes more complex.
Keep reading: how to select the best facility management software for your workplace.
By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
Automation is the key to efficiency in the digital age. The boom of the Internet of Things (IoT) is bridging the gap between computers and real-world problems, while driving solutions for doing more with less. Building automation products like sensors, beacons, and relays—backed by powerful software ecosystems—put facility managers at the helm of a workplace that’s primed for automation.
Like any technology option, automation serves a specific purpose. It’s up to facilities managers to identify opportunities for automation in their workplaces. Addressing these opportunities with the right building automation system products stands to save you time and money.
Take a look at five simple building automation products that may save your business time and money from the moment they’re installed and programmed:
1. Motion sensor lighting
The more square footage you have, the more lights you’ll have driving up your energy bill. There’s no getting around lighting—employees need it.
Motion sensor lighting is the simplest type of building automation sensors, yet one of the most effective in saving money. Putting these sensors wherever you have lighting will immediately cut your costs. The lights turn on when people are detected and the room is in use; they turn off after a period of not detecting any motion. It’s a simple, efficient form of automation.
2. Smart thermostats
Another accessible form of automation is the smart thermostat. HVAC costs as one of the highest utility costs for any business, so these thermostats are great additions to building automation.
Instead of heating or cooling to a specific point, smart thermostats factor in machine learning and automation to heat and cool efficiently. For example, if your business is unoccupied before 8 a.m. and after 6 p.m., smart thermostats learn these habits and behave accordingly, setting different temperature ranges to conserve energy. Likewise, they’re quick to adapt to comfort changes like a heat wave or sub-zero temps.
3. Desk occupancy sensors
Installed near a desk, these sensors detect when someone is sitting and working at a specific workstation. For offices with hot desks and flexible workstations, they’re a must-have for automating workforce management.
When managed through an Integrated Workplace Management System (read more om what is an IWMS system), desk occupancy sensors give facility managers instant insight into what’s open vs. what’s occupied. This eliminates the need for manual check-ins, complicated email chains, or more expensive badging systems.
4. Access control systems
Managing personnel permissions is critical. Even more important is keeping unwanted people out of sensitive areas, like server rooms, filing areas, or tech rooms. With access control systems, gone are the days of overburdened keyrings or susceptible master keys. These systems make badges the only key your personnel need to access authorized areas.
Access control is centrally managed, with both tiered and user-level permissions. With a few keystrokes, facilities managers can authorize or bar access to any area of your facilities for any group or individual—all without a physical lock or key. If an employee quits, is promoted, or needs temporary special permissions, the solution is near-instantaneous. For sprawling facilities with various user levels, access control automation is invaluable.
5. Emergency systems
Because automation is trigger-based, emergency systems are a vital opportunity every facilities manager should capitalize on. Automation during an emergency can add crucial life-saving minutes to an evacuation or a layer of safety when it’s needed most. Consider the following emergency automations:
- A trigger that removes access restrictions for elevators in the event of an alarm
- A trigger that sends an emergency alert notification to all occupied workstations
- A trigger that provides emergency exit instructions to every employee based on location
- A trigger that turns on all lighting and activates flashing emergency signage
With infinite possibilities for improving safety, emergency automation systems are an investment every business should consider.
Automation’s bigger picture
For each of these products, build in automated data collection. Motion sensor lighting shows energy use savings. Access control provides a record of who accessed what areas and when. Desk occupancy sensors show how often desks are in use, painting a picture of utilization over time.
Data is the key to making smarter workplace choices. Each informed decision adds up to future time and cost savings. Building automation products provide twofold benefits: Convenience upfront and insights over the long term. In both cases, automation results in continuous workplace improvement by helping facilities managers control more variables.
Keep reading: deploying workplace occupancy sensors to improve agility, utilization and efficiency.
By Noam Livnat
Chief Product & Innovation Officer
There’s a finite amount of space in your workplace. Maximizing the square footage you have is the best way to keep overhead costs in check and put off a larger lease until it’s absolutely needed. But this is easier said than done, especially when it feels like you’re already short on office space. Thankfully, there are a few space-saving office ideas to make your workplace more nimble.
1. Recognize dead space
Before maximizing the office space you’re already paying for, figure out how much of it you can actually use. Every workplace will have dead space—areas you can’t use at all. You can’t put a desk in front of the fire exit or position a copy machine in front of an office door. Factor these unusable spaces out of your square footage to see what you’re left with.
Then, determine where dead spaces are located. You might have a great plan for a new desk arrangement that’s foiled by dead space. Generate a floor plan that’s proportionally accurate before making changes. Realistic workplace space saving starts with a comprehensive understanding of the real footage available to you.
2. Use corners effectively
Corners are the bane of many workplaces because they’re so restrictive. Instead of leaving them empty or filling them with fixtures for the sake of using the space, consider how to actually use them.
Amenities and equipment are great corner candidates. Copy machines can be neatly tucked away, yet still easily accessible. Ditto on garbage and recycling bins, supply cabinets, and decorations. Corners and permanent workspaces are a bad marriage. No one wants a desk that faces two walls.
3. Explore flexible workspaces
Flexibility is a hallmark of small office space saving ideas, and flexible workspaces are the best way to optimize defined areas. If you’re short on square footage, using a single space for multiple purposes is about as efficient as you can get.
Conference rooms are one example. They’re rarely occupied all day, every day. Such spaces are great for quiet work spots, collaborative project areas, and temporary staffing spaces. You’ll get the most out of space you’re already paying for while offering diverse work environments for employees and guests.
Keep in mind, flexible workspaces only work if they’re well-managed. A booking system is a must, including availability information.
4. Take a minimalist approach
Furniture hogs the most physical square footage in the workplace. A great way to free up space is to reduce the amount of furniture you have and invest in minimalist styles.
Space-saving desks—like standing desks or convertible models—net precious square feet. Replace old, bulky chairs with ergonomic models that take up less space. Say goodbye to massive conference tables and replace them with bean bag chairs to recoup square footage and shift the work atmosphere.
Reducing furniture size can have a decluttering effect. It’ll seem like the walls have been pushed out, alleviating that cramped feeling.
5. Embrace the Cloud
How much of your workplace is reserved for file cabinets? Are you making multiple copies to send to remote employees? If so, it’s time to embrace the cloud. Digital files are accessible from anywhere by anyone who needs them.
Cloud archiving is perfect for backing up hard-copy files. Once scanned and placed in digital folders, those bulky paper files can be sent to storage or recycled. Another bonus: file cabinets become unnecessary. Say hello to more usable space.
Cloud collaboration software can also reduce the number of needed desks. Converting five workers to remote staff frees up workspaces for hotel and hot desks. Real estate once occupied by file cabinets is now available for flex space.
6. Reevaluate your floor plan
Sometimes you need a big change to unlock the value of small office space. The biggest shift is a floor plan realignment. Simple changes to current desk layouts can both unlock space and allow better collaboration between employees and teams.
Consider the switch to desks neighborhoods from individual desks. Open concept floor plans are another option, but are waning in popularity. A workplace filled with hot desks and flexible work environments all fit the bill.
Make data-driven changes
Walking the line between space utilization and productivity is tricky, especially in smaller workplaces (read more on space planning software). To avoid upsetting this balance, approach space saving ideas with as much data as possible. Look at metrics like occupancy, cost per head, and real cost per square foot. Use data to drive decision-making and track changes to gauge the effect.
You may have a small amount of square footage to work with, but recognizing the value of every inch highlights opportunities for better utilization across your workplace.
Keep reading: welcoming reception area ideas for small offices
By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
Facility managers are a central point of contact for building issues, space planning, and workplace data analysis. This means being able to communicate clearly company leaders, employees, vendors, and visitors It’s no surprise “good communication skills” top most facility manager job postings.
Frictionless communication is key. This goes beyond what you say and how you say it. In the age of multiple communication channels, a multigenerational workforce, and fast-paced work environments, good communication is equal parts effort and strategy.
Here are a few tips for facilitating clear and honest two-way communication in the workplace:
Create strong communication channels
Technology is your friend. Harness it and use it to develop robust facilities management communication strategies. Namely, set up communication channels that make it easy for people to report issues or submit requests.
- Email: Answer emails within 24 hours to develop a communicative rapport with staff.
- Messaging: Whether you use Google Chat, Slack, Messenger, or another platform, maintain activity during work hours with push notifications enabled.
- Forms: Great for feedback, suggestions, and reporting problems. Make sure there’s a framework for follow-up.
- Phone: Put your extension in your email and on materials relating to facilities management. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone when it rings.
The result is simple: make yourself easy to reach and respond as quickly as possible.
Establish routines and processes
Good facility manager communication depends on a sound framework. Communication routines and processes bring stability to your role. And, they help people you’re communicating with understand what to expect.
Take email, for example. Read and reply to messages two to three times per day—first thing in the morning, at lunch, and at the end of the day. If employees know they can email in the morning and get a reply by lunch or email at the end of the day and get a reply first thing in the morning, it sets realistic expectations.
Another example is form submission and follow-up. Build forms to encourage good communication from employees. Sort forms into your inbox, so they’re organized by the nature of the submission, time, department, etc. From there, develop processes for handling submissions—address the issue directly or pass it on to another department.
Developing routines and processes for communication makes it easier to stay on top of inquiries and ensure they get the attention they deserve.
Be direct and to-the-point
A general rule of interpersonal communication—one that’s especially important for facilities managers—is being succinct. Don’t mince words or overcomplicate things. There’s much less chance for miscommunication if you eliminate excess, potentially confusing information. You’ll develop a reputation for being helpful and the authority on workplace operations. And, if you don’t have the answer someone is looking for, point them in the direction of someone who does.
Strengthen interpersonal communication
Face-to-face communication is just as important as email, messaging, and other forms of digital contact. Some of the best communication tips for facilities managers are the ones you can practice in everyday interactions:
- Be positive: Negativity stunts communication. Maintain a positive air to encourage honesty and comfort for employees who are voicing concerns.
- Be responsive: Validate conversations in a meaningful way that shows the other party you were listening—whether it’s restating their concerns or proactively addressing their issues.
- Be respectful: People want to be heard. Listen, engage, and empathize. That speaks volumes when it comes to respect.
- Be reliable: Be reachable and approachable. If people can count on you, they’ll talk to you.
- Be exemplary: Set the standard for communication in your workplace. Set the example you want people to follow in terms of quality communication.
A facility manager is the voice of the workplace. Make your voice heard through interactive technologies and responsive interactions. Creating strong communication channels help employees feel heard, respected, and valued.
Keep reading: multigenerational workforce checklist
Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash