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The Broad Benefits of Technology in the Workplace

By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
SpaceIQ

No matter what company you work for or what industry you’re in, your workplace is steeped in technological marvels. The smartphone, tablet, or computer you’re reading this article on is proof of that. The benefits of technology in the workplace are broad, but we’ve become so familiar with them that we need to remember what we’re capable of doing because of technology.

Take something as simple as CC’ing 10 people on an email instead of printing 10 copies of a memo and sending it through interoffice mail. It’s an everyday thing, but nonetheless amazing in context.

Look at any digital innovation and you’ll immediately see the impact of technology in the workplace. But we tend to think about it in terms of execution—how technology has changed the process. What are the advantages of technology in the workplace? To understand them, and to see how important technology is, look past the process and focus on the results.data-driven-workplace

  • Develops efficiency: Look at the efficiency of email vs. snail mail, cloud vs. in-person collaboration, automated room booking vs. user-coordinated reservations. The list of technology-driven efficiencies is endless. Technology is designed to make work easier, and efficiency—a chief driver of technological innovation—is a natural byproduct.
  • Makes work faster: There’s a difference between efficiency and speed. Workplace technology gives us both, and we need to appreciate them separately. Businesses need only look at their value stream to see technological speed at work. Technology reduces the time it takes us to do X by automating Y and Z. The result is faster time to market, faster realization of profit, and faster reinvestment into the value stream.
  • Introduces uniformity: Technology operates on an input-output framework. This makes it easy for businesses to control both, creating consistency and uniformity in the workplace. Take a badging system, for example. Badges create uniformity across groups, allowing and denying them access where appropriate. Marketing’s badges allow access to floors one and two; Accounting’s to three; Sales to four and five; and executive badges to all floors. Every person gets to where they need to go because technology governs the input-output.
  • Opens up communication: Email, instant messaging, and video chats make communication simple, no matter the situation. You can message someone across the world in seconds as easily as you can simultaneously video conference with five people in different time zones. This level of communication fosters everything from quicker decision-making to better relationships among coworkers, partners, and prospects.
  • Encourages creativity: With collaboration and communication comes a natural inclination toward creativity. Technology stimulates creativity by giving individuals an outlet for their ideas. It could be as simple as using Pinterest to put together a mood board for a client or using a smartboard during a brainstorming session. Or, it’s more indirect, like allowing groups to automatically book a collaborative space where they can talk freely about their ideas. Technology serves as the basis for an outpouring of creativity.
  • Improves adaptability: The speed and information technology affords us has led to adaptable workplaces. Entire teams can assess and respond to situations and changes in minutes, without falling off track or veering off course. Even beyond the speed of adaptability, the potential to find new, better solutions has also improved. Technology helps us make the best adjustment—not just the most obvious one.
  • Enhances comfort: Technology breeds comfort in a roundabout way. Consider the smart thermostat that automatically adjusts to the optimal workplace temperature or the occupancy sensor that determines the ideal configuration for a space. These technologies create comfort in their own way—comfort that leads to better productivity, improved mood, and better focus.
  • Increases profits: Combine efficiency, quickness, comfort, and other benefits of technology and you’ll see real results for your bottom line. Technology increases profits. Need proof? Look at the broad adoption of new technologies as they come to market. There’s great demand for technology because it eliminates waste and uncertainty, which trickles back in the form of cost savings and revenues. Technologies end up paying for themselves.

The importance of technology in the workplace is in its ability to shape how we work. It’s fine to marvel at today’s technologies and look at how far we’ve come. But what’s more important is looking ahead, at what technologies will herald new amazing workplace transformations. Innovations like the IoT, machine learning, 5G, and automation are here, changing how we do what we do right before our eyes. What benefits will these technologies bring? More of the same, or something brand new?

Keep reading: Technological Determinism Yields to User Determinism.

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Five Innovative Workplace Practices

By Nai Kanell
Director of Marketing
SpaceIQ

Silicon Valley is synonymous with innovation. Many of the world’s foremost tech companies are born and raised here—along with disruptive, innovative workplace practices. It’s a high-pressure environment, which facilitates the need for adaptive work habits. As a result, the workplace innovations that come out of Silicon Valley are usually tried and true, forged in fire.

Companies looking to stay ahead of the competition and keep pace with rapid industry trends need to embrace change. That starts by fostering an innovative workplace. Beyond finding ways to streamline what you’re already doing, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re not doing. Here are a few tried, tested, and proven ideas for innovation in the workplace, straight from the Silicon Valley kiln.

1. Scrum early and often

Every day presents new challenges, so it’s a smart idea to start the work day by addressing them. Scrums—led by scrum masters—are an agile process where small teams come together to review and address problems or challenges. It’s a fast-paced, collaborative situation with one specific focus: come away with an action plan.

Designating scrum masters and leading scrums daily is a smart way to keep focus on what matters. Constant assessment and open collaboration can prevent small problems from becoming bigger or known challenges from thwarting larger goals. It’s a great way to bring the workplace together, encourage teamwork, and inspire culture.

Companies can also use the scrum as an accountability tool. If yesterday’s problems linger today, what happened? What problems persist? Who’s responsible for what part of the solution?

2. Encourage agility through mobility

Gone are the days of employees spending eight hours seated in the same place. You have an entire workplace—it’s time to start using it. Companies need to adopt an agile mindset and encourage their employees to become dynamic, instead of static. They can work independently at their desk, collaborate with peers in a different space, spend time at a hot desk for a change of scenery, and find inspiration in an experiential setting.

Configure your workplace to accommodate constant motion; then, let people know it’s okay to stand up and move around. The more comfortable they become with a dynamic workplace, the more adaptable your workforce becomes. Expanding beyond their desk also expands their comfort zone. They’re better-able to roll with the punches and adjust to the unknown, instead of being trapped in a stagnant routine.

3. Make remote work seamless

Employees have always coveted remote work as a perk. Now, it’s becoming a standard. Companies need to not only embrace remote workers, they need to empower them. This means investing in cloud technologies and reinvented processes. Video chat, cloud collaboration platforms, instant messaging, secure file access, and more are all top priorities—as are the methods for involving remote workers in daily operations.

Employees need to feel like they’re still part of the team and an active contributor to success—even when they’re doing it from home, a coffee shop, or a coworking space. Make sure the contributions of remote staff are as seamless as the transition from in-office to mobile work.

4. Foster interdepartmental synergy

One of the biggest keys to successfully improving the modern office has been to take data out of silos and look at the workplace holistically. Why not do the same for your human capital? The more Marketing knows about Sales, the better they can support them. The same holds true for countless other business segments. Fostering an interdepartmental synergy has profound effects—not just on how the workplace operates, but on the greater success of the company.

There are many ways to improve relationships across business segments. Consider creative seating arrangements like desk neighborhoods or pods, which may include different personnel. There’s also the concept of interdepartmental meetings about broad business objectives. Create situations for departments to rely on each other and watch as these collaborations become fundamental drivers of workplace improvement.

5. Appropriate the hackathon mindset

Hackathons are another popular concept in Silicon Valley. The theme is usually one of the following: break it, do it better, or solve a problem. Smart companies are wise to adopt a similar line of thinking.

Encourage your employees to consider their workplace. Then, tell them to break it, do it better, or solve a problem. The results can be eye-opening! Someone might identify a legacy process that’s inefficient, showing exactly why it’s broken. Another person might show you exactly how to do it better. Someone else might offer up a solution to a problem you didn’t even know existed. The hackathon mindset is a form of innovation itself. It’s the constant pursuit of improvement at the hands of your employees.

Keep striving for innovation

Why is innovation important in the workplace? Because it keeps business in the habit of adapting. No matter what’s new or next, innovative workplaces find a way to thrive. Putting these five practices into effect in your workplace will get your team in the right mindset for success.

Keep reading: Innovative Ideas for Facility Management.

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A Guide to Smart Building Challenges

The Internet of Things (IoT) is booming, growing rapidly thanks to the rise of smart buildings. We use the IoT to make our buildings smarter, and the smarter we make them, the more efficient they become. In addition, smart buildings help us assess the workplace quantitatively, discovering new ways to work better.

What is a smart building?

Smart Building Definition: Any structure that uses automated processes to automatically control the building’s operations, including HVAC, lighting, security, and others, maximizing user comfort while minimizing energy consumption.

Smart buildings are connected to the cloud, allowing facilities managers to set up automation and interact with them digitally. The purpose of smart building technology is to enhance the function of the physical space itself and better serve those using it.

Smart building examples might include something as simple as having automated lights or as complex as floor sensors to determine real-time room occupancy. Today’s intelligent building technologies span almost every element of facilities, from lighting and HVAC to air quality and occupancy. Sensors, beacons, and software ecosystems come together in the IoT to form the smart building.

Why opt for smart building?

Smart building technology makes life and work easier in the following ways:

  • Comfort for occupants with controlled lighting, temperature, and humidity
  • Automated control of a building’s HVAC, lighting, electrical, shading, access, and security systems
  • Cost optimization with analyzing building usage patterns and adjusting
  • Reduced environmental impact by analyzing indoor and outdoor environmental conditions, occupants’ behavior, and other data that can optimize energy and water consumption
  • Integration capabilities with the ability to be embedded into older structures
  • Preventative maintenance by analyzing real-time and historical equipment data
  • Enhanced health and well-being with access to control systems and improving indoor air quality through efficient HVAC operation

The investment in a smart building eventually pays for itself by enabling higher productivity, lower workplace costs, and better planning opportunities. But these benefits don’t appear by magic. It takes time, money, and knowledge to implement the IoT and understand how to leverage a smart building. The challenges are diverse, and many companies are still figuring them out.

Cost of acquisition

Cost is always an obstacle when new technologies come into the field. For smart building, it’s not only the cost of the devices needed to establish the IoT but also SaaS, installation, and training costs. Finding room in the budget for one-time and ongoing fees isn’t easy, and it becomes more difficult for larger facilities or robust integrations.

To adopt the IoT and create smart buildings, companies need to master budgeting and make a meaningful allocation to innovation.

Cybersecurity concerns

Smart buildings are the epitome of Big Data. Their entire premise hinges on detecting and collecting data that’s used to improve the workplace. But where there’s data, there are cybersecurity concerns. Every device connected to the IoT is a potential entryway for a malicious attack. Before companies branch out their IoT and begin collecting huge sums of data, cybersecurity takes precedence.

Thankfully, cloud cybersecurity is gaining momentum alongside the IoT. As a result, it’s getting easier to secure data — especially for companies that make common-sense digital practices a priority.

Getting stakeholder buy-in

Not everyone in your company will see the value of intelligent building technology. Many high-level stakeholders may see it negatively—an unnecessary expense or a complicated commodity with more minuses than positives. It’s up to facility managers and other innovators to make a case for smart building IoT solutions, and often, it’s an uphill battle. Even for considerate stakeholders, it may take time to convince them the investment is worth it.

The best thing any company can do is reflect on the growing body of data, case studies, and practical examples showing how the IoT produces cost savings and other high-priority benefits.

Understanding integrations

The IoT is complex. Think of it as trying to piece together a puzzle with no picture to work from. You know certain pieces fit here and there, and you can start to see the bigger picture as you connect a few, but the larger image doesn’t come into focus until you’ve got a majority of it all worked out. It’s slow-going and there’s some guesswork involved. A company might not understand the smart building integrations it has or the ones it needs until it has dabbled for a while.

The best way to approach a smart building transition is to understand it. Understand the IoT in a practical sense. Then, understand the nature of integrations and set up simple ones. As the purpose and practicality of the IoT becomes clearer, so will the picture of your smart building.

Education and responsibility

Even if a company has the financial means and forward-thinking mindset to embrace smart facilities, there’s still the question of who will manage them. Whose job is it to manage integrations and establish reporting? Decipher trends and opportunities? Optimize the IoT around specific business goals? Getting someone formally trained and familiar with smart building technologies takes time and money.

Facility managers are more important than ever, especially those with IoT experience. Before a company can fully embrace smart building tech, it needs to enlist and train a facility manager.

Smart buildings take time to plan

To realize the benefits of smart buildings, companies need to understand the obstacles in front of them. From learning how to use a smart building technology, to tasking someone to set up and manage integrations, to getting stakeholder buy-in — these unique challenges need attention. Taking the time to address each, in turn, paves the way for a smart building you understand and can use to make your business better.

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The Top Challenges for Creating Smart Buildings

By Dave Clifton

Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

The Internet of Things (IoT) is booming, growing at a rapid pace thanks to the rise of smart buildings. We use the IoT to make our buildings smarter, and the smarter we make them, the more efficient they become. Smart buildings help us assess the workplace quantitatively, discovering new ways to work better.

What is a smart building?

Smart buildings are connected to the cloud and allow facilities managers to set up automations and interact with them digitally. The purpose of smart buildings is to enhance the function of the physical space itself and better serve those using it.

Smart building examples might include something as simple as having automated lights or as complex as floor sensors to determine real-time room occupancy. Today’s smart building technologies span almost every element of facilities, from lighting and HVAC to air quality and occupancy. Sensors, beacons, and software ecosystems come together in the IoT to form the smart building.

The investment in a smart building eventually pays for itself by enabling higher productivity, lower workplace costs, and better planning opportunities. But these benefits don’t appear by magic. It takes time, money, and knowledge to implement the IoT and understand how, exactly, to leverage a smart building. The challenges are diverse, and many companies are still figuring them out.

1. Challenge: Cost of acquisition

Cost is always an obstacle when new technologies come into the field. For smart buildings, it’s not only the cost of the devices needed to establish the IoT, but also SaaS, installation, and training costs. Finding room in the budget for one-time and ongoing fees isn’t easy, and it becomes more difficult for larger facilities or robust integrations.

To adopt the IoT and create smart buildings, companies need to master budgeting and make a meaningful allocation to innovation.

2. Challenge: Cybersecurity concerns

Smart buildings are the epitome of Big Data. Their entire premise hinges on detecting and collecting data that’s used to improve the workplace. But where there’s data, there’s cybersecurity concerns. Every device connected to the IoT is a potential entryway for a malicious attack. Before companies branch out their IoT and begin collecting huge sums of data, cybersecurity takes precedence.

Thankfully, cloud cybersecurity is gaining momentum alongside the IoT. It’s getting easier to secure data—especially for companies that make common-sense digital practices a priority.

3. Challenge: Getting stakeholder buy-in

Not everyone in your company will see the value of a smart building. In fact, many high-level stakeholders may see it negatively—an unnecessary expense or a complicated commodity with more minuses than positives. It’s up to facility managers and other innovators to make the case for smart buildings, and often, it’s an uphill battle. Even for considerate stakeholders, it may take time to convince them the investment is worth it.

The best thing any company can do is reflect on the growing body of data, case studies, and practical examples showing how the IoT produces cost-savings and other high-priority benefits.

4. Challenge: Understanding integrations

The IoT is complex. Think of it like trying to piece together a puzzle with no picture to work from. You know certain pieces fit here and there, and you can start to see the bigger picture as you connect a few, but the larger image doesn’t come into focus until you’ve got a majority of it all worked out. It’s slow-going and there’s some guesswork involved. A company might not understand the smart building integrations it has or the ones it needs until it has dabbled for a while.

The best way to approach a smart building transition is to understand it. Understand the IoT in a practical sense. Then, understand the nature of integrations and set up simple ones. As the purpose and practicality of the IoT becomes clearer, so will the picture of your smart building.

5. Challenge: Education and responsibility

Even if a company has the financial means and forward-thinking mindset to embrace smart facilities, there’s still the question of who will manage them. Whose job is it to manage integrations and establish reporting? Decipher trends and opportunities? Optimize the IoT around specific business goals? Getting someone formally trained and familiar with smart building technologies takes time and money.

Facility managers are more important than ever before—especially those with IoT experience. Before a company can fully embrace a smart building, it needs to enlist and train a facility manager.

Smart buildings take time to plan

To realize the benefits of smart buildings, companies need to understand the obstacles in front of them. From learning how to use a smart building, to tasking someone to set up and manage integrations, to getting stakeholder buy-in—these unique challenges need attention. Taking the time to address each in turn paves the way for a smart building you understand and can use to make your business better.

Keep reading: IoT for Facility Management.

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Eight Conference Room Naming Ideas

By Nai Kanell

Director of Marketing

SpaceIQ

“Let’s meet in the conference room” is a pretty straightforward statement…unless there’s more than one conference room in your building. In that case, it’s important to come up with conference room naming ideas that delineate which space is which. Different names for meeting rooms makes it easy for groups to find, book, and occupy the right one.

But how should you name your conference rooms? The idea is to create clarity—the last thing you want to do is create more confusion with a complicated naming system.  Use unique conference room names, follow a uniform theme, and make distinctive choices that are easy for people to understand. They should be easy to pronounce, too.

Here are eight examples for conference room names and why they work. Use them as inspiration for names for conference rooms in your facilities:

1. Alphanumeric

If you’re going for pure utility, alphanumeric naming is ideal. eople will know at a glance where the room is. The downfall? It’s not very creative and can be confusing if people aren’t on the same page about how to interpret the naming convention.

  • 02_CONFERENCE (Second floor)
  • CONF_103: (First floor, Room 103)

high performing workplace tips

2. Color and pattern

Colors, patterns, and shapes are, for the most part, universally understood,, which makes them ideal for naming conference rooms. An added bonus is factoring colors and patterns into overall workplace design. The blue conference room is painted, well, blue. The triangle conference room can have a triangle placard by the door.

  • Green, Blue, Red
  • Square, Circle, Triangle
  • Argyle, Plaid, Gingham

3. Practical locations 

This naming convention is best for conference rooms in specific locations. If there’s only one conference room in Marketing, it basically names itself. The same goes for meeting rooms located near landmarks, departments, or distinctive workplace areas.

  • 3rd Floor NW Conference Room
  • South Corner Conference Room
  • Marketing Conference Room

4. Geographic

Naming your conference room after a city, state, or geographic feature is a familiar way to make it memorable. As a bonus, you’ll never run out of names, unless you have more than 50 conference rooms in your state-themed concept.

  • Boston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis
  • Connecticut, Kentucky, Utah
  • Kilimanjaro, Everest, Fuji

5. Astronomical

For a far-out, fun way of naming conference rooms, look to the stars. Constellations, NASA rovers, satellites, and planets make for great conference room names and can spark a sense of adventure and wonder for anyone using the space.

  • Sagittarius, Virgo, Orion
  • Sputnik, Skylab, Juno
  • Europa, Titan, Phobos

6. Nature

Biophilic design a big part of your workplace? Further bridge the gap between nature and your building with nature-focused conference room  names. There’s an endless supply of animals, plants, insects, and regions that goes hand-in-hand with vivid imagery.

  • Sparrow, Cardinal, Finch
  • Walnut, Oak, Ash
  • Desert, Rainforest, Savannah

7. City-specific landmarks

Many local startups and homegrown companies like to remember their roots. What better way to do this than by naming your conference rooms after local landmarks? It’s a great way to create a deeper connection to the community and foster a more comfortable, familiar atmosphere.

  • Broad Street Conference Room
  • Bradford Beach Conference Room
  • Amphitheater Conference Room

8. Honorific names and titles

We wouldn’t be where we are today without the people who paved the path before us. This mindset comes full-circle when you name your conference rooms after innovators and leaders. Great inventors, philosophers, and social advocates set the tone for the forward-thinking taking place in each space.

  • Tesla, Edison, Franklin
  • Aristotle, Plato, Simone de Bouvier
  • MLK, Harriett Tubman, Susan B. Anthony

Each of these naming conventions follows a theme, and uniformity within the theme. Any theme will do, so long as there are unique options for each individual conference room. The more rooms you have, the smarter it is to pick a theme with more variables vs. niche concepts. Plus,  choose a theme that’s aligned with your company goals and values.

Keep reading: Eight Innovative Ideas for Facility Management.

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The Future of Wayfinding is Experiential

By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
SpaceIQ

The future of wayfinding goes beyond practicality. Using enhanced technologies, businesses can focus on fostering rapport with everyone navigating their facilities. Wayfinding should be an experience: one that efficiently manages staff and effectively engages visitors. People shouldn’t just know how to get to where they’re going—they should appreciate where they are.

Wayfinding should promote interaction

Your facilities exist for a reason. They house staff and assets, and serve as a framework for interaction—your business couldn’t exist without a tangible workplace. Facilities need to be easily navigable, welcoming, and accommodating. When these criteria are met, wayfinding becomes less about directing people and more about informing them.

The transition from directing to informing is an important distinction to make. There’s different connotations—passive and active. Someone worried about losing their way is intent on following the directions. They’re engaged in a passive interaction with your facilities. Conversely, someone who feels confident in navigation is learning about your building from your signage. They’re engaged in active interaction: absorbing knowledge and learning. The two activities equate to different experiences.

Read more: 9 Wayfinding Best Practices.

Make navigation a convenience

It’s impossible to reap the full benefits of facilities if people struggle to navigate them. Most people who have difficulty finding their way don’t complain, but are still frustrated and embarrassed when they’re lost. Being lost is an inconvenience, and it affects how they perceive both your facilities and your company. Inadequate wayfinding hurts your business in many ways:

  • Confused visitors form a bad first impression
  • Clients and customers leave frustrated or under-sold
  • Employees waste time looking for people or places
  • Amenities go under-utilized or unused when not easily found

Modern wayfinding technologies like mobile devices, smart signage, and kiosks open up a new frontier of possibilities. Wayfinding predictions include ways to focus on enhancing the human experience through innovative, user-centered applications.

Showcase real-time information

What better way to promote user experience than with smart signs that change automatically based on proximity? Future integrations will let businesses configure monitors and maps to show information based on who’s nearby. Examples that might ping from a user’s phone to a nearby smart sign include:

  • Hot desk availability in a specific area
  • Simple left, right, forward directions to a destination
  • Outages, closures, or hazards disrupting a route
  • Parking space availability
  • Current menus or available products

Small signs with big messages

Some signs serve a specific purpose, such as displaying current occupancy information about a conference room or seating area. These purpose-specific signs can and will be more an experiential part of wayfinding in the near future. Don’t settle for generic signs when custom options let you:

  • Match colors and fonts to company branding
  • Use iconography to express a specific message
  • Display dynamic messaging, such as next availability
  • Recommend a nearby space if occupied

Let AI point the way 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already a major workplace disruptor. Voice assistants and machine-learning programs are changing facility management—now, AI is coming to wayfinding.

AI-enabled mobile applications can route employees to their next destination without them having to look it up or go back to their desk. Visitors can receive individualized directions to their destinations from apps using GPS location together with appointment data. The courtesies afforded by AI are a warm welcome for the nervous newcomer and a relief for employees moving from place to place throughout the day. They preempt the actual wayfinding experience to make it seamless.

Create personalized experiences

Wayfinding trends will soon advance beyond just providing adequate directions. Soon, they’ll help create memorable impressions. Businesses will have access to user data, allowing them to  create tailored experiences across unique office spaces.

Send push-alerts or text messages that address guests by name and ask where they’d like to go when they enter the lobby. Leverage GPS assets to deliver responsive real-time instructions to people on-the-move throughout the facilities. Deploy AI to guide people to specific areas based on habitual data like past visits or recent searches.

Every business will soon see the value in creating a personal, immersive wayfinding experience. The National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY is one of Time’s World’s Greatest Places because of its customized tour experiences. The museum uses questionnaire data together with radio-frequency identification (RFID) wristbands to guide visitors through digital exhibits, which automatically cater to visitors’ preferred comedians and sub-genres. It’s a personalized, one-of-a-kind experience from start to finish.

Experience is everything

What is the future of wayfinding if not a move toward experiential marketing? We’re all acquainted with the power of personalized experiences and their effect on key metrics like satisfaction, trust, and confidence. The opportunities for utilizing data-driven displays and mobile navigation in a physical workplace are as unique as your business. Businesses can leverage up-and-coming wayfinding capabilities to meet the experiential expectations of customers and employees.

Keep reading: Seven Features of Powerful Wayfinding Software.

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Collaborative Workspace Trends & How We Work Together

By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
SpaceIQ

New technologies and staffing strategies are changing the way businesses understand space utilization. It’s no longer about how much space a business has, but how it uses it. As a result, collaborative workspace trends are influencing office design strategies. Collaborative workspaces allow companies to do more with less, while enabling employee productivity.

Flexible workspace trends show how to help employees work effectively with others in an environment conducive to everyone’s needs. As a result, businesses enjoy improved workflows despite headwinds in commercial real estate, diverse employee needs, and constricted budgets.

Make change available to everyone

Look objectively at the physical office and the needs of all employees when designing the optimal collaborative work environment. Specifically, don’t limit collaboration to the departments where it’s traditionally prized. The future of collaborative workspace design goes beyond creative teams. Sales, programmers, and cross-department teams all benefit from environments that encourage workers to brainstorm new ideas and solve problems together.

Stay connected in the workplace

Collaborative office workspace trends affect how we work as much as where we work. The ways employees form lasting partnerships and share ideas have to shift alongside other changes. As we grow more efficient, connections between coworkers become even more important.

As integrated facility management platforms streamline work, we miss out on the interpersonal interactions formed while performing traditional tasks. It’s important to find substitute channels for staff to form these connections, keeping them invested in the company and its culture. Giving them space and reason to collaborate solves this new problem.

Open up for accommodation

Teams perform better when businesses break down walls. This also goes for intangible walls, like those between in-house employees and remote workers. Collaboration is just as important for workers sharing a cloud workspace as those congregating in a breakroom. Collaborative spaces accommodate everything from a visit to the office by traditionally remote workers to live-streaming video collaborations.

Reworking a floor plan to include open collaborative spaces gives businesses the opportunity to redefine space for everyone. Moving managers from behind closed doors puts them closer to the action and fosters transparency. Even though there’s hierarchy, everyone is on level footing.

Real-time seating

Collaborative workspaces accommodate the constant ebb and flow of people within the office. Desking is no longer a 1:1 ratio. Collaborative spaces grow to accommodate as few or as many people who need them at any given time, without the impact of vacancies or overcrowding that affect utilization. This adaptability ensures anyone can find a seat and get to work.

Activity-based workstations

Employees feel more engaged and productive when they have control over their space. Collaborative spaces are inherently agile and flexible. They conform to the needs of employees and change on-demand. It’s easy for people to do their best work when they’re always in control of their environment. Today, it’s a space for a three-person team meeting. Tomorrow, it’s a departmental brainstorming area. Next week, it’ll play host to a client kickoff meeting. Collaborative space is what it needs to be for all people using it.

Mood-inspiring surroundings

Collaborative environments inspire workers to generate and share ideas. To do this, the space needs to evoke feelings of creativity and inspire participation. Businesses should curate a beautiful space in lieu of a sterile office environment.

Think about the vibe you feel inside a hip café filled with creative thinkers hard at work. Apply these design principles to collaborative space. You can trade in cubicles for seating at circular tables or sofa nooks, bring in bean bag chairs, or hang art on the walls. The best collaborative spaces trade the drab cubicle farm look for design elements that make people feel relaxed. Consider:

  • Organic shapes, like curves reflected in furniture, desks, or even walls
  • Interesting lighting fixtures and cool ambiance
  • Natural textures like hardwood, stone, and fabrics
  • Comfortable, relaxing furnishing styles and concepts
  • Framed art, photographs, sculptures, and striking décor

Collaboration shapes tomorrow’s workspaces

These flexible workspace strategies support traditional cooperation among coworkers in new, accommodating environments. They’re driving the greater trend of inviting, intriguing, flexible workspaces that are conducive to both worker demands and business challenges.

Collaborative workspace predictions show a future where employees are more productive and businesses reap more value from investments. They’re changing how we work together for the better so businesses can continue fostering productivity in the best possible way.

Keep reading: Collaboration Software: A Must-Have for Modern Workers.

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Workplace Space Planning Trends for 2020

By Noam Livnat
Chief Product & Innovation Officer
SpaceIQ

Renowned physicist and scholar Sir Stephen Hawking famously said, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” Workplace space planning is all about adapting to change—specifically, how businesses can efficiently and creatively leverage real estate and technology.

The future of space planning is about prioritizing the needs of employees instead of forcing them to bend to the constraints of traditional office space designs. New space planning trends meet existing needs and accommodate anticipated changes. They create cost-effective, flexible, modern workplaces that support agile employees and embrace new technologies. It’s up to businesses to recognize and embrace these trends in 2020.

Path to digital space management 

Workplace optimization has made integrated workplace management systems (IWMS) a necessity. IWMS platforms house and analyze once-siloed data to deliver insights crucial in shaping the workplace. With this information, facilities managers can make the most of every square foot and create spaces that drive productivity without sacrificing engagement.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the rise of coworking and hot desking. Technology makes it easy for people to choose their own workspace without compromising their availability to coworkers or up-ending workplace harmony. Moreover, the IWMS uses aggregated data and trends to help plan, implement, and analyze new desking opportunities.

Cloud-supported, results-based approaches to space planning are fostering innovative office space planning trends, including flexible seating, reserved conferencing, open-air offices, quiet workstations, and inventive office space design.

Flexible seating

Flexible seating is a win-win for businesses. Employees get to pick a workspace that’s right for them, while managers have a system to maximize facility space utilization. Open seating works for everyone, from permanent full-time workers to outside contractors to part-time and remote employees. Businesses don’t overpay for unused space and employees are more productive by using different environments for different tasks.

From a space planning perspective, flexible seating is easy to deploy and revise, with key metrics easily tracked through IWMS software. Regular review of trends and adjustments to the flexible seating concept keep an agile business running smoothly.

Reserved conferencing

Say goodbye to massive meeting rooms that frequently sit unused. Businesses are trading in big conference tables and stuffy 10-person rooms for more flexible, open-air environments. Modular and convertible spaces present new options for meetings. Semi-open configurations have already proven themselves to foster organic collaboration, which has come to make traditional offices all but obsolete.

To maintain structure, many businesses are turning to space booking software. Such systems allow employees to reserve a room and ensure occupants won’t face disruption during meetings.

Open-air offices

Managers may initially resist losing their premium offices when faced with a benching or open-office design. But they’ll come around once they experience the benefits of being more accessible to staff. When managers aren’t behind closed doors, they can hear what’s going on around them. Staff is naturally more forthcoming and there’s less intimidation than being called into the boss’s office to talk with the door shut.

There’s a certain practicality to open-air offices in the modern age. Businesses forced to allocate space more efficiently have a hard time justifying executive suites or huge corner offices. Private offices are slowly disappearing, despite being a longstanding tradition.

Quiet workstations

Regardless of the greater office space design, workers benefit from occasional access to closed-off space. It affords them to focus on intensive tasks and the occasional personal calls. Quiet space offers a chance to decompress, regain composure, and work uninterrupted.

Creating quiet spaces within a larger workplace takes strategy. These areas should be away from the office epicenter. They should require some form of granted accessibility—a key code, a reservation, or even a simple “Occupied” sign. Make them distraction-free and customizable to a degree.

Inventive space design

Current space planning trends address workers’ preference for less traditional workplace design. The last thing new hires want to face is the prospect of 40-plus hours sitting in a cubicle looking at acoustic tiles, fluorescent lighting, and whitewashed walls. Talented workers want (and deserve) more, and they’re motivated by a workplace that engages them.

There’s nothing to lose and much to gain by making aesthetic changes to a drab office. As you consider trends in space planning, consider space design that makes employees feel content with their surroundings.

Build the foundation for a better workplace

These space planning predictions are more than passing fads or imaginative trends. An office that accommodates emerging concepts and marries them to new technologies is one poised to succeed. Consider these trends in 2020—they could define your office for the next decade of work to come.

Keep reading: Collaborative Workspace Trends and How We Work Together.

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Workplace Thought Leadership

Tech Determinism Yields to User Determinism

By Nai Kanell
Vice President of Marketing
SpaceIQ

Technology has long been a driving force in business. From personal computers and fax machines to the internet and smart devices, companies are continually evolving thanks to the latest technological advancements.

This begs the question: How much is technology evolution influenced by its creators vs. its users?

The answer is both, actually. Our society, and by extension our workplaces, are shaped by the technology we use every day. But user expectations are also pushing tech companies to continually raise the bar. Technological evolution is now a two-way street where companies and end users are in constant dialogue.

Technological Determinism Has a Weak Spot

We experience technological determinism every day. A concept derived from theorists in the 19th century, the idea posits that technology shapes every element of society. The effect of technology is so pervasive, in fact, that it influences everything from values to relationships. Because the workplace is a microcosm of our larger society, it also experiences the push-and-pull of technological determinism.

Think about how digital technology has changed our professional lives since the turn of the millennium: WiFi, video conferencing, cloud computing, to name just a few. How a global company is managed today is completely different than it was even 10 years ago. The skillset of knowledge workers has also evolved significantly to keep pace with the latest generation of software programs.

Technological determinism can be seen in the model of tech teams as creators and users as adopters. Customers patiently looked to tech providers for the latest products and updates. In the past, even if users reached out with an idea for a new function or improvement, most of the time their feedback would be ignored or take months/years to implement.

But a massive shift has taken place that is challenging the distinction between creators and users. Call it “user determinism,” because customers have become a powerful sphere of influence to demand technological changes. Smart technology companies recognize the value of bringing their customers to the product development table.

This shift resulted in the birth of the “customer success” role around 2010. Back then, companies had customer-service programs, but were missing the “success” part of the equation. Today, it’s critical that tech providers ensure a customer’s implementation goes well and that their needs are fulfilled on an ongoing basis. Customer success professionals are the links between clients and product development. In the end, customers want to feel they are heard and that tech providers take their feedback seriously.

How Users Drive Technological Innovation

How have users become such vocal proponents of innovation? For one, the feedback loop between companies and clients is at the most transparent it’s ever been. Online reviews and social media tags fundamentally alter how users communicate with technology developers. Clients have no compunction about publicly sharing their opinions (positive or negative) about a product for all to see.

Their expectations about a company’s response time have also changed. The days of writing or faxing in a complaint or suggestion are long over. Even waiting 48 hours for an email response is seen as unacceptably slow—people want an immediate answer. A quick reply is now a given, plus it shows that a business values the opinions of its users.

Yet some legacy companies are holding onto the outdated mindset that only tech determinism rules product development. Because they believe they have all the answers to their clients’ needs, they are slow to respond to or act on feedback. When customer comments aren’t prioritized, however, companies stop innovating.

This is at odds with tech-savvy customers. Because they work in dynamic companies experiencing rapid growth, the ability to pivot quickly is paramount. That includes the technology tools they depend on every day for creativity, collaboration, and productivity. These users are not shy, nor should they be, about demanding modifications or updates that are uniquely suited to their needs.

Like most next-gen tech companies, we’re in a constant marathon to bring new value to our customers. We are always looking for ways to innovate and are deliberately positioned to make agile product changes. Part of our philosophy of continuous improvement is integrating customer feedback into our latest offerings.

For example, a San Francisco-based communications company was using our wayfinder kiosks to show employee and resource locations. Company leaders came to us for ways to book a meeting room at the kiosks. They also wanted an employee catalog with workers’ photos and their current locations.

Suggestions from our customers resulted in substantial improvements to our wayfinding platform. And our collaboration continues to this day, with an add-on that allows wayfinding maps kiosks to reflect the direction in which the person using it is facing.

These are examples of user determinism at its best. The pressure to innovate comes from both internal vision and external feedback—not for just one company, but for every customer looking for ways to maximize every square foot of their workplace. The close ties between technology providers and their clients, via customer success teams or other communication channels, make for more innovative solutions that meet business needs and drive greater workplace productivity.

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