Categories
Blog

What is Veterinary Facility Management?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

Facility management practices are expanding beyond traditional offices and white-collar companies. Today, even veterinary facility management is a practice that demands skilled oversight. The reason is because the benefits are scalable—veterinarians and their operations benefit from good facility management in many of the same ways a traditional office-based company does.

While a veterinary practice may have a much smaller footprint than an office building and fewer people working there, its operations are not any less complex when broken down. Veterinary clinics face unique challenges and facility obstacles that require innovative solutions. Here is a look at how vets can use facility management software to improve operations and the level of “patient” care they provide.

What is veterinary facilities management?

Veterinary facilities management involves making the best possible use of facilities to expedite and optimize the care given to animals. It involves maximizing the use of exam rooms, lab equipment, animal-specific amenities, and, most important, the time and skills of veterinarians and vet techs. This is vital in an environment with so many volatile variables: different animal temperaments, urgent and emergent situations, and limited physical resources.

Examples of veterinary facilities management

Animal hospital facility management introduces much-needed flexibility to veterinary environments. It allows vet techs to adapt to changing situations with quickness, to keep themselves and animals safe, and to expedite the delivery of care. Here are a few basic examples:

  • Room reservation software shows three aggressive dogs booked for appointments at 10am. When Dorothy calls to book an appointment for her skittish cat, the vet tech can schedule them at 11am, to avoid anxiety.
  • A pet owner calls ahead to say they’re bringing in a dog with severe trauma. A vet tech can quickly relocate a dog from the intensive care room to a regular exam room and put the x-ray tech on standby to prepare for the incoming dog.
  • An animal hospital is preparing to receive 10 animals from a breeding mill that’s been shut down. All animals need various levels of care. The hospital’s facility manager delegates cages and exam rooms for all 10 animals in advance of their arrival.

Whether to promote harmony between pets or to prepare for an unforeseen, emergent situation, more vet clinics and animal hospitals are using facilities management software to govern their space and amenities.

Coordinate a better level of care

What variables fall under veterinary facility management? Instead of hot desks and agile workspaces, vet clinics need oversight for their most important assets and operations:

  • Exam rooms. Exam rooms are where evaluations and basic procedures happen—or, where you render billable services. Maximizing exam room utilization has a direct correlation to clinic profitability and patient care.
  • Equipment. X-ray machines, digital scales, surgical equipment, lab equipment, and the like are all critical tools for delivering care to animals. Again, maximizing availability of equipment leads to more billable services rendered.
  • Animal housing. For clinics that charge for boarding or those involve in animal intake for long-term treatment, it is vital to coordinate animal housing. These spaces are finite and essential, necessary to always manage.
  • Staff and volunteers. The workforce’s interaction with facilities is worth measuring and managing. For example, if you have six animals in intensive suites, it tells you to staff more than the usual one or two vet techs.

Whether it’s triage and urgent care, routine exams and procedures, or extended stays, veterinary facilities are home to diverse demands. Like any workplace, it is up to facilities to meet these demands. Visibility is the first step.

Beyond animal care

Veterinary facility management goes beyond finding space for pet and predicting care needs. There are also the people to consider and the general operations of the business as they relate to facilities.

Do patients and their pets have a comfortable waiting room that alleviates stress? Are facilities set up to streamline the patient experience, such as weighing and vitals before the vet consult or leaving through the back door to discourage animal agitation? Are waiting rooms, lab rooms, storage areas, and the waiting room arranged to reduce cross-interaction between pets as they receive care? These questions and many others like them show the link between proper facility setup and management, and business operations.

Maximize the level of care and comfort

Few animals like going to the vet and most are smart enough to know where they are when they get there. Provide an experience that gets them the care they need, in a comfortable environment, with as few disruptions as possible—whether they are in for a routine checkup or an emergency visit.

It is not only about the pets, either. Well-managed vet clinics and animal hospitals will put pet parents at ease and give them the confidence they need to not think twice about scheduling their pet’s next appointment at a particular clinic.

Keep Reading: Selecting the Right Facilities Management Software

Categories
Blog

Is Facility Management a Good Career?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

Chances are, you didn’t write “I want to be a facilities manager when I grow up” for your fourth-grade career essay. In fact, it’s probably not something you considered until well into college career or a first profession. Nevertheless, it’s a career worth considering—especially right now. Is facility management a good career? Turns out, it might be the best one you’ve never thought about.

The reason you might be thinking about a career in facilities management today is evident in the changing nature of work. Due to the rise in trends like flex work, hoteling, agile workplaces, smart buildings, and distributed teams, there’s growing demand for professionals who can put all the pieces of a workplace together—and make them function.

If you’re pondering a career in facilities management, it’s worth understanding what makes it such a great option. Get the scoop on this profession and everything that accompanies it below.

What is a facility manager?

The first and most obvious question to ask is, what is a facility manager? To understand whether a career in facilities management is worth it, you need to set expectations. According to the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA):

Facility managers (FMs) can have many different titles and arrive in their profession through a variety of career paths. They’re responsible for making sure systems of the built environment, or facility, work harmoniously. They are important because they make sure the places in which people work, play, learn and live are safe, comfortable, productive and sustainable.

The roles of a facility manager vary across organization. For a small company with limited facilities, the bulk of an FM’s duties might be optimizing that space for frictionless work across different groups. Conversely, larger companies may need facilities managers to coordinate the many vendors, craftspeople, and maintenance teams that keep facilities running. This gamut of duties is part of what makes facilities management such an intriguing and fulfilling profession.

Why is facilities management important?

As the way we work changes and the commercial real estate landscape becomes more complex, companies need facilities managers to help generate positive return on investment from facilities. The workplace—whatever it looks like—occupies significant space on the balance sheet. Good facilities management helps recoup some of that cost as value.

Beyond maximizing the return on investment of facilities, businesses also rely on FMs to streamline operations. Facilities (and the workplace) connect every part of business operations. A well-run facility can boost productivity, reduce workplace friction, improve employee experience, lower total operational costs, and enhance employee safety, among other benefits.

Average salary for a facilities manager

What can you expect to earn as a facility manager? There’s a significant salary range depending on factors like company size, years of experience, and certification. According to Salary.com, annual salaries range from roughly $72,200 to as high as $126,600, with the average salary for a facilities manager coming in at $99,200. Compared to national salary averages for similar business- and management-related professions, facility management is a good career.

What kinds of businesses need facilities managers?

Facility management is commonly associated with white-collar businesses—everything from finance to marketing to tech and similar. It’s because these businesses typically utilize a traditional office setting, whether they occupy some or all of a building. These aren’t the only sectors that value facilities management. Healthcare, finance, and education are all fields that rely heavily on facilities. These sectors and more are taking proven facility management concepts and deploying them to a high level of success.

The great thing about facilities management as a career is that it’s important in organizations of all sizes and types. Opportunities abound for professionals entering the field right now.

Facility management is a good career

“Good” is a subjective term. Nevertheless, it’s easy to call facilities management a good career based on the positive tailwinds pushing it right now. It’s a career that’s up-and-coming, growing in importance. There are opportunities across all sectors and business types. The pay is above average and competitive across the spectrum. The future is bright for facilities management.

As a kid, you might’ve seen yourself becoming a doctor, astronaut, or a superhero when you grew up. Now, you might be thinking about facilities management as a career. Is facility management a good career? In a world where being a superhero is a little harder than you thought it would be, facility management is a fine second choice. You might actually feel sort of like a superhero after coordinating the complex demands of an evolving workplace.

Keep Reading: Four Main Functions of Facilities Management

Categories
Blog

12 Benefits of Open Office Hoteling

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

The open office concept has become something of a taboo during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing mandates and fear of proximity are forcing change to traditional open offices. The solution is not too far of a pivot: open office hoteling. It is a concept that brings the structure and oversight of hoteling to the free-flowing open office.

Considering the short pivot from traditional open office to open office hoteling? Here are 12 reasons to look closer and endeavor to experiment with a hoteling concept during the pandemic.

  1. Supports flex workers. When employees have the option to work remote or in-office, employers need to plan to accommodate both. Will they come in today? If they do, will we have a desk for them? Hoteling forces predictability. A desk reservation means they’ll be in, and when they arrive, they’ll have a desk.
  2. Supports agile workers. As employees flit around agile workplaces, they need workspaces designed to accommodate their changing workflow. The ability to book a hotel desk in transition fits with the agile model. In this way, open office hoteling is a great framework for agile workplaces and ideal for establishing employee expectations.
  3. Supports remote workers. Your company has 50 workers, 35 of which work remote. Your workplace has seating for 40—more than enough to accommodate the 15 full-time in-house staff. The remaining desks accommodate remote employees who may need to spend time in the physical office. You can bring in 25 of your 35 remote staff for an all-hands meeting and guarantee accommodations for the day.
  4. Great for contact tracing. The open office is not conducive to social distancing and COVID-19 safety standards—at least, not as a free-flowing environment. Hoteling brings order to open offices and enables better control over coronavirus protocols. This includes contact tracing. Hoteling is a responsible solution to open office space during COVID-19.
  5. Ideal for utilization trending. Hotel desks give facility manager a clear picture of utilization in real-time and over time. Because employees need to book space, bookings become a measurable stat that’s trackable and interpretable. For example, if only 20 of your 40 hotel desks see action over a month-long period, it’s safe to say you can scale back.
  6. Easy to calculate costs. Facility managers can use office hoteling software to assign values to each hotel desk in their fleet of workspaces. Then, using utilization metrics, it’s possible to track the cost, ROI, and value of each space. This quantifiable data is vital for making upstream decisions about real estate and facilities management, and it creates greater understanding as to the true cost of a workplace.
  7. Centralized management. The framework hoteling operates within is great for exercising control over the workplace. Facility managers can quarantine specific spaces within the open office environment for sanitization or specific groups, and push desk demands to open hoteling spaces. Similarly, it’s easy to submit work tickets or requests on a per-desk basis, to ensure proper upkeep, cleaning, or repairs.
  8. Integrative with X. In the increasingly connected world of work, integrations enable innovation. An office hoteling system offers broad integration capabilities that make navigating an open office environment simpler, safer, and more efficient. Directory integration makes it easy to find coworkers, no matter what hotel desk they’re at. Wayfinding integrations keep employees grounded in new environments. Booking integrations through Slack make reserving a hotel space simple. The more integrations, the better.
  9. Simplifies space planning. The flexibility of hoteling makes it a plug-and-play solution for many companies assessing their workplace’s efficiency and space utilization. Because hoteling pertains to single spaces within a larger network of optional desks, it’s easy for facility managers to integrate them into an existing floor plan—especially when using space planning software. This saves the trouble of a complete workplace reinvention or major floor plan redesign.
  10. Freedom of choice for employees. Employees want the ability to choose where and how they work. Hoteling gives them this opportunity, but in the context of a managed framework of desks. It’s the best of both worlds! Freedom of choice boosts productivity and morale, while providing facility managers the necessary controls to ensure a balanced workplace.
  11. Low-cost desking. Because of their flexibility, hotel desks bring a new level of cost efficiency to open floor plan concepts. Otherwise-static spaces can become hoteling areas and bring newfound utilization with them. From a cost perspective, a room with four hotel desks filled at 50% occupancy is more valuable than the same room unfilled due to a blanket ban on group meetings due to COVID-19.
  12. Scalability. Whether your workplace has 10 hotel desks or 100 hoteling spaces of varying types, the management framework behind the concept scales. As facility managers figure out supply and demand, it’s easy to add and consolidate spaces within the hoteling network.

These benefits span employees and employers alike, covering cost, productivity, and spatial concepts. In a nutshell: it’s hard to beat the benefits of open office hoteling as we transition into the future of work. If you already use an open office, these benefits are even more enticing, because they’re already within reach.

Keep Reading: Hoteling in the Workplace

Categories
Blog

Hospital Facility Management Software and the Patient Experience

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

There is a reason that, despite being fast-paced, high-intensity environments, many hospitals do not necessarily feel that way. Short of the triage unit and emergency center, most hospital wings and wards feel organized and well-orchestrated. They are ready to respond, always calm, cool, and collected. The secret rests in the oversight afforded to managers by hospital facility management software.

It is impossible to manage hospital operations without a system of guidance. Everything from patient conditions, to their privacy, to the equipment of the hospital and the staff with the skills to deliver care falls under the guise of operations management—and all this falls within the realm of facility management. For hospitals, the facilities are what matter, and they deserve careful and continuous oversight.

How is facility management done in hospitals?

There are two parts to hospital operations: available facilities and the people who need them. If you have two people who need MRIs and two MRI machines, it is straightforward. If you have nine people who need surgery and only three operating rooms, there is much more to consider. What makes hospital facility management so complex is the sheer scale of it all. It is not just MRI machines or operating rooms—it is hundreds of different spaces and pieces of equipment, and thousands of patients who need them.

Hospital facility management software connects the many sides of a hospital to the ebb and flow of demand from patients. While every hospital has different wards—oncology, urgent care, cardiac, pediatric, etc.—each unit has limited space, resources, and equipment available to it. Hospital facility management maximizes the resources of each unit, to ensure the quickest and best levels of patient care. This, in an environment fast paced, demanding, and often unpredictable.

Examples of hospital facilities management

The power of hospital facility management software stretches across a wide breadth of solutions. Here is a look at some of the most basic examples of how hospital facility managers employ software to deliver strategic solutions to patients on a regular basis.

  • There is a pandemic and the hospital needs to schedule float nurses to staff accordingly. Facility managers look at occupied beds to staff the proper number of nurses per ward, per shift, taking from other units with less need.
  • John is being discharged from urgent care to a rehabilitation wing after breaking both his legs. He is placed in an unoccupied room near the rehab facilities he will use to recover, close to a wheelchair accessible washroom.
  • St. Mary’s Hospital is seeing a spike in drug-related hospitalizations. The hospital decides to repurpose part of its triage center to deal specifically with administration of care to patients with addiction.

These examples are only a microcosm of how facility managers orchestrate the caregiving environment to meet patient needs on a daily, hourly, and even by-the-minute capacity. This flexibility and agility are also the reason otherwise-chaotic hospital wards feel well-ordered and ready to adapt.

What is the function of healthcare facilities management?

The core function of hospital facilities management is to improve the patient experience. Patients do not necessarily need to know why hospital operations are set up the way they are. All they need to take away from their experience is the feeling they received great care, in a timely manner, in an environment that put them at ease.

Facility management happens behind the scenes in hospitals. Patients rarely see the coordinated effort it takes to deliver the experience they receive—and this is ideal. They know they can come in for an appointment or an emergency and get the care they need in a prompt fashion.

The growing demand for facilities management for hospitals

There’s still significant room for improvement in the realm of hospital facility management. Though down from a decade ago, emergency room wait times are still almost 40 minutes at peak hours. Likewise, many hospitals still face difficulty pathing patients to specialty wards with expedience.

As healthcare demands in the U.S. and around the world grow larger by the year, more demand for hospital services will put more emphasis on efficient and effective use of available facilities, equipment, people, and resources. Facilities management in hospitals will become more important than it already is.

Complexity beyond description

It is impossible to contextualize the sheer scope of hospital facilities management in one article. From coordinating urgent care, to orchestrating patient movements, to delegating space by demand, and beyond, there is a reason most hospitals put entire facility management teams at the helm of robust software. There are fewer environments more complex and fewer instances where the need for stringent oversight is more important.

Keep reading: How to Select the Right Facility Management Software

Categories
Blog

What’s the Future of Work Post COVID-19?

What’s the Future of Work Post COVID-19?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

Since the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic, companies have speculated on the future of work post COVID-19. As the months dragged on, most companies came to the same conclusion: the future of work depends on a successful pivot during the pandemic. Rather than wait for the virus to pass, companies began to explore new work schedules, desking concepts, remote work, and a host of new workplace standards and practices.

While much of the workforce is still settling in almost a year into the pandemic, the future of work post COVID-19 is becoming clearer—thanks in large part to the adaptations of leading companies. Here’s what’s trending up and paving the way for the future of work in our upcoming post-pandemic world.

Remote work is here to stay

Remote work was arguably the single biggest pivot during the pandemic. The exodus from the workplace to home offices, dining room tables, and couches has proven that a significant portion of the population can work from home. As they settle in, many employees are finding that they enjoy the freedom remote work affords them, and are willing to put up with some of the cons attached to it.

Employers are also discovering the benefits of a remote workforce. Expect many employers to trim back their workplace footprint in the coming years as more employees opt for remote work. New workplace desking concepts are also good for the bottom line, as they exhibit better space utilization and cost-efficiency.

The amicable view on remote work by both employers and employees indicates this is one trend that’s here to stay.

Distributed teams

In conjunction with remote work, distributed teams are also sure to stick around. Whether they’re all remote or a mixture of remote vs. in-office, teams are no longer in the same place, which means their communication standards have changed.

The future is filled with more Slack messages, Zoom calls, and Dropbox collaborations. Teams might not all be in the same place, but they need to be on the same page. Employers need to take distributed teams into consideration as they plan upcoming investments in technology and look for ways to upskill managers.

Hoteling emerges in a big way

Hoteling office space is right behind remote work in terms of lasting changes to how we work. Hoteling has allowed companies to facilitate a safe return to work by giving employees the freedom to choose their workspace, while tracking workspace utilization. It’s not only great for contact tracing, it’s a valuable desking concept for agile work environments and companies practicing flex work.

Hoteling offers a perfect medium between the freedom of hot desking and the structure of assigned or static workspaces. Managed correctly, hoteling will become the lynchpin for companies with complex scheduling across flex teams. As we move past the pandemic, employers will look for ways to downsize their square footage while growing their workforce, and they’ll rely on hoteling and flex work to balance these adjustments.

How will coworking and hot desks fare?

In 2018 and 2019, hot desking and coworking appeared to be the clear frontrunners in the future of work. These workplace concepts even ushered in the current crop of space planning software more and more companies will rely on into the future.

While hot desking and coworking will see a rebound post-pandemic, there’s fear that they won’t bounce back with as much gusto. Coworking spaces will reappear and may thrive thanks to a significant uptick in remote workers, but the business model has become shakier under the context of the pandemic. Hot desks may cede their share of the workplace to hotel desks, which give more control to facility managers when it comes to understanding worker habits and workspace utilization.

We haven’t seen the end of coworking and hot desks, but the future might bring different iterations of these concepts from what we know them as pre-pandemic.

Will we ever go back to static desks or open offices?

The future is the age of the agile workplace, which means we’re not likely to see a resurgence of static desking concepts. Open offices aren’t off the table, however, provided they’re rooted in flex work principles. Benching won’t likely bounce back as well—breakout spaces will take their place.

The more dynamic an individual workspace, the more likely its future in a post COVID-19 workplace. The reason? Dedicated space will become a burden on the balance sheet if distancing policies stay in place. Even if they don’t, employees are becoming acclimated to new occupancy standards and won’t want to pack into confined spaces if they can help it.

Early trends squash speculation

The above trends aren’t speculation—they’re emerging standards. Almost one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing the makings of a future beyond it. The adjustments and transitions companies are making now aren’t short-term pivots—they’re planning for the future. There’s no going back.

While these standards will continue to evolve, they’re setting the stage for employee expectations. After a mass migration to remote work, distributed teams, hoteling, and flex work, employers and employees alike won’t be in any hurry to up-end their work arrangement again!

Read Next: Space Planning Software Buyers Guide

Categories
Blog

Office Hoteling App: Five Must-Have Features

Office Hoteling App: Five Must-Have Features

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

As companies scramble to maintain workplace operations during an ongoing pandemic, an office hoteling app has become a standout solution for a safe return to work. Workplaces have begun the transition to hoteling for many reasons—seating oversight, contact tracing, space utilization, and better individual workspace management, to name a few. An office hoteling app is an employee’s gateway to navigating this new floor plan and the lynchpin for successfully returning to the workplace after COVID-19.

Wayfinding is a two-way street. Employers need to manage the hoteling system to oversee variables like seat availability and workspace accessibility. On the flip side, employees need to engage that system and interact with it to successfully reintegrate during a return to work. Here’s a look at some of the most important features an office hoteling app needs to facilitate the latter’s role in successful hoteling.

1. Real-time desk visibility

Employees need a live look at the workspaces available to them. Hoteling falls apart without real-time visibility. What happens when two people book the same desk, or a desk appears filled but is actually vacant? Hoteling has the power to be a flexible solution that empowers employees during the return to work, but only if they trust the app to provide real-time insights.

Look for cloud-based hoteling app solutions with low latency integrations to deliver real-time desk visibility. Systems should also be smart enough to handle double-bookings by recommending adjacent spaces or canceling a booking the moment another is confirmed.

2, Workspace identifying information

The more information a hoteling app provides to employees, the more value they’ll derive from it. Workspace identifying information needs to transcend where the desk is or the physical square footage it occupied. Some useful information to attach to hotel desks includes:

  • Workspace size and location
  • Type of furnishings (desk, chair)
  • Outlets or USB hookups present
  • Hookups present (ethernet, A/V)
  • Special considerations

The purpose of this information is to answer as many questions about the workspace as possible upfront. Identifying information also sets expectations. If the profile says there’s an adjustable standing desk, it might sway an employee to choose that space over another. Just make sure expectations fit reality! Booking a workspace with a standing desk and arriving at one with a traditional sitting desk won’t bode well with employees.

3. Integrated wayfinding

Companies with multiple floors or large campuses need a wayfinding component built into employee hoteling apps. While descriptions of the desk location are helpful (third floor, northeast corner by the copy closet), they leave room for interpretation errors. Wayfinding takes human error out of the process.

Wayfinding is also invaluable if there are dozens (or hundreds) of similar desks. “Third floor cubicle cluster” isn’t an effective description and will disrupt the hoteling system as employees seat themselves in the wrong place. Navigation should take them straight to their seat and offer confirmation that they’re in the right place.

4. Directory integration

The team dynamic is still important in the workplace—even with social distancing measures present. It behooves employees to sit in proximity to the people they work with, even if they need to keep some distance in-between. Getting up to occupy a conference room under new social standards is a lot easier when everyone is a few desks apart, rather than a few floors.

Directory integration is also useful for tracking down individuals within the hoteling framework. Derry might not sit in the same place today as he did two days ago, or last week. If Michaela needs to bring something to him, she needs to be able to find him. Tying hotel desk reservations to the employee directory makes Derry’s location accessible—and, if there’s wayfinding integration, it’s even easier for Michaela to track him down. Less time spent searching is less time wasted.

5. Cross-platform functionality

App functionality needs to be consistent across all devices. If it’s not, employee experience will be inconsistent, which means the hoteling experience will vary from person to person. Whether they own an Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, or any of a dozen other popular smartphones, your office hoteling app should deliver a uniform experience for everything from desk booking to directory lookups and wayfinding.

Deliver a consistent hoteling experience

Hoteling has emerged as a way to help every employee safely return to the office post COVID-19. To facilitate this return smoothly and safely, each employee needs to have a positive, seamless experience with the office hoteling app. Make it easy for them to see available workspaces, book them, navigate to them, and find their coworkers, and they’ll be more confident in their return to work.

Read Next: Streamline Desk Booking with Office Hoteling Software

Categories
Blog

How to Shape the COVID-19 Employee Experience

How to Shape the COVID-19 Employee Experience

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

Fear. Frustration. Exasperation. Weariness. These are some of the many emotions that define the COVID-19 employee experience. Whether they’re back in the workplace or still doing remote work, employees are no doubt feeling upended and all the emotions that come with it. Not only has the situation grated on employees, it’s caused disruptions to everything from productivity to collaboration. It’s a situation begging for change.

While the world may be at the mercy of coronavirus until a viable vaccine deploys, employers can boost employee experience during COVID-19. Amidst mask mandates, social distancing, sanitizations, and contact tracing, employees need a reason to stay optimistic and positive. Employers should give it to them.

Instead of COVID-19 changing employee experience, employers need to take the reins and affect their own (positive) change. Here are a few suggestions piquing the interest of pandemic optimists:

Make the virtual workplace more authentic

The biggest transition for many employees during the pandemic has been the loss of socialization in the workplace. Messaging on Slack and even the occasional Zoom meeting aren’t enough to replace idle banter in a conference room or the happenstance run-ins at the copy machine. To redefine the experience for remote employees and those living vicariously through digital channels, humanize it.

Host virtual happy hours and encourage off-topic messaging at appropriate times. See who can come up with the best Zoom background. Run trivia through Slack. Employees may lack the in-person interaction, but employers can inject variety into virtual workplaces to rekindle socialization.

Practice social-emotional leadership

A little empathy goes a long way toward improving the COVID-19 employee experience. Encourage employees to take breaks or step away from their workstations to decompress. Institute a policy for mental health days—no-questions-asked time off when the stress is just too much. Managers should also take time to shepherd their flock—check in individually with employees to see how they’re doing or let them vent. Above all, encourage leadership to listen and understand the things employees struggle with so you can take steps to correct them.

Prioritize happiness for all employees

What can you do to lighten the emotional load on employees? Inspiring happiness needs to be a core principle for companies that expect continuing productivity and engagement from their teams. If employees wake up and dread going to sit in front of their computer screen or step foot in the office, the emotional toll will weigh on them throughout the day and become an anchor on their morale.

Managers should dole out praise and support early and often, and find ways to unburden employees of unnecessary stressors. Focus on both sides of the coin: picking employees up and jettisoning the things that put them down.

Destigmatize mental health

Mental health and wellness has become increasingly important in workplaces, with more transparent initiatives to promote a positive culture surrounding it. During the pandemic, significantly more people report a decline in mental health—from anxiety to depression to apathy.

Prioritize mental health initiatives and destigmatize this topic in the workplace. Make telehealth options available to employees, institute mental wellness breaks, adopt a mental health day policy, and make it clear to employees that their mental health is a priority above all else. Affirmation of the mental health woes we’re all facing makes it easier for employees to see the signs and confront them early, knowing they have the support of their employer behind them.

Stay in communication (and provide insight)

Especially for distributed teams, make an effort to check in and keep abreast of individual employees—not only in a managerial capacity, but informally as well. Likewise, maintain consistent informative communication. A weekly memo, timely updates, or emergent messaging show that the company is paying attention and being mindful of employees by keeping them in the loop. Whether it’s commentary on the pandemic at large or a company-specific update about changing processes, employees feel better when they’re in-the-know, as opposed to in the dark.

Listen for and correct problems

There’s no such thing as a totally seamless transition from pre-pandemic work to whatever protocols your company has adopted. It takes time to adjust to change and settle in. As obstacles pop up and problems arise, listen and take note—then find a way to address them. Even small problems will grate on employees and can make them feel like they’re unsupported. Especially when it comes to technology struggles, do everything in your power to help ease the transition and acclimate employees.

Stop normalizing the “new norm”

Learning how to enhance employee experience during the pandemic comes from understanding what’s disrupting your workforce. What, specifically, causes them anxiety or trepidation? How can you ease the frustrations of their new work arrangement? What will give them a reason to smile behind their mask, as opposed to frown?

The ‘new norm’ we’ve been hearing so much about has a stigma attached to it—a sense of inevitable disruption. Employers need to stop normalizing the idea that disruption is here to stay and instead, adopt solutions-driven initiatives that define the future in spite of the pandemic.

Keep reading: Covid-19 Workplace Resources

Categories
Blog

Space Planning vs. Floor Planning

Space Planning vs. Floor Planning

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

The realm of workplace management is a semantic minefield. What might sound like one thing, means another—if you’re not careful, you could find yourself talking about one concept while someone else registers it as another. Such an example of important semantic differences is space planning vs. floor planning. While they may sound the same, they’re very different and have differing connotations in context. 

A tale of two terms

What’s the difference between space planning vs. floor planning? It comes down to what each term encompasses.

  • The space in space planning refers to how a section of the floor plan is used. During space planning, you might decide you need a conference room, a cluster of hot desks, and a breakout space. You’re devoting portions of your office’s overall space to these purposes. 
  • Floor planning stems from the idea of organizing space. That conference room goes over here. The hot desks go over there. The breakout space will reside here. Where are these spaces within the context of the floor of a building? 

Floor planning is the where; space planning is the how. The two terms have an important relationship with one another, but are independently important. There’s a big difference between space planning initiatives and a floor plan concept, for example. 

A look at space planning

Office space planning is arguably the first concern of facility managers because it deals with space type and utilization. For example, you wouldn’t put a bunch of single-person desks in an office that revolves around group work. Before you can deploy a space in the context of a floor plan, you need to know what type of space is best. 

Space planning is dependent on a number of variables, including demand for certain space types and availability of square footage. For example, during COVID-19, many businesses are converting conference spaces into hoteling environments based on demand, and the space requirements for these workspaces are less than a single conference room, making them feasible. 

Finally, space planning considers the habits and needs of different work groups. A workforce that’s half in-office and half-remote might need less collaborative space than a team that’s all in-office. The engineering team might work better with a benching concept so they can collaborate openly. The many variables that govern work also govern space planning, and space planners need to account for them as they shape different facets of the workplace. 

An overview of floor planning

Floor planning gives context and application to space planning. A floor plan delegates space and lays everything out in real terms, against the actual square footage of a building’s floors. It also provides parameters for space planning. For example, you can’t put a 12-person conference room in a section of the building that only measures 10’x10’.

A floor plan also shows how much real space is delegated to a particular concept, which informs metrics for efficiency, utilization, and cost. If 40% of your total square footage is hoteling space, but the work that happens in these spaces accounts for 75% of your revenue, that’s a metric worth knowing. It starts by understanding where and how different space concepts exist in reality.

There’s also spatial awareness that comes from a floor plan. When you ask “where does Mesha sit?” the answer needs to come from the context of a floor plan: “the southeast corner of the third floor, by the blue conference room.” Floor plans are so important because they tie space to application, especially through applications like wayfinding, directories, or desk allocation. 

Put them together for maximum effect

Much of the confusion between space planning vs. floor planning comes from execution. For example, you’ll likely use space planning software to create a floor plan—a concept confusing in and of itself. The key difference to remember is that space planning involves finding purpose for the space, while floor planning involves placing it within the context of the workplace. This is, in fact, where the two come together and best complement each other. 

Companies can use space planning data to inform better floor plans, then continue to improve floor plans based on evolving space demands. Conversely, if there’s a hole in a floor plan, the context of that gap can inform better space planning—the need for a breakout space or a quiet workstation, for example. 

In either case, space planning and floor planning, used in tandem, are a powerful combination for maximizing the practicality of a workplace. You can’t have one without the other, and both have important definitions and meanings in the context of total workplace planning. 

Keep reading: Space Planning Software Buyers and Info Guide

Categories
Blog

Post COVID-19 Return to Office

Post COVID-19 Return to Office: How to Cope with Spikes

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

As of November 2020, the United States was riding the third wave of COVID-19 to new highs in daily positive cases. Or rather, the third surge of the first wave. Almost one year into the pandemic and it continues to spread unchecked. It’s causing disruptions for businesses at every level—especially for those hoping for a post COVID-19 return to office work. 

Many companies chose to open up their workplaces in late August during a downtrend in cases. Unfortunately, positive tests ticked up again in late September and have been on the rise ever since. This has spurred a return to remote work for many companies, while others are hunkering down to weather what appears to be a pandemic ready to surge into 2021. However they’re handling it, companies face many uncertainties and no small number of frustrations as they struggle to predict and plan for the pandemic. 

Is the workplace safe right now?

During the August bout of business reopening, many employees expressed concern over returning to the workplace for fear of a spike in cases. These fears are at a head—although not because of the workplace. In fact, there are few workplace hotspots reported. Experts attribute the uncontrolled rise in cases to the fact that “lockdown measures have lifted, more people are spending time indoors as weather gets cold, residents are feeling fatigued by safety measures, and cases never dropped sufficiently.”

Workplaces may in fact be safer than normal due to the stringent policies adopted at the outset of the pandemic. At-home self-assessments, mask mandates, workplace distancing, increased janitorial measures, and distant desking concepts combine to keep transmission opportunities low in the workplace. 

How to cope with spikes

Even if an employee doesn’t catch COVID-19 in the workplace, it doesn’t mean that workplace isn’t affected. Space utilization falls as more employees stay home. Spaces may be off-limits for disinfection after an employee tests positive. Other employees may need to self-quarantine in lieu of a positive test, due to the virus’ incubation period. These factors and countless others affect the workplace and make it more difficult to mount a successful return to work strategy. 

To cope with uncertainty, employers need to create stability. Just as they adopted new cleaning and social standards to help employees safely return to the office post COVID-19, companies also need to institute policies that drive predictable results. Here are some examples:

  • A hoteling policy allows employers to reorganize their workplace to optimize space utilization, control occupancy, and create contact tracing standards. 
  • Create a rolling schedule that separates employees into in-office and at-home groups, rotating bi-weekly to preserve a 14-day buffer in the event of a positive or false-positive.
  • Build in standards and protocols for each workspace that govern which employees can use them, when, and for how long, to dictate space utilization habits. 
  • Restructure the workplace to repurpose shared spaces into hoteling stations or single-person workstations, compliant with social distancing standards. 

To create predictability and certainty in their workplaces, employers need to embrace flexible work concepts within the context of a well-governed framework. This means managing hotel desks with office hoteling software or pre-scheduling workplace sanitization tasks as employees book spaces. A return to work that’s structured and managed is necessary to combat spikes in COVID-19 cases and the disruption that comes with them. 

Consider employee fears and frustrations

Even the best desking policy or the most thorough cleaning standards aren’t enough to quell employee fears about COVID-19. To assuage those fears and promote a safe, productive, comfortable return to work, employers need to be transparent in their efforts. 

  • Show employees exactly what changes you’ve made to accommodate them
  • Explain in specific detail how these changes promote safety and reduce risk
  • Lay out protocols for how contact tracing and employee privacy factor in
  • Recognize the severity of COVID-19 and empathize with concerned employees
  • Don’t dismiss fears or concerns; address them specifically and thoroughly

Ultimately, some employees will not feel comfortable with a return to work, no matter how broad your precautions are. If at all possible, find alternative work solutions for these individuals. If remote work isn’t possible, work to accommodate them in-house in as many ways as possible. 

Get back into the swing of things

Regardless of employee trepidation or rising COVID-19 cases, a return to work will take time. After working remotely for months or flexing back-and-forth between the office and remote work, employees need time to reset and settle themselves back into some semblance of a “normal” work environment. Whether it’s the one they enjoyed before COVID-19 or a “new norm” brought on by the pandemic, a post COVID-19 return to office work will take time. 

Read Next: Workplace COVID-19 Resources