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What is Shared Workspace?

By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
SpaceIQ

As the workplace landscape continues to evolve, there’s often confusion about what constitutes a shared workspace. Is it a place where multiple people work at once? Or is it an area where many employees work at different times? What about a place where employees from different companies work side by side? What is shared workspace?

“A shared workspace” vs. “a collaborative workspace”

The biggest misconception about shared workspace is that it’s shared by many people at the same time. This is actually what’s referred to as “collaborative space.” Understanding the difference means understanding the qualifiers: shared workspace vs. collaborative workspace.

  • A shared workspace is shared by many people at different times. The workplace is static; the occupants are dynamic.
  • Many people use a collaborative workspace at the same time for the purpose of working together.

A shared workspace implies an individual occupant using space for a limited time. When they leave, that workspace will become occupied by someone else, instead of sitting idle.

Coworking, shared workspaces, and shared offices

The rise of coworking has created confusion between the meanings of coworking, shared workspaces, and shared offices. While coworking and shared workspaces can be used virtually interchangeably, both are different from shared office spaces.

Shared workspaces (coworking spaces) are workstations rented by remote employees, freelancers, gig workers, consultants, and anyone else who may not have a central office—one space for one individual. Shared office space is a much larger workplace rented for many people in a similar fashion. Where a freelancer may rent a coworking space, a startup may periodically rent shared office space to bring its entire team together.

Shared office space also differs from shared workspaces in the amenities and resources offered. Because these areas generally support small companies, they’re outfitted with perks, tech, and features for a broader group of people. They’re also a lot more spacious—with a price to match.

Benefits at every level

Understanding the differences in terminology for each type of modern office space is advantageous in leveraging them. If you understand your need for space, it’s easy to spot the right solution and see the benefits of coworking or shared office space. Here’s a quick look at the benefits of each type of space:

  • Collaborative workspace: You still maintain the space in-house, allowing you to use it however best suits your company’s current needs. Use collaborative workspaces to stage a big project, ping-pong ideas back and forth, meet with high-profile clients, teach a seminar, or any other task that involves multiple people in the same accommodating space.
  • Shared workspace: Employees without a permanent desk get access to an individual space where they can work supported on an ongoing or as-needed basis. They get the freedom to use the workspace on their terms, while companies unburden themselves of costly commercial leases.
  • Shared office space: Startups and agile companies without the need for permanent office space can keep overhead costs low, while still utilizing a traditional workplace setting. They also get access to workplace resources and a professional setting that’s useful for meeting with clients or collaborating on large initiatives.

There’s scale built into this model. Collaborative workspaces benefit companies retaining their own real estate, which maximizes space utilization opportunities. Shared workspaces benefit individuals by giving them flexibility. Shared office spaces benefit groups that exist somewhere in-between an established company and freelancers.

The landscape is painted by terminology

Pairing the correct terminology to the many definitions of modern workspaces legitimizes them. It creates industry-wide consensus and allows for standardization in how these spaces are perceived and operated. Like the coworking movement is vital to the evolution of the way we work, the vocabulary used to describe it is equally as important.

Understanding terminology also helps make sense of this emerging industry. When you understand the difference between shared workspace and a shared workplace, you’ll also understand why the latter costs as much as four times more in many cases. Likewise, when evaluating the cost of collaborative space vs. coworking subscriptions, you’ll be able to do a proper cost-benefit analysis. It’s all about having a definite understanding.

Be cognizant when reading industry articles and reports that use this terminology. Not everyone is on the same page as to meaning and vocabulary. Look for context to make sure terms aren’t interchangeably used. A firm grasp on industry terminology will lead to better realization of the way these spaces are presented, portrayed, and capitalized by your business.

Keep reading: The benefits of coworking.

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Seat Allocation Software

By Nai Kanell
Director of Marketing
SpaceIQ

Office seat allocation software is an essential resource in planning where (and when) employees sit within the bounds of your workplace. Without the right software, seat allocation becomes an archaic system of spreadsheets and notes, at best. At worst, it’s a total free-for-all. Seat allocation software creates a system for order and optimization so every seat in your workplace is a good one.

Workplace managers rely on office seat allocation software for its features, which revolve around understanding your space as much as utilizing it. Mapping floor plans, tying those plans to processes and actions, receiving dynamic updates, and collecting data are the pillars of good seat allocation software.

Dynamic floor plans

How can you staff employees to desks and workspaces if you don’t have a top-down view of your workplace? It’s not enough to know you have X number of single desks, Y number of conference rooms, and Z number of activity-based environments. You need to see them in total to properly utilize each. More importantly, you need to see them in real-time.

Leading office seating plan software platforms bring dynamic versatility to seat allocation. Workplace managers get a top-down view delineating which seats are occupied and which are open. Not only does it paint a real-time picture of space utilization, the software provides accessible data for solving imminent seating questions. For example:

  • How many workspaces are open? Occupied?
  • Are there workspaces to accommodate larger groups?
  • Is there an open desk on the third floor?
  • Where’s the nearest open, quiet workstation?

Dynamic floor plans unlock a true understanding of the workplace and the many spaces within it. As a result, it’s the best way to effectively allocate seats—temporarily or permanently.

Room and desk bookings

Dynamic floor plans are further supported by room and desk booking features. Seat allocation software can alleviate the burden of active space oversight by a workplace manager.

Room and desk booking features are useful at any scale. In agile environments, it’s essential for smooth workplace operations. In an office with permanent seating and no hot desks, it’s critical for reserving conference rooms and other amenities. Best of all, the functions don’t change. Seat allocation software fields the requests, handles the reservation, and updates the floor plan. Few examples better illustrate the power of workplace automation.

Read more: streamline desk booking with office hoteling software.

Visual directory

Most workplaces use an office seating chart or a directory. In workplaces with fluid seating arrangements or flexible workstations, the directory changes as often as each individual desk occupant. It’s imperative for real-time seat allocation software to include a directory component that also updates as changes are made.

A directory feature is truly useful when it’s visual. Remote workers, gig workers, interns, consultants, and anyone else spending a fraction of their time in the office may not be recognized immediately on sight. A visual directory shows who a person is, where they’re sitting, and how to contact them.

Space and use analytics

Seat allocation isn’t only about putting people in chairs. It’s about making sure you’re doing it in a harmonious, efficient way. Packing workers in like sardines is great for efficiency, but detrimental to productivity. Giving everyone a wide berth leads to space inefficiency, despite positive responses from employees. It’s about finding a balance using data on various seating arrangements.

A data-backed desk allocation tool answers questions an eye test can’t address. Examples include:

  • How often is a desk utilized on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis?
  • What percentage of individual workspaces see occupants daily?
  • What’s the most popular workspace?
  • How much does a workspace cost based on occupancy data?

When you have the data to understand seat allocation, you can better allocate those spaces. Space utilization data fuels insightful shaping of the workplace. Every change you make to your workplace yields more utilization data. Rinse, repeat, and optimize.

Facility requests

There’s a lot more to devising a seating plan than figuring out where people sit. There’s the element of upkeep due to traffic to and from various spaces. Tech might not always work right. Cleanliness might be an issue. Whatever the case, a reporting system is needed. What better platform than the system used to assign the seat?

Good seat allocation software pinpoints not only what workspaces employees need, but what upkeep those areas require. After all, seat allocation software is as much about space management as it is about workforce placement.

Operation from the cloud

All these features are limited unless your seat planning software operates within the cloud. The cloud connects real-time functions and real-world actions, uses powerful computing to process data, and unlocks automation capabilities.

If you’re making the transition to data-backed workplace design or testing flexible floor plans, the first step is rolling out office seating plan software.

Keep reading: How to make desk sharing work.

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Blog

Coworking Modern Workplace

By Noam Livnat
Chief Product & Innovation Officer
SpaceIQ

Coworking spaces are exploding as some of the world’s biggest companies adapt to the gig economy and demand for flexible work arrangements. Why? There’s no single concrete reason, other than a perfect harmony of variables that make coworking a natural solution to space needs. Better still, it’s a solution benefitting both companies and workers.

But the question remains, what makes coworking a better solution than open or flexible office environments? Read more on what is coworking – a look into the future.

1. Low-cost workspaces amidst rising CRE costs

Commercial real estate costs are rising. This has rippling effects on businesses renting office space, even beyond driving up the cost of their monthly lease payment. It makes finding affordable workspaces harder, increases pricing power for leasing companies, and adds a hefty burden to a company’s balance sheet, according to 2016 FASB accounting standards.

Renting coworking space absolves a business of these costs. Every company deploying the space-as-a-service model assumes the greater burden of leasing real estate. They then pass the cost onto companies in the form of pay-as-you-go fees. In shedding office space and renting through a coworking company, a business can indirectly alleviate its second-largest expense: the workplace.

Even if coworking membership costs are equal to the cost of a lease, it still gives the company the ability to scale space as-needed. There’s a modicum of control over how much space they need and what they’re paying to occupy it—control not always possible with a standard lease.

2. Support for a non-traditional workforce

Today’s workforce operates outside the bonds of what was a traditional schedule. Nine-to-five jobs are scarcer, while business suits are giving way to t-shirts and jeans. It’s only natural that a less-traditional work environment would follow.

Employees want the freedom to work on their own time, in an environment of their choosing. And while an agile office may provide this, it still doesn’t support the intrepid schedule of most Millennials and Gen-Z workers. They have kids, jobs, and other obligations, Their primary demand is a manageable work-life balance. Coworking gives them the flexibility they want, and they reward that flexibility through efficiency, transparency, and productivity.

With a coworking subscription, giggers and remote employees are free to travel and plan their days around themselves. Work is still a priority, but it’s less of a constraint.

3. Getting rid of workplace stigmas

Stigmas of the traditional office model still linger. Managers peer over the shoulders of subordinates as a project deadline looms. Employees feel guilty for congregating around the water cooler. Chatty coworkers suck away much-needed work time.

These stigmas disappear when the central workplace does. What’s left is the framework of an office, free to operate without friction. Employees get out from under the thumb of managers, while still adhering to deadlines. Coworkers take breaks to relieve stress without the guilt. The autonomy workers need to stay productive blossoms. A coworking space offers these things in a laid-back, independent workplace setting.

4. Space for every worker

Even in offices with diverse workspaces, it’s nearly impossible to accommodate every work style. Dedicating space to individuals vs. groups, introverts vs. extroverts, and employees with non-traditional work schedules stretches available square footage thin. The beauty of coworking spaces is their diversity.

The popularity of coworking spaces is creating stiff market competition. To distinguish themselves from other coworking startups, many companies are adopting niche themes. They market to specific types of workers or scenario-based working, which gives people the opportunity to work where, when, and how they want—even if those variables change. Instead of changing the space to fit the worker, the worker can simply change their space.

5. The space-as-a-service model is growing

The space-as-a-service sector is valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Coupled with the rise in growth hacking strategies and soaring CRE costs, coworking is only getting bigger. And while many companies still ask, “How does a coworking space work?” more are buying in to the many benefits coworking offers.

The shift to digital and cloud computing also makes it easier for companies to eliminate a central, physical workspace. When meetings, collaboration, presentations, accounting, and communication can all be done remotely, the chief purpose of a workplace is moot—along with the various types of workspaces within it. Advancements in the cloud and the migration of enterprise services allows any workspace to become a home base.

6. A “best of both worlds” solution 

Coworking is largely about cost-savings for employers and flexibility for employees. These two advantages make it a natural solution to the need for flexible space, trumping even the most versatilely designed office.

It’s hard for any business to compete with the space-as-a-service model and coworking spaces. And why would they want to? Repurposing the second-largest expense on the balance sheet while leveraging an improved employee experience is often worth the transition to the coworking model.

Keep reading: The Benefits of Coworking.

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Blog

Use Coworking Software

By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
SpaceIQ

In theory, coworking spaces are a breeding ground for chaos. Unpredictable demand, unidentified user base, variable needs, and desire for autonomy all work against productivity and organization. But the reality of coworking is quite the opposite. Most coworking spaces are well-run, efficient businesses. The secret—and the line between chaos and order—is often coworking software (learn more, what is coworking and what does the future hold).

Coworking software is the foundation for operating a coworking space. To understand why, it’s important to think about coworking not as real estate, but as logistics. There’s always the same number workspaces and static square footage. Coworking software is about controlling the unknown variables and bring order to your operation.

Take a look at seven ways coworking software creates a framework for organization and how it lends itself to proper coworking space management.

1. Space management

The primary purpose of coworking software is to provide insight. This means presenting available workspace from a top-down view. How many single workspaces are in the facility? Group spaces? Conference rooms? Knowing the static variables helps you plan for the unknown.

Coworking space management software helps you make definitive conclusions about your space. By reviewing data, you can see if there is too much focus on one type of space over another. Such insights help optimize controllable variables: namely how to use space.

2. Consistency of processes

Using coworking software as the starting point for coworking space management processes breeds consistency. From guest check-in to emailing reservation confirmations, processes through a central platform are standardized and automated. This brings even more order to workspace management.

Consistent processes also make training easier. Coworking management staff are all on the same page when processes are uniform and standardized.

3. System of record

There’s a certain anonymity to coworking users, even when they give you their information to reserve a spot. You don’t actually know this person: who they are, what they’re like, why their using your space, etc. Booking them through coworking software creates a system of record that may be valuable in getting to know your customers.

Through a system of record, you can see that Jim reserves a coworking space twice weekly. Kevin books a conference room once a month. Pam reserved a full-day space once and hasn’t been back since. These insights are powerful. They help optimize the business, whether through re-marketing efforts or feedback-driven initiatives.

4. Historical usage data

With daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly snapshots of space usage, workspace management software makes it easy to execute on different strategies. Coworking space owners can target micro and macro data points to fine-tune their businesses and bring even more stability to how they purpose space.

For example: Average space utilization is down 34% on Mondays, while 44% of conference room spaces go unused on Fridays. The last week of the month has the highest number of space reservations. Simple data points like these identify opportunities for maximizing space utilization and revenue.

5. Real-time occupancy monitoring

One of the biggest obstacles in managing coworking space is handling demand in real-time. While most spaces sell subscriptions, being able to accommodate on-the-spot requests adds a new logistical challenge.

Coworking software paints a real-time picture of what spaces are open and where. It can also display data about how long spaces are occupied and what upcoming reservations are on the schedule. Coworking software is the difference between turning away a paying customer and saying “There’s space available.” or “There will be space available in 10 minutes.”

6. Centralized resources

Coworking software adds the much-needed benefit of consolidated task management to workspace oversight. No matter what patrons, staff, or space needs there are, they’re easily addressed with the right management software.

Handling customer requests and reservations or examining data and planning resources is central to the software. The right platform will provide the necessary tools to manage a coworking business. It consolidates the number of people or time and effort it takes to do so.

7. Cost optimization

There’s pricing power in knowing demand for your coworking spaces. Having a collective understanding of your space, how often it’s used, who’s using it, and why allows you to set prices that are advantageous for growth. Space management software highlights the variables you need to exercise pricing power.

More than maximizing what you charge for workspaces, good management data can also shine a light on where you’re losing money, wasting effort, or over-allocating. Reviewing financial data informs operational strategy, which feeds back into better financials.

There’s no substitute for space management software when running a coworking space. These seven benefits are enough to drive a space continually toward success. They bring order to a business model prone to chaos and add certainty to the unpredictability of a non-traditional workforce. Best of all, coworking software gives rise to the space-as-a-service model fueling the shift in how we work today.

Keep reading: coworking space benefits and the workplace evolution.

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Blog

Soft Services in FM

By Nai Kanell
Director of Marketing
SpaceIQ

Within facilities management, there are hard and soft services. Most FMs are familiar with hard services—fixed parts of facilities operation you can’t change. But what are soft services in facility management?

Soft services comprise actions and services you can change. They’re often non-essential and come with a wide degree of variability in how they’re managed. But the most important part of soft services is how they’re used and who they benefit. When executed correctly, soft services elevate the workplace in ways that benefit employees and the work they’re doing.

Soft vs. hard services in facilities management

To understand the unique importance of soft services, we need to better distinguish them. That means asking, “What are soft and hard services in facility management?” Here’s a quick explanation for each, as well as a list of hard and soft services in facilities management.

Hard facilities services

Hard services are physically integrated into the building. They can’t be removed and are vital to the workplace environment. They directly or indirectly impact every person in the building on some level. Some examples include:

  • Heating
  • Lighting/electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Fire safety systems
  • Air conditioning
  • Mechanical

Soft facilities services

Soft services aren’t integrated into the building and directly benefit employees who interact with them. They’re not essential—instead, they’re meant to make the workplace more comfortable, enjoyable, or secure. Some examples include:

  • Building security
  • Cleaning
  • Landscaping
  • Office decorating
  • Catering
  • Office moves

The difference between hard and soft services is far from subtle. Facility managers need to understand the roles of both in creating an optimal workplace.

Benefits for employees and the business

While considered non-essential, soft services are critical in cultivating a well-run workplace. They directly impact variables like productivity and job satisfaction. It’s important not to see them as perks or superfluous costs, but rather investments in a more productive, functional workplace.

Take landscaping, for example. Landscaping doesn’t directly impact your business’ cash flow or revenue. But it does have value in its effect on employee mood. Giving workers a place to go outside and enjoy their lunch or conversation boosts their spirits when they return to work. Lower stress and positive mood directly contribute to a job well done. That does affect cash flow and revenue.

The same goes for every soft service. The service itself may not directly impact business success, but it will have indirect consequences.

Raising the value of your workplace

What many businesses often realize is that soft services raise the value of their workplace. Not in a fiscal sense, but in a qualitative sense.

Catering lunch every Friday doesn’t increase the value of your physical workspace, but it does boost employee morale. It’s also a great way to attract and retain talent, and supplement your business’ perks. The value added here is cultural. Employees feel appreciated and encouraged to do their best.

Cleaning, decorating, moving, and similar soft services support the core function of the office space: accommodating employees. It’s not just about giving them the tools to work; it’s about ensuring they feel welcome, valued, and empowered.

Good facilities management practices 

Many facility managers are hired to manage hard services—and they do. But a good workplace manager also recognize the value of soft services. Not only will they make the proper investments in these services, they’ll communicate the benefits to get stakeholder buy-in.

The best way to understand which soft services are important is by listening to employee feedback. Understand what employees’ needs and wants are. Develop a mode of feedback such as an informal workplace survey or a suggestion box. Look at the efficacy and urgency of the feedback to understand the best course of action.

Say a chief piece of feedback is “not feeling safe leaving the building after dark.” This clues FMs into the need for on-site security. This soft service not only improves morale, it shows genuine concern for employee wellbeing. Juxtapose this with suggestions like “bringing in a masseuse” to understand what’s vital and what’s a perk.

Support services are essential

What are support services in facilities management? Soft and hard services are part of ensuring your facilities are living up to your expectations and supporting workers on a daily basis. Soft services are the difference between simply having facilities and creating a workplace. The right approach to managing support services is to correlate effort to outcome.

Keep reading: automation and the IoT for facility management.

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What Is Facility Planning in Operations Management?

By Dave Clifton
Content & PR Strategist
SpaceIQ

Facility managers are responsible for keeping facilities humming along smoothly. It’s a job that requires day-to-day oversight and the ability to adapt to changing facility needs. But more than that, FMs need the foresight to engage in facility planning.

What is the meaning of facility planning? It’s more than just keeping up with the demands of the workplace. Facility planning is about staying ahead of them. With a forward-looking mindset, facility managers can maximize space, improve the workplace experience, and keep costs low. It all starts by observing current trends and pinpointing the pivotal workplace needs.

The best way to explain the need of facility planning within operations management is to look at it through the lens of fostering efficiency. How can it create efficiency in the context of employees and their work? In budgeting and cost planning? In space utilization and usage? At its core, facility planning is the tool that unlocks efficient operations management.  

The goal: Creating efficiency 

Understanding the importance of facility planning means looking at efficiency. How effectively are you using the space available to you? Are you supporting employee productivity? Where does waste exist within your workplace and what can you do to minimize it? 

The goal of facility planning is to not only recognize opportunities for efficiency, but to anticipate them as well. Alleviating inefficiencies within the workplace has rippling effects across the entire business. For example: 

  • Recognizing workspace is insufficient prevents overcrowding and the dip in productivity that comes with it. It can also serve as the foundation for a cost-saving hot desk or remote work arrangement. 
  • Reviewing vendor contracts helps FMs move to an integrated facilities management approach, consolidating costs and streamlining the property management aspect of facilities oversight.
  • Reviewing occupancy data from an office IoT gives facility managers the data they need to anticipate space requirements for a growing workforce. This supports better planning for expansion costs and logistics. 

In these scenarios and others like them, the emphasis is on facilities planning. The need of facility planning is evident any time there are recognized efficiencies or areas of opportunity. Facility managers observe, understand, and act on key areas to chart future improvements. The goal is to optimize the different facets of business by making improvements to the one thing touching them all: facilities. Efficiency in planning and execution is critical. 

Facility planning objectives 

Looking ahead at facility needs is important, but not without context. Before addressing anything, FMs need core facility planning objectives at the forefront of their observations and decision-making. What are your facility goals? 

  • Keeping costs as low as possible? 
  • Using the workplace to attract talent? 
  • Imbuing a sense of culture and belonging? 
  • Maximizing productivity? 
  • Planning for growth? 
  • Improved space utilization? 

The objectives are likely a combination of all these and more. Order them by importance and assess the impact they’ll have. Then, start looking at what you can do to shift the momentum in the right direction. 

Don’t forget to set benchmarks. Objective improvements are only actualized when you can measure change. Create systems for collecting and measuring data to dictate future facility changes. Whether it’s through the IoT, employee feedback, or financial reporting, tracking the effects of change helps refine future facilities planning. Just make sure benchmarks align with objectives. 

Aspects of facility planning  

Facility planning is as broad in scope as the job duties of facilities managers. As a result, FMs need to align objectives and trends with the different segments of facilities themselves. These include: 

  • People
  • Technologies 
  • Building and landscape 
  • Processes and practices 

Each part of the business contributes to planning. For example, if your goal is to improve space utilization and plan for the futureyou’ll need to observe how it fits into the various aspects of facilities planning. How does space utilization impact people, technology, the building, and your processes? Every facilities planning initiative should be stacked against individual pieces and then considered as part of the whole. 

Looking ahead at how facilities impact operations give businesses an edge for improvement. When you understand how facilities impact your business’ core pillars, it’s possible to work backward, making improvements that facilitate best results. 

The importance of facility planning in operations management 

What is facility planning in operations management? It’s the act of improving facilities to foster continued success in the business. Your facilities touch every part of the business. Planning ahead to means looking thoroughly at facilities and how to improve them. The need of facility planning in operations management is invaluable—a core driver of betterment across the workplace and across the organization.  

Facility planning is like any other mode of planning. You plan for financials and hiring, product development and marketing—why not facilities, too? Facilities are the second-largest cost behind employees. It makes sense to continuously plan for facility evolution. Whether change is a result of demand or careful observation, thorough facilities planning ensures it comes to fruition.

Keep reading: how to select the best facility management software.

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Workplace Thought Leadership

Great Employee Seating

By Laura Woodard
Real Estate Executive (Ret.)
Google

Employee conflict is inevitable in the workplace. There’s always a touch of drama wherever humans congregate. But an overlooked source of workplace tension could be your seating strategy. Your layout can either foster team togetherness or breed frustration. An effective way to minimize discord is to measure space usage and optimize your chosen configuration with a workplace management platform.

Design Influences Behavior (and Stress Levels!)

Human beings are influenced by their surroundings. It’s why some employees thrive in exuberant environments while others flourish in tranquil ones. Finding the right balance between these workstyles, however, is a serious challenge. One type of workplace layout might work wonders for one group but create serious dissatisfaction for another.

Just look at the open office. Removing cubicles and bringing down walls is a great way to combat isolation and encourage collaboration. But what if employees feel compelled to wear headphones to block noise? Your layout is now a source of stress. All that lost momentum, productivity, and concentration will eventually affect your bottom line.

I’ve seen this first hand when a team of software engineers was placed across from a group of recruiters. The only thing separating these two departments were very low cubicle walls. The recruiters wanted a bullpen-style environment on their side because they wanted the noise and the “buzz” from being on the phone all day—it helped their team keep up the high energy needed for their work. But the software engineers couldn’t escape the raucous atmosphere. It was so bad, one of the software engineers had memorized a recruiter’s pitch!

Neighborhoods are another popular workplace environment because teams or departments can be grouped together with supporting amenities. This is really beneficial, for example, if you have an accounting department that works well in a quiet open floor surrounded by a handful of small conference rooms. Everyone has access to the right combination of resources: quiet areas, proximity to colleagues, and huddle spaces.

However, the neighborhood concept can cause discord if it doesn’t fulfill a team’s needs. If an agile team is placed in an area with limited conference rooms, its ability to have scrum meetings is hampered. Employees can then become exasperated when they have to constantly search for a free conference room or a private place for a phone call.

What’s more, all of this time spent hunting for the right work environment comes at a cost. According to a 2018 Steelcase Workplace Survey, 40% of workers waste up to 30 minutes a day looking for a place to collaborate. And the 2017 Office Workplace Survey 2017 by Senion found that “39% of office workers spend as much as 60 minutes every week searching for available desks, conference rooms, or colleagues.”

In all of these examples, space shortages are the primary source of workplace conflict.  When everyone is vying for the same conference rooms, quiet zones, or privacy spaces, congestion is bound to occur. How can employees do their best if they don’t have the right work environment?

Create a Flexibility Layout

It would be fantastic if there was a universal seating strategy that worked for all companies, across all industries, but that’s simply not realistic. Creating a flexible workplace environment starts with digging deep and assessing what your employees truly need. When it comes to space programming, employees actually know best. That requires talking to them, not just their managers.

Because employees are the ones in the proverbial trenches, they are the first to experience friction. It’s important to understand the nuances of their workflow in a given day or week. How many hours are they in meetings versus doing individual work? How many times do they have a spontaneous meeting but can’t find space to collaborate? Is noise welcomed in the background or seen as a major disruption?

Then pair these observations with space usage data—especially for conference rooms. Establish how many meetings were booked, but also how many actually took place. See if you can ascertain if the meetings went over or under the allotted time. It could also be helpful to determine how many times a conference room was booked on the fly rather than in advance.

Once you establish programming patterns, space planning technologies are your friend. A space planning tool allows employees to view available conference rooms and book them with ease. Some software includes a floor plan that shows the proximity of a conference room to all attendees, which is crucial for a workplace that is spread across several floors or an entire campus.

For real estate or human resource managers, a workplace management platform also provides the ability to digitally manipulate layouts. You can run scenarios that forecast the impact of moving individuals or entire departments to a new location. Dynamic planning allows you to evaluate where you have free space and if it will support a team’s workflow.

At the end of the day, flexible seating strategies help diffuse workplace conflict. Everyone can breathe a little easier when they have the right resources to do their work efficiently and effectively. A productive and happy workforce is just a new layout away.

Keep reading: 10 factors shaping office space planning guidelines.