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Four Main Functions of FM

By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
SpaceIQ

The broad scope of facilities management makes it a hard position to define. Where a Sales Manager is directly responsible for managing the performance of salespeople, the functions of facilities management go far beyond “managing facilities.” As a result, it’s often difficult for companies to maximize the advantages of a good facility manager.

But what is the importance of facilities management? To truly understand what a facility manager does, what they’re responsible for, and what effect they have on a company, it’s best to break down their scope of work. That means taking a closer look at the four main pillars of facilities management: People, processes, the building, and technology.

Supporting people

The foremost objective of a facility manager is creating an accommodating work environment for employees. This serves many broader goals, including attracting and retaining top talent, improving efficiency and productivity, and creating a positive workplace culture. Facility managers provide employee support in many ways, including:

  • Coordinating desking arrangements
  • Managing employee directories
  • Facilitating moves and space utilization
  • Handling emergency planning

Facility managers serve as a bridge between the workplace and the employees working within it. Whenever issues of accommodation, safety, or comfort arise, it’s up to the facility manager to solve them.

This applies upward, as well. Facility managers are responsible for providing vital planning data to the C-suite and determining the long-term approach to workplace optimization. Their everyday interaction with the workplace sheds light on true costs and competitive advantages at the employee level.

Establishing processes

What are the functions of facilities management without a process to govern them? Establishing processes brings order to the workplace. Order creates a system of expectations, which breeds organization that positively impacts the way people utilize the workplace. The workplace runs on a multitude of processes, including:

  • Submitting a work order request
  • Reserving space within the facility
  • Checking in guests and visitors
  • Emergency action planning

Facility managers serve the dual role of identifying governance areas and adapting processes to cover them. Whenever a new situation arises, it’s up to the facility manager to create order from chaos and building a repeatable framework for handling that scenario again in the future.

Developing processes is also where the scope of facility management expands its reach. New processes may involve different departments, employees, assets, fixtures, and spaces—all of which connect the many aspects of the business.

Facilities upkeep and improvement

As the name implies, facility management is largely rooted in facilities upkeep and improvement of the physical building. It’s the most common answer when asked, “What does facility management include?”

But this is also the most robust scope of expectations for facility managers. It involves not only tending the building, but cultivating partnerships, future planning, and asset management. Some examples of this broad range of responsibilities include:

  • Finding and maintaining vendor contracts
  • Repair, maintenance, and building improvement
  • Workplace cleaning and décor
  • On- and off-site property management

If it has to do with the physical building, it falls within the facilities manager’s realm. Facilities are the second largest expense behind the workforce—it’s the job of a facility manager to turn the workplace into a competitive advantage, instead of a cost center. It’s about ensuring facilities meet the needs of the people using them.

Technology integration

More important than ever is the need for facilities managers to understand and use technology. Workplace management systems aggregate data, which drives crucial decisions about how to run the business and shape the workplace. Identifying and implementing the right technology is a chief responsibility of facility managers.

Integrating physical technology typically falls on the IT department. However, facilities managers are the first and last word on how they’re selected, used, and leveraged. Some examples of what this looks like in a modern setting include:

  • Researching IoT devices based on data collection needs
  • Integrating IoT devices into everyday facilities processes
  • Determining the cost, ROI, and advantage of smart technologies
  • Using aggregated data to better understand the workplace

Using an Integrated Workplace Management System (read more on what is IWMS software), facility managers can collect and analyze data from networked technologies to get insights about the workplace. This fuels better decision-making on how to optimize the work environment for the people using it.

It’s important to note that not all office tech relies on data collection. Access control systems support safety, while automation tech streamlines processes. And while there’s a data component to any networked device or software, the true benefit of most tech is in its function. It’s up to facility managers to understand and leverage this function for optimal ROI.

Putting it all together for facilities management

Facility managers support workers directly and indirectly. They establish processes for order and organization. They’re charged with upkeep and improvement of the facilities themselves. They create complex integrations to leverage data for success.

When you put these four functions together, they paint a picture of what facility managers really do. Broadly speaking, their focus is on optimizing the workplace to support every aspect of the business it touches. But on a deeper level, it’s about giving the company a steady foundation for success.

Keep reading: Selecting the best facility management software.

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Facilities Management Job Description – What’s Required?

By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
SpaceIQ

The facilities management job description has changed a lot in the last decade. It makes sense why. Facilities themselves have come a long way from the humdrum offices of yesteryear. Today, they take many forms, requiring facilities managers to be a Jack or Jill of all trades.

Understanding the full scope of what’s expected of a facility manager requires a long, hard look at a job description for one. The skills and qualifications paint a picture of an individual ready to play a significant role in everyday business operations. Similarly, the duties and expectations outlined demand a willingness to elevate the entire workplace—all facets of operations. It’s about creating a workplace that supports workers and furthers the company’s mission.

Whether you’re writing a facilities management job description or getting ready to apply for open positions, it’s best to get familiar with what a modern one looks like. Here’s what the job market demands today.

Skills

Skills usually sit atop facilities job descriptions and duties. They’re one of the first things listed, and for good reason. Without a robust set of skills to fall back on, a facility manager hire won’t be able to do what’s expected of them. The right skill set goes a long way in managing the modern workplace.

In-demand capabilities for facility managers are usually a mix of hard and soft skills. There are some things a candidate absolutely needs to know—like how to manage vendor contracts and collect bids on special projects. But there are also skills with give and take. Your ideal candidate might be someone with experience in the Internet of Things (IoT), but someone with peripheral expertise or the willingness to learn may be just as good.

The skills in a facility manager job posting require careful consideration to attract the right candidates. Take a look at a few of the most essential and why they’re firm prerequisites:

  • Interpersonal communication skills are necessary for communicating with employees, upper management, vendors, and guests through email, phone, text, and in-person.
  • Strong analytical skills power decision-making in the modern office. Big Data plays a crucial role in workplace management, making analytical capabilities a premier trait.
  • Leadership skills are the hallmark of a good workplace manager. Taking charge on facility projects and coordinating across teams are both common occurrences.
  • Long-term planning skills help a good facility manager see the forest from the trees and make holistic decisions about facilities with long-term benefits in mind.

The list goes on and on, but these represent the most important skills a candidate needs to bring to the table. Prior experience as a facility manager, familiarity with FM software, and knowledge of the IoT are all positives, as well. Keep in mind that the expectations for a facility manager set the stage for the skills required.

Duties

What are the duties of a facilities manager? That depends on many factors. Company size, number of employees, building locations, and management goals are all pivotal in dictating what’s expected of a facility manager. Most generally, facility managers cover four key workplace aspects:

  • People: Ensuring employees are properly accommodated in a workplace that supports their needs and expectations.
  • Assets and technology: Monitoring and managing the major assets and technologies within the workplace to ensure maximum return on investment.
  • Building and landscaping: Ensuring the building is maintained, improved, and managed, and that vendor partnerships are managed.
  • Processes: Setting up and improving processes that facilitate everyday operations—from maintenance requests to room reservations.

Within these core areas are exponential job duties and tasks. And while many directly correlate to the running of your facilities, it’s up to every business to determine expectations for facilities managers as they relate to greater goals. Examples include getting an IoT system and data collection system up and running, or transitioning to an integrated facilities management model.

Accreditations and certifications

Almost every professional practice has some form of accreditation or certification. Facility management is no different.

Job posts targeting distinguished candidates have callouts for certification by reputable organizations, including the Facility Management Accreditation Commission (FMAC) arm of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). Some of the most common prerequisites include certification as a:

  • Facility Management Professional (FMP)
  • Certified Facility Manager (CFM)
  • Sustainability Facility Professional (SFP)
  • Facilities Management Certificate (FMC)

Often not included in job postings, but just as valuable, are accreditations from the Building Owners and Managers Institute (BOMI), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). All play a vital role in forward-thinking facilities management.

Facilities management for the future

When looking at or writing job descriptions, ask yourself: What does a facilities maintenance manager do? Understanding a facility manager’s fundamental objectives helps you think critically about the information contained within a good job post.

In many ways, facility management is a continuously evolving profession. The job description of today may be different than one from a decade ago, and it’s likely to change again in another 10 years. Whether you’re hiring or trying to get hired, keep this in mind: be smart about establishing a forward-thinking mindset for the position and prepare to adapt as commercial real estate and workforce trends change.

Keep reading: What is a facilities manager? It spans all of these.

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Activity-Based Workplace

By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
SpaceIQ

For businesses looking to consolidate and maximize available commercial real estate, activity-based workspace design is an enticing option. Activity-based workspaces are dynamic and agile. They also support employee productivity, regardless of task or project constraints.

Companies planning to make the transition to activity-based workspaces likely have questions about the efficacy of a new design and its fundamental nature. For answers, they need only to look at some of the biggest companies in the world that have already implemented and proven that activity-based workplace models work.

Activity-based workspaces on the rise

Before looking at real-world examples, it’s important to realize why so many companies have modeled their workplaces after this concept.

In a survey conducted by the CBRE Institute and CoreNet Global, Corporate Real Estate and Facilities (CRE&F) leaders from more than 100 companies were interviewed about activity-based workspaces. Nearly 70% expected to incorporate some degree of activity-based workplace design into their facilities in the near future. Driving this decision are concerns about the rising cost of commercial real estate, strategic alignment with company goals, and a focus on improved workplace collaboration.

Activity-based workplace design provides a one-to-one solution. It also emphasizes productivity, agility, and flexibility—increasingly important business traits in a globalized economy. Take a look at companies around the world that have discovered this firsthand.

Microsoft (Netherlands)

As of July 2019, Microsoft is the only trillion-dollar market cap company on the U.S. stock exchange. It’s a global powerhouse in computer technology and a household name for everything from computing to gaming to cloud services.

Microsoft’s success is certainly attributable to its products, but creating new-age innovations takes an inspired team to produce. The company’s facility in the Netherlands embodies this concept. It’s an activity-based workplace that creates team collaboration and fosters cooperation across all segments of business. Its purposeful design is peppered with concepts that make work itself more enjoyable.

Designed by Veldhoen + Company, the 117,200-square-foot space accommodates 1,000 employees in an open-concept environment. Its core premise is to promote work-life balance, while improving socialization and self-organization. There are no assigned desks, and every area emphasizes transparency, connection, and comfort. Relaxation zones, a coffee shop, and outdoor pavilions promote tranquility within a fast-paced, high-standards environment.

Costa Coffee (England)

Costa Coffee is the second largest coffeehouse chain in the world, focused largely in the United Kingdom. It’s well-known for its unique coffee roasts and incredible brand history, which includes expansion to three continents in 32 countries in just four decades.

The company culture of Costa Coffee is naturally representative of activity-based work and the company’s headquarters is a gem among collaborative workspace design examples. It features callbacks to the company’s roots on Paradise Street in Lambeth, UK, with a classic coffeehouse vibe that sets the tone for each of its 3,400-plus locations.

Designed by Morgan Lovell, Costa Coffee’s headquarters spans just 16,860 square feet, but uses activity-based spaces to maximize every inch. In planning the design, the firm pinpointed a need for meeting spaces, individual workspaces, breakout areas, relaxation space, and executive suites. The plan naturally gravitated to activity-based work. The design theme was a transition from “my desk” to “our space.” Modern furnishings, vivid colors, and welcoming amenities make Costa Coffee’s headquarters the ultimate coffeehouse—a time-proven place people love to work.

Unispace (United States)

A global office design firm, Unispace knows a thing or two about the power of the right workplace floor plan. The company is active in 23 countries, with more than 49 studios supporting over 500 workers. It handles workplace planning and design for startups and Fortune 500 companies alike.

At its Los Angeles, CA location, Unispace took a firsthand approach to selling its services. The office is both a scale model example and a functional space. It shows the power of activity-based working in small spaces. At just 2,700 square feet, it’s slightly bigger than a middle-class home, but extensive in the use of its open concept floor plan.

There are no doors in Unispace’s activity-based concept. Instead, static partitions and creative architecture separate areas and maintain space flow without creating barriers. Disciplines are still separated by proximity, but collaboration is as simple as walking a few feet to another group. It’s a purposeful organization of the company, without siloing employees. There’s no assigned seating and the entire workplace is constantly connected by a robust network of cloud-based technologies.

The case for activity-based space is ever-growing

These are just three real-world examples of activity-based workplaces on different scales. The concept remains the same across each of them, and the results have been astounding for all. Drawing from the governing concepts and strategic elements of these examples, any company can put together an activity-based environment. What matters most is staying true to the principles of collaborative work.

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

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Collaborative Benefits

By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
SpaceIQ

Like any good business decision, the shift to a collaborative workplace should come on the heels of a benefits analysis. Is it worth making changes to the way your employees work? How will they specifically benefit? What’s the value proposition for the company? All are important drivers in the decision-making process. Thankfully, there are no shortage to the perks of collaborative workspaces.

Determining the benefits of a new collaborative floor plan also sets the standard by which you can measure them. When you know what you stand to gain, you can be proactive in measuring it. Take a look at six of the key benefits associated with collaborative workspaces.

1. Better space utilization

Collaborative workspaces bring people together in a shared environment. In doing so, they consolidate the amount of physical space needed to individually accommodate employees. In turn, it reduces cost, maximizes available workspace, and encourages better use of floor space.

Before changing your floor plan, calculate a space utilization rate and benchmark it. Then, look at the pure cost savings of shrinking your space, coupled with the new utilization rate after making the transition.

2. Improved employee socialization

Socialization is key bonus of a collaborative work environment. It’s much easier for employees to get to know one another and develop personal bonds when they share the same immediate workspace. Companies should encourage this type of informal communication, too. The close-knit friendships developed through daily collaboration lend themselves to a higher standard of work, both individually and as a member of the team.

3. Better business agility and flexibility

Collaboration space supports workers as they keep pace with the fast-paced business climate. Employees can tackle tasks quickly alongside peers. The graphic designer can get a copywriter’s input without sending an email. The front-end developer and database engineer can work together on a problem—instead of separately booking a time, date, and location .

Collaborative work environments speed up problem solving and productivity, while helping the business stay flexible and adapt to changing work.

4. Increased productivity and motivation

One of the great benefits of collaboration is the inspirational factor for teams. Isolation is a damper on productivity and motivation. Taking employees out of individual offices restores a team dynamic to the workplace and inspires positive feelings that overtake lethargy. Instead of struggling to stay awake in the early afternoon and counting the minutes until the end of the workday, employees in a group are more apt to stay engaged and alert.

Employees who are surrounded by others being productive is also a great source of motivation. The drive to contribute and pull their weight, as well as distinguish themselves as a valuable team member, is a force for betterment for many workers.

5. Pooled talent and insight

Collaborative workspaces are often purposefully diverse. The cross-exposure of skills, knowledge, and job duties highlights how employees’ work impacts the workplace a whole. The more workers know about their peers’ responsibilities and contributions, the more it improves their own jobs. Slowly, this streamlines work and encourages personal professional development.

Pooled talent also plays a role in problem solving. As the name implies, a collaborative workspace is an opportunity to attack problems at all angles and levels. It’s a real-world example of the old adage “more hands make less work.” The more people collaborating on a problem, the quicker the best possible resolution will arise.

6. More emphasis on workplace culture

Workplace culture is important, and largely determined by employee sentiment. Grouping people closer together and encouraging daily collaboration have a profound effect on how workplace culture is shaped. Socialization, problem-solving, and talent-pooling create a close-knit group that’s more likely to hold true to the values it deems important. Suddenly, your workforce becomes a community.

Companies that recognize collaboration’s effect on culture and embrace the ideals of its workforce will see positive growth. Strong culture attracts and retains workers, fosters positive sentiment at work, and encourages meaningful contribution.

Benchmark and grow through collaboration

These benefits are only afforded to companies that correctly approach collaborative floor plans. Identifying the benefits of collaborative workspaces is the first step. Understand how your employees and the business stand to prosper from the change. Then, communicate those ideals to encourage employee buy-in.

Don’t forget to benchmark the variables your business is seeking to improve—then measure against them over time. To what degree has collaboration improved X at your company? Realize that simply making the switch to collaborative workspaces isn’t always enough. Tweak and change the way your workplace functions or how your spaces are organized. Refine the way collaboration is executed to reap the best possible results.

Keep reading: learn the ins and outs on “what is a collaborative workspace“?

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Desk Sharing Rules

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

Shared desking requires rules. Desk sharing guidelines represent the divide between an organized, flexible work environment and one that’s prone to friction, chaos, and stunted productivity. Rules keep everyone on the same page and set acceptable standards.

As you consider a transition to shared desking, evaluate these eight important desk sharing rules and how they’ll affect the stability of your new office arrangement.

  1. Leave no trace. It’s important that the end of the day results in a full reset of the workspace by the last person to use it. Create a checklist or standard practices sheet to remind employees of what a baseline reset looks like. Things like emptying trash, turning off devices, and wiping down the desk are standard.
  2. Silence devices. Noise control is central in any desking sharing policy. Because the workspace is open, disruptions are more plentiful. Having employees silence their devices and respect loudness rules helps nip avoidable disruptions in the bud. It’s also conducive to general etiquette. The workplace doesn’t have to be silent, but it should maintain a noise level appropriate for everyone. For employees sensitive to distractions, consider recommending or providing headphones.
  3. Bring your own equipment. Employees transitioning from more traditional workspaces may be accustomed to keeping oft-used items at their desks. With shared desks, they’ll need to be cognizant of the supplies they bring with them. Encourage workers to think proactively about equipment so they don’t bother those around them or go without. Conversely, make sure to provide the basics—items you expect every employee to have and use.
  4. Be friendly. There’s no place for a sourpuss in a collaborative work environment. Successful desk sharing stems from positive attitudes and the willingness to be social. Common courtesy is a staple in desk sharing environments, and “please” and “thank you” go a long way. On the reciprocal side, employees should make it a point to positively welcome desk mates and neighbors.
  5. Observe hygienic practices. Personal hygiene is a must in any shared environment. Because shared desks are an intimate space, it’s especially important. Good personal grooming and hygienic habits are top of the list. General workspace cleanliness is close behind. Cover topics like food, behavior, and general etiquette as part of your shared desk hygiene policy. Hygiene is a sensitive issue, so an anonymous complaint system is usually a smart idea. It allows managers to address discreetly hygienic concerns.
  6. Know your space boundaries. Delineate clearly within your desk sharing policy what constitutes personal space and public space. Especially if your desking options are non-traditional, make the boundaries known. This prevents employees from spreading out too far and impeding other workspaces, or stepping on the toes of nearby workers. As a bonus, it’s also useful in determining the square footage allotment for each shared desk for space planning purposes.
  7. Socialize where and when appropriate. While shared desks foster a collaborative, social environment, make sure there are rules about where socialization is recommended. Having social areas reminds workers that others using desks around them may be hard at work—whereas people in a more social area may have time to chat. Don’t be too prohibitive with socialization rules or you’ll squash one of the biggest benefits of shared desking: camaraderie.
  8. Be mindful of illness. An open, collaborative office environment is a playground for germs. Plan ahead for cold and flu season. Encourage ill employees to stay home and have plenty of tissues and hand sanitizer available to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. It’s not a bad idea to schedule more frequent office cleanings during peak illness months and work out special arrangements with sick employees to work remotely.

An important tip to keep in mind is having a way to reinforce these rules. It’s advisable to delegate authority to an office manager or facility manager. They can resolve disputes, maintain order, and prevent troublesome habits from arising around how shared desks are used. They’re also the perfect option to report on trends and feedback regarding the evolution of the shared desk environment.

These eight rules, in conjunction with an officer to maintain order, are the keys to building a shared desking environment that works.

Keep reading: hot desking problems – including solutions and how to prevent them.

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Collaboration Tools

By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
SpaceIQ

Business success is built around a great team. Employees who work well together achieve great things. But to work seamlessly side-by-side, your team needs the right collaboration tools—especially if they don’t all work in the same place at the same time.

Finding the best collaboration tools for business involves drilling down into the individual segments of cloud computing. It’s important to give employees the resources they’d have if they did sit next to one another. More importantly, you need to provide them with these tools in a way that connects their efforts as a whole.

Here’s a quick dive into some of the best collaboration tools for business across each segment of cloud computing and how they’ll help your team find success.

File editing platforms

  • G-Suite: One of the earliest and most widely adopted business communication tools, G-suite is the bread and butter of many businesses. Google Docs, Sheets, Presentations, and other apps offer real-time editing and input.
  • Dropbox Paper: Dropbox Paper is a tie-in to Dropbox’s cloud storage platform. It’s a great way to annotate files, leave collaborative notes, and work together on a document or project with all your resources on-hand.
  • Evernote: Evernote is one of the simplest collaborative applications, and also one of the most robust. It supports just about any type of media you need to document, with cross-collaboration that’s easily controlled by who you share notes with.

Messaging applications

  • Slack: Slack is a powerhouse among company communication tools. Organize messaging into topic-specific threads, invite coworkers to relevant conversations, and share files. It’s the messaging app every business needs.
  • Microsoft Teams: Teams is Microsoft’s equivalent to Slack, with seamless tie-in to Microsoft’s full suite of programs. For companies using Outlook and OneDrive, Teams is an alternative to Slack with nearly identical features.
  • Zoom: Messaging isn’t just a text platform anymore. In the age of remote work, video and audio are equally as important. Zoom’s platform was specifically built for multimedia conferencing, making it easy to video chat or join a call with dozens of individuals at once.

Cloud storage repositories

  • Dropbox: Dropbox is one of the original business cloud file storage platforms. As a result, it has integrations, tie-ins, and support for just about every other piece of software your business might use. It’s simple interface and superb security make Dropbox the favorite enterprise application.
  • Box: Box offers the same concept as Dropbox, but with more native apps to improve team collaboration within the platform. Box is also less expensive and offers more flexible plans for smaller teams. Permissions sharing in Box also tends to be very robust, making it easy to loop in third-party partners and clients on specific repositories.
  • Google Drive: If you’re using G-Suite, Google Drive is already an active part of your business computing experience. Google’s cloud storage platform is free with an email address, extremely secure, lightning fast, and very easy to navigate. Permissions can get tricky, but the native file viewer makes Google Drive worth using.

Project management programs

  • Wrike: If you’ve got tasks to assign across team members, Wrike is one of the better task collaboration tools out there. In fact, we use it at SpaceIQ. It’s got everything required to create detailed tasks, delegate, track progress, and measure results. All that, and a user-friendly navigation system.
  • Asana: Asana helps teams prioritize goals, stay on-task, and collaborate across all parts of a project. List, timeline, calendar, and accomplishment views let employees pick their perspective on work, while in-app messaging and integrations bring the project together one step at a time.
  • Trello: Trello uses “cards” to collect tasks under a single project header. Each card is assigned to someone, who manages it as part of the larger project. It’s a visual take on project collaboration. Plus, there are tons of high-profile tie-ins that make Trello an instant asset within your digital app ecosystem.

Calendar software

  • Microsoft Outlook: The old standard, and for good reason. Outlook is an email-calendar client all-in-one. Many businesses utilize Outlook for email, making its calendar component a natural fit. That, and the fact it’s incredibly easy to use, intuitive, and directly integrated into your email and address book.
  • Google Calendar: In all the ways Microsoft Outlook is convenient and accessible, so is Google Calendar. Where Google has the edge is in its usability, which features numerous custom options for creating events, integrating with other cloud services, and recognizing appointments sent to your Gmail account.
  • Calendly: For a calendar that’s not bundled with email or other software, Calendly is a simple, intuitive choice. Calendly makes a great collaborative calendar, allowing users to sync their calendars to find common free time for meetings. Calendly also has smart scheduling tools to connect users within the same group, as well as outside contacts.

Every year brings new cloud-based collaborative software startups. What’s hot this year may be supplanted by something even better next year. What matters now is that your suite of collaborative applications enables your team to achieve success today.

Keep reading: Five team communication tools your workplace needs.

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Desk Sharing

Quick Tips: How to Make Desk Sharing Work

By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
SpaceIQ

The concept of desk sharing can upset the balance of even the happiest workplace. Companies often believe their employees will clash over where, how, and when desks are used. Employees tend to fear the idea of a nomadic office, where they ultimately have no home. Both fears are valid, but easily addressed with the right desk sharing setup.

Yanking the rug out from under employees with a desking shuffle is likely to create panic and chaos. Likewise, being too rigid about desk usage often eliminates the point of a shared desk arrangement. The approach needs to be somewhere in the middle—a happy medium between rigidity and office anarchy.

What is desk sharing?

Desk sharing’s definition is in its name. Instead of coming to work and walking to the same desk every day, employees can choose their workspace. There are many methods of execution. Some involve employees claiming a desk outright, while others rely on desk reservation systems.

Like most new-wave office concepts, the idea is to take employees out of their “silos” and encourage them to comingle homogeneously.

The motivation behind desk sharing is better space utilization and lower costs for the business. For employees, it’s meant to eliminate the droll, repetitious concept of doing the same thing every day. Desk sharing offers the flexibility both sides need to function better, while promoting a positive, healthy workplace culture.

Desk sharing pros and cons

If the line between effective desk sharing at work and total workplace disruption is so thin, why chance it? Simple. The benefits of a successful desk sharing arrangement far outweigh the negatives. Let’s put them in perspective.

Pros

  • Saves space and lower space utilization costs
  • Creates new collaboration opportunities among coworkers
  • Improves workplace culture and employee wellbeing
  • Helps attract and retain talent
  • Increases business flexibility and worker agility
  • Supports a flexible workforce (remote, part-time, contractor)
  • Encourages a social workplace
  • Incentivizes employees to be tidier and cleaner
  • Levels the playing field in an office, creating equality

Cons

  • Lacks personal, private space for employees
  • Results in more disruptions to work
  • Creates challenges for IT and support infrastructure
  • Takes employees longer to get settled and working
  • Promotes formation of cliques and territories

Managed properly, the cons are easily minimized, managed, or eliminated altogether. There’s tremendous incentive to make shared desking arrangements work.

How to make shared desks work

Making shared desks work isn’t a superhuman feat—it just relies on paying attention to the details. Here are a few tips for a proper transition to shared desks:

  • Get buy-in from employees well before the changeover. Explain the benefits and field concerns in an open forum to foster positive sentiment.
  • Actively address employee concerns beyond listening to them. Target pain points with innovative solutions and present them to employees. Responsible oversight can make the change easier.
  • Determine the number of shared desks you’ll need, then budget for more. Consider the number of employees, the shifts they work, and other variables that affect occupancy. It may seem counterintuitive to cost-cutting, but extra desks ensure everyone has one during peak times.
  • Create rules and guidelines to cover shared desk etiquette. This can stop bad habits and friction-inducing problems before they manifest. It’s also a great way to set the tone for what employees can expect from their new desking arrangement.
  • Make the change gradual. Up-ending your entire office in a week won’t allow employees to transition or adapt. Delegate a set number of desks to convert over a period of time and lean into the transition. It’s less abrupt and gives employees time to get familiar.
  • Create a variety of desk types and locations, as well as supplemental workspaces outside of shared desks. Employees shouldn’t feel boxed in by a lack of space. Provide options to improve utilization rates.
  • Delegate authority to an office manager or facility manager. Creating a central authority for disputes and questions gives employees the comfort of having a final word on any uncertainties that may arise.
  • Create a funnel for feedback about the shared desking arrangement. What do employees like or dislike? What isn’t meeting their needs or expectations? How could the arrangement be improved? Make the arrangement an ongoing forum.

These tips can help you avoid everything from workplace friction to the outright rejection of shared desks by your workforce. However, remain cognizant of how your workforce adjusts and adapts to shared desks. Keeping this arrangement successful depends on meeting ongoing challenges as they arise.

Avoid the pitfalls of desk sharing

The pitfalls of shared desks are few, but critical. Poorly executed shared desks can topple major pillars of your workplace—productivity, culture, and comfort. Proper execution is key. Ongoing adaptation is another. Consistent employee sentiment and recognition of relevant trends are the others. Together, they make shared desking work

Shared desking is a proven, positive workplace arrangement that offers measurable benefits. To capitalize on it, make sure you’re laying the right foundation and avoiding some of the common pitfalls that can sink this concept before it has a chance to return value.

Keep reading: what is flexible workspace?

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Collaboration Software

By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
SpaceIQ

The traditional workplace is going the way of the dinosaur. In fact, the way we imagine offices is still evolving at a rapid pace. Today’s office floor plan may change tomorrow, and employees may find themselves developing new work habits as a result. There’s a lot riding on change. Thankfully, collaboration software offers a beacon of stability in an environment of uncertainty.

Collaboration software connects employees to work and each other, no matter what the landscape of their workplace looks like. Someone in a cubicle can work just as well as someone at a coworking space, coffee shop, or even another country. Collaboration software grounds us in a time where, how, and when we work is in flux.

Cloud-based collaboration

The cloud is a big part of the upheaval in today’s workplaces. As soon as workers became untethered from their desks, the workplace was free to evolve. Fewer occupied desks required less office space, so workspaces shrunk. Smaller offices forced better space utilization, which birthed activity-based workspaces, hot desks, and the like. At the extreme, some companies have all-remote workforces.

While the cloud enabled this evolution, team collaboration software ensured its effectiveness. The cloud is only an infrastructure; collaboration software offers the resources and tools to make work flexible. In the same way email displaced inter-office memos, collaboration software is eliminating enterprise software workstation licensing models. Apps and data aren’t on one machine—they’re wherever workers need them to be. More importantly, they’re easily accessed at-scale and shared by individuals, teams, and groups.

Collaboration software types

Collaboration software is a broad term. Under this umbrella are the many types of collaboration resources necessary to keep a business running while its employees are scattered. To run as seamlessly as if the entire team was in-house, businesses need to invest in the best collaboration software across each resource subsection:

  • File editing platforms: Employees need robust online editing tools. Real-time changes, multi-user collaboration, file exports, and tier user permissions are staples of modern file editing platforms.
  • Messaging applications: Messaging is a multimedia concept. Quick snippets of text, video chatting, and audio conference calls play integral roles in maintaining good communication across a fragmented workforce.
  • Cloud storage repositories: The foundation of the cloud is access to critical files and data anywhere, at any time. Storage platforms are hubs for broad user access—the file cabinets of the digital workplace. Text, video, audio, graphics, photos, and any other type of digital collateral are shared, downloaded, and used with ease.
  • Project planning programs: There’s no project manager looking over the shoulder of employees anymore. Now, they’re beholden to project planning software. These cloud-based programs foster team collaboration in pursuit of a common goal, no matter who’s involved, what their role is, or when they choose to work.
  • Calendar software: With the demise of the traditional office has come the disappearance of the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday. For companies with national or international interests, work happens when it’s most appropriate—whether that’s 9-5 or 2-10. The cloud-based calendar is a cornerstone of any collaborative software suite, coordinating everyone’s efforts.

Cloud availability is a development standard these days. It’s safe to say virtually every piece of software a business may need is equipped to support collaborative use across a diverse workforce. With integrations tying popular software and platforms together, companies can create a suite of collaborative resources to power their business.

Making work more accessible and convenient

Collaborative workspace software brings the concept of a workplace into the digital realm. A departmental meeting no longer needs a conference room; a group video chat will suffice. Email chains don’t need to include dozens of people and eclipse dozens of replies; everyone can add their feedback to a shared document. Employees don’t need to dig through file folders to find old client collateral; it’s all labeled and organized in a cloud repository.

While the physical workplace still holds merit for many companies, the gap between what can and can’t be done at work is growing smaller. The power of cloud-hosted collaborative software makes work accessible and efficient among work groups of all sizes—from individuals to teams  to departments and company-wide.

In many ways, the workplace isn’t shrinking or losing importance. It’s actually growing larger and more robust. When anywhere can be a workplace thanks to collaborative software, anyone has the power to work at any time. Collaboration software is fueling a professional revolution—one bigger than any single workplace.

Keep reading: team communication tools your workplace needs.

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Coworking Benefits

By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
SpaceIQ

The cost of office space is rising. Globalization has created a 24-hour business cycle at the same time work-life balance tops the list of employee demands. These factors now govern the way modern businesses think about their workplaces. To remain competitive and successful, companies need to cultivate a workplace that supports these trends. Or, they can recognize coworking benefits and leave the struggle of workspace optimization to someone else.

Many companies are exploring the benefits of coworking and are seeing the broad-ranging possibilities of transitioning employees to remote workspaces. Coworking not only brings much-needed flexibility to the physical challenges of office space, but also to how employees do work. Coworking is a natural solution to outsourcing office space.

The roots of the coworking movement

The benefits of coworking—and the movement in general—date back to 1995. Originally called “hackerspaces,” early coworking hubs catered to programmers and coders looking to collaborate on the next great program. Hackerspaces were more than a collective, communal destination. They popularized innovative concepts like standing desks and flexible workspaces.

It wasn’t until 2005 when a software engineer named Brad Neuberg coined the term “co-working” that the movement officially took off. Nueberg founded the San Francisco Coworking Space as a way to re-create his own work environment and opened it up to others for a flat monthly fee. His idea was a hit and soon spawned similar spaces in major metropolitan areas across the country, including New York and Los Angeles. By 2012, there were more than 2,000 such spaces.

Coworking has come a long way in a short time—more than just losing the hyphen in Nueburg’s original terminology. Today, there are dozens of major coworking companies that offer flexible workspaces to hundreds of thousands of professionals every day. And the movement continues to grow. The reason lies in the many benefits of coworking.

The benefits of coworking

Most coworking space benefits are obvious, but some are more tangential. Take a look at why smart companies are transitioning employees to remote work sites and buying coworking memberships:

  • Cost: Match up the monthly cost of a commercial lease against the average seat cost at a coworking space and the numbers speak for themselves. Paired with better utilization of existing space and coworking becomes even more cost-effective.
  • Flexibility: Employees can more easily acclimate themselves easier to non-traditional work schedules outside the office. Coworking spaces provide the structure of a typical workplace without the rigidity of traditional hours.
  • Network: Businesses rely on partnerships. Coworking spaces offer exposure to professionals from all walks of life. They can share skills, resources, and business opportunities. Not only is this advantageous to employees, it’s a boon for their business if new affiliations lead to partnerships.
  • Productivity: Letting employees work on their own time, in their own way, is key in unlocking their fullest productivity potential. Just be sure to set clear standards and goals, leaving the path to them open to interpretation. Remote workers will gravitate to coworking spaces as the place where they can focus on work.
  • Comfort: Comfort is central to coworking, not only in the physical sense, but cognitively as well. Well-furnished spaces with unique ambiance put workers at ease, while lack of inter-office politicking and forced participation relax the mind. Coworking delivers the peace needed to focus on the work.

Delving deeper, companies and employees alike benefit from so much more. A great example is the phenomenon of cloud migration. Before employees can work remotely, they need access to the tools and resources available to them in the office. Heralding the shift to coworking is a mass migration away from classic enterprise software to more intuitive cloud-based platforms. This “out with the old, in with the new” mentality has unlocked an entire subset of benefits associated with modern software and cloud computing.

There’s also coworking benefits around talent attraction and employee satisfaction. Employees who are happy with their freedom and contributions have a higher opinion of their employer and career. This happiness attracts other skilled professionals and fosters a positive company culture—all without ever stepping foot in a traditional office.

The demand for coworking is growing

The benefits of coworking spaces covers a wide breadth. It often creates a happy medium in the face of tumultuous alternatives, like shaking up the office floor plan or geographically transferring employees. In some cases, it may even reduce costs enough to prevent downsizing.

At its core, coworking is much more than a trend. It’s the workplace’s next evolution, and demand is growing. Current projections put the pace of the industry at 26,000 new coworking spaces by 2022! And, as Fortune 100 and multinational companies lead the migration, it’s clear the benefits of coworking are true and validated.

Keep reading: What is coworking? We take a look into the future of coworking.