Workplace Thought Leadership

Corporate Social Responsibility: New Expectation for Business 

By Steve Segarra
Chief Technical Officer

Employees expect more from their jobs than a paycheck. Some are after greater flexibility while others are looking for a closer fit to their social and ethical values. Shareholders expect organizations to be profitable but also to contribute to their communities in positive ways. Business leaders likely have witnessed these shifts first-hand and maybe even been tasked with helping their organization evolve.

As the number of vaccinated individuals increases and companies find their way back to the office, it’s hard to ignore how the corporate landscape is changing. Forbes predicts a “great resignation” where many employees will start looking for a new job in the next few months. In fact, the Labor Department reported that nearly 4 million Americans quit their jobs in April alone. 

In a 2019 Gallup study; Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers all rated, “having an ethical leadership” among the top three things they look for in an employer. The older generations likely associate this with the personal character of their leaders while younger employees are concerned with how a company impacts people and the planet. According to the study, Gen Z and younger Millennials (who now make up 46% of the full-time U.S. workforce) “expect bold action [from their employer] to address moral blind spots…they want to know that the work they are doing has a net positive impact on human beings and the natural world.” 

Those values are at the core of corporate social responsibility. There’s no denying that it’s a job-seeker’s market so it’s imperative that companies create the kind of work environment that attracts and retains the best talent, optimizes existing resources, and drives better performance from every asset – including employees. 

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Investopedia defines corporate social responsibility (CSR) as:

“…practices and policies undertaken by corporations that are intended to have a positive influence on the world. The key idea behind CSR is for corporations to pursue other pro-social objectives, in addition to maximizing profits.” 

That said, not all companies can approach CSR the same way. It is important to know what niche your company occupies and what existing and future employees expect. 

A great example is how Bloomberg L.P. responded in its 2020 Impact Report:

“Governments are eager to respond to the fallout from the pandemic in ways that make their economies stronger, more sustainable and more resilient. Business leaders recognize the risks they face and understand that the same steps that cut carbon emissions also help to spur growth and promote stability. The year ahead can set the stage for a decade of transformational change—but only if we act boldly and urgently.” 

In the past few decades, more business leaders have recognized a need to do more than maximize profits for shareholders and executives. In order to remain relevant and competitive, they have embraced a social responsibility to do what’s best for their company, community, society at large, and the planet. 

Five Reasons for Embracing CSR

Implementing strong corporate social responsibility initiatives may improve overall business by: 

  1. Giving new and existing employees confidence that they are part of an organization that is socially responsible. A 2016 study showed 55% of employees would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if it meant a lower salary.
  2. Creating a work environment that is safe and healthy for employees. According to a Project ROI Study, your CSR program could increase employee engagement by up to 7.5%, increase employee productivity by 13%, and reduce employee turnover by 50%.
  3. Minimizing your organization’s environmental impact, which can lead to greater overall financial stability. Starbucks began its rollout of the “strawless lid” in 2020 and is working to be 100% strawless in its more than 29,000 stores worldwide.
  4. Strengthening customer loyalty by showing a commitment to social and environmental responsibility. In a 2017 study, 76% of consumers say they will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.
  5. Bolstering your corporate image, building your brand, improving morale, and increasing job satisfaction. Fast Company named its top 10 most innovative CSR companies of 2021. 

Implementing CSR Initiatives with Integrated Tech

Where does an organization start? Your CSR strategy could start slowly, focusing on just compliance or sustainability. Or the focus can be on energy management and using building resources more efficiently. If safety is your greatest concern, you may start with waste management, hazard abatement, and managing hazardous materials to better support employee health and wellbeing. 

Whatever the priority, technology like an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) enables you to start simple and evolve into a strategy that puts your organization at the forefront of innovation. An IWMS helps keep operations running efficiently and nurture an environment that lets employees do their best work.

A powerful IWMS provides myriad functions and features to support CSR goals: 

  1. Compliance – Helps keep facilities and employees compliant with regulations to mitigate risk, maintain safe environments, and reduce administrative burdens. 
  2. Sustainability – Recognizes the strategic value of reducing carbon footprints to protect the environment and enhance a company’s bottom line. 
  3. Energy Management – Provides the means to easily aggregate, evaluate, and optimize energy and utility spending decisions to reduce unnecessary consumption and costs. 
  4. Green Buildings – Aids in delivering the information framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and managing the environmental sustainability certification and recertification process. 
  5. Waste Management – Provides a streamlined and integrated approach to tracking, managing, and reducing both hazardous and non-hazardous waste. 
  6. Hazard Abatement – Helps protect the health of building occupants, minimize organizational liability, and avoid costly fines or possible litigation. 
  7. Hazardous Materials – Supports facilities managers in safely handling toxic products, verifying compliance with various regulations, and informing first responders where those hazardous materials are stored and what they may encounter during an emergency.  

And let’s not forget the impact the pandemic has had on real estate portfolios. Some organizations are cutting their carbon footprint by cutting back on their space. According to the Paris Climate Agreement, we must eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment by 2040. Buildings generate almost 40% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. An IWMS can help these organizations easily right-size their portfolios.

Corporate Social Responsibility: No Longer Optional

There is little doubt that CSR programs have a place in every organization. The number of companies implementing CSR plans increases by the year. A Harvard Business School report found that in 2011, less than 20% of S&P 500 companies were charting their efforts related to CSR and sustainability. In 2014, it soared to 75% and jumped to 90% in 2019. 

Creating and implementing initiatives with a mission to improve people’s lives, the Earth, and its resources is a new standard to which investors, employees, and consumers are holding organizations. And as a business leader, your responsibility to actualize these plans is no small feat. The right kind of technology can make all the difference to your success. 

Organizations are quickly evolving to meet the high expectations of doing business amidst a global crisis. They must adapt business models, hire and retain top talent, and give back to their communities in meaningful ways in order to stay successful and relevant. If you are implementing or reinventing your organization’s CSR plans, click here to learn more about how an IWMS supports the social and moral values employees have come to expect from today’s businesses. 

Keep reading: What is IWMS Software?


A Focus on Regulatory Standards Starts With Facilities

Many companies operate within strict regulatory environments. There are varying degrees of oversight required to maintain compliance with stringent rules—whether it’s maintaining LEED Certification to qualify for credits or HIPAA standards to protect patients.

It’s not enough to file documentation and train staff—facilities themselves need proper orchestration to adhere to compliance criteria. That means building maintenance and floor plan design specifically oriented toward achieving and maintaining regulatory and code compliance. This burden increasingly falls to facility managers.

How do you structure compliant facilities?

It’s not that companies don’t understand regulatory standards. In fact, most are acutely aware of exactly what’s expected of them to maintain compliance (or avoid non-compliance). Yet, they fall short for one reason or another. In 2020, HIPAA fines exceeded $13,554,900. OSHA issued $1,222,156 in coronavirus-related fines alone.

The problem often lies in execution. Floor plans, facility processes, building management, workflow oversight, and other on-premise elements need to align with the broader mission of compliance. This means reshaping how facilities look and/or function.

Does your healthcare facility have access control in areas with patient-sensitive information? What’s the hazardous waste management protocol for facilities? Are building accessibility systems part of a routine service and maintenance plan? Whether HIPAA, LEED, ADA, or some other standard, facilities play a significant role in compliance.

Company stakeholders—including facility managers—need to recognize the role of facilities in laying the groundwork for regulatory compliance. To do this takes robust reporting and oversight.

Archibus sheds light on facility controls

As facility managers look closely at workplaces through the lens of regulatory standards, they need software specifically designed to benchmark these efforts. Archibus’ Compliance Management features offer the much-needed tools to reduce administrative costs and prevent costly disruptions. This includes occupational injuries, property damage, and shutdowns that may result from inadequate practices.

The most important feature Archibus provides is contextual data, aligned with compliance metrics. From building code tracking to cost allocation for specific budget items, the software helps facility managers prioritize compliance.

Consider a simple example like medical waste disposal, which must adhere to CDC, OSHA, and FDA guidelines, as well as state and local standards. By shaping medical waste processes and practices at the facility level and tracking metrics through Archibus, companies are able to ensure compliance that’s engrained into everyday workplace interactions. In this example, Archibus provides controls for:

  • Budgeting and costing specific to medical waste handling and disposal
  • Safety standards and protocols surrounding handling and disposal
  • Workflow and floor planning conducive to safe handling and disposal
  • Emergency response action planning for incidents involving medical waste
  • Vendor selection and management for medical waste disposal

Using Archibus to lay the groundwork for compliance puts facility managers in control of the most important aspects of regulatory administration. Companies gain the ability to avoid penalties and fines, create safe and productive environments, reduce administrative costs, and realize accurate reporting and information to maintain compliance.

Compliance is a function of facilities

It’s easy to think about regulatory compliance as a function of due process. That said, process execution happens within the context of facilities. It’s not enough to create compliance standards and practices—it’s vital to orchestrate facilities to support them.

To learn more about Archibus’ compliance management tools and resources, schedule a demo today.


Credit Union Space Planning

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

Credit unions, like any financial institution, offer multifaceted products and services. Some members drop by regularly to cash a check or withdraw from their account. Others only visit a branch for big events, such as signing mortgage paperwork. Still more people look to their local credit union as a place for financial advice: investments, estate planning, or refinancing. No matter why they visit, members expect a warm welcome and the proper space to conduct their business. Credit union space planning is paramount in meeting this expectation.

Space planning is particularly important for credit unions because of their traditionally small footprint. Unlike mega banks that sprawl across multiple floors and large corporate branch locations, credit unions are more personable institutions. It’s important for them to have space available to serve members for the many reasons they visit the branch—from simple deposits and withdrawals, to financial meetings and mortgage paperwork.

As credit unions seek to distinguish themselves from bigger banks, they need space to do right by their members. Here’s a look at the opportunities space planning affords credit unions and why it’s so important.

What is credit union space planning?

The concept of space planning is simple: ensure there’s adequate space allocated within the credit union for the many member services offered. You can’t have a mortgage loan meeting in the middle of the lobby, just like you can’t let members walk through the teller area to get to their safety deposit box. Space planning involves taking a look at facilities to create a floor plan that meets everyone’s need and expectations in a cohesive way.

While there are many ways to approach space planning, it comes down to allocating and organizing in a way best-suited to the operations of the credit union. Administrators need to consider how much space they have, what services members need most, and how to arrange them all within a floor plan that promotes security, privacy, and accessibility.

Benefits of space planning for credit unions

Space planning is beneficial to both credit unions and the members they serve. Purposeful organization of facilities equates to a better standard of service—a reason for members to keep coming back. Some of the other substantial benefits of effective space planning for credit unions include:

  • Small business facilities become more accessible
  • Employees have the space they need to execute mission-critical tasks
  • Reduction in the amount of space needed to conduct operations
  • The cost to the company drops as facility efficiency lowers overhead expense
  • Fewer overlaps and interruptions ensure smoother operations
  • Enhanced safety, security, and privacy in well-orchestrated spaces

Above all else, credit unions need to continually establish themselves as friendlier and more welcoming than larger banks. Space planning helps them do this by ensuring operational capabilities meet member expectations. Whether they’re cashing a check, talking with an advisor, or applying for a loan, members need to feel like the credit union support them. The key is having the space to support all these operations, on-demand.

How does credit union space planning software help?

Space planning for a financial institution is highly complex—even in smaller credit union facilities. There are considerations for accessibility, convenience, security, and privacy to consider—as well as the many member services offered. Coordinating them all takes robust floor planning and space allocation software. Credit unions need to rely on space planning software to account for the many variables that dictate a floor plan.

Credit union space planning software offers intuitive tools that help administrators realize demand for space and build it into floor plans that facilitate credit union operations. This includes sandboxing features and drag-and-drop capabilities to orchestrate and iterate floor plans in real-time. Administrators have the ability to see where floor plans meet space demands, and where opportunities for more efficient allocation exist.

Data is also invaluable when planning and allocating space. Space planning software offers it in abundance, which allows credit union admins to contextualize space. It’s vital to know how much space X, Y, and Z occupy, and how that affects member experience and the level of services the credit union is able to offer. In a nutshell, credit union space planning software offers both insight and actionability.

The space to serve members, on their terms

Credit unions distinguish themselves through a superior standard of individualized service. To offer this level of convenience to members, they need space to fulfill on the many products and services offered. That means space for tellers, meeting rooms for financial advisors, and private offices to sign loan paperwork, among others. Credit union space planning revolves around creating these spaces within the confines of facilities that are inherently smaller and more welcoming.

Credit unions that engage in effective space planning put themselves in a position to meet member expectations for convenience, privacy, and comfort. If facilities feel well-designed and support member services, people have even more of a reason to choose their local credit union over a large corporate bank that lacks the same helpful, personable facilities.

Keep reading: How Can Smart Space Planning Software Improve Workplaces?


Corporate Workplace Space Planning

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

The multifaceted nature of large corporations complicates many aspects of operations—perhaps none more than space planning and allocation. Where’s the best place for Sales? How many total desks does Marketing need? Every business line comes with its own demands for space, and there never seems to be enough to go around. Corporate workplace space planning becomes a mission-critical imperative, to ensure each business segment has the space it needs to do its job.

Without a coordinated approach to space planning, even more complexities would arise for corporations. Revenue falls short when sales teams don’t have enough space. Marketing campaigns flop when there’s no space to collaborate. Every segment of business that’s connected to the workplace needs a carefully orchestrated environment that supports the people working in it. This doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a clear and continuous focus on space planning.

Let’s explore why corporate workplace space planning is so vital to the company’s operations—and why more large corporate companies have begun to prioritize it as part of facility management.

What is corporate workplace space planning?

The concept behind corporate workplace space planning is simple: to create cohesion within the workplace. At the top level, it involves creating a floor plan that includes the different types of workspaces conducive to employees. In a more granular sense, it’s about making sure the proportion of space fits the demands of each business unit. Finally, space planning dictates the ebb and flow of the office, along with aspects of accessibility and security.

The difference between thoughtful space planning and a hodgepodge approach is immediately evident in how the workplace functions. Are employees working productively or “making do” with the space they have? Are they bumping elbows and crowding into certain areas or do they have enough space to work uninterrupted? Space planning helps corporations avoid the many problems that can arise if the workplace is uncoordinated.

Space planning requires a mindful approach to space allocation and delegation. The concept itself is simple. Understand the types of spaces employees need, proportion them for each business unit, and arrange them in a way that creates synergy. Then, make adjustments as the needs of employees change.

Benefits of space planning for the corporate workplace

Space planning serves many purposes and carries many benefits when approach with tact. In providing the space employees need to work productively and efficiently, the business reaps the benefits. Some of the benefits that quickly become apparent through space planning include:

  • Small business facilities become more accessible
  • Employees have the space they need to execute mission-critical tasks
  • Reduction in the amount of space needed to conduct operations
  • The cost to the company drops as facility efficiency lowers overhead expense
  • Fewer overlaps and interruptions ensure smoother operations
  • Enhanced safety, security, and privacy in well-orchestrated spaces

Space planning for corporate workplaces comes down to supporting staff. When companies give employees ample space to work and the right type of space to work efficiently, everyone benefits. The result is more efficient business operations, better use of space, and less friction within the workplace. These benefits and others snowball into facilities that pay for themselves.

How does corporate workplace space planning software help?

The sheer scale of many corporate workplaces can make it difficult to understand the needs of employees and the best allocation for space. That’s why software has become an imperative. Through corporate workplace space planning software administrators can easily create, iterate, and organize floor plans that heed the needs of the corporate workforce.

It’s not only the drag-and-drop nature of floor planning software that’s effective. As administrators build virtual floor plans, they can see real-time insights about space allocation—for example, that Marketing has 12 seats or HR space represents 18% of the total floor plan. This information folds over into other aspects of workplace architecting. It’s also essential in understanding cost allocation across business segments.

Space planning software also affords corporations additional benefits via integration. For example, it’s easy to assign seats to automatically populate a company directory or integrate the floor plan into a hoteling system. These features bring dynamic context to space planning and help administrators shape the workplace with agility.

Workplace space planning is imperative for corporations

Effective space planning takes no small amount of effort and forethought. It’s not enough to understand the needs of each business segment—corporations also need to establish them in context with one another. How can you allocate the right space to Sales and Marketing in a way that creates necessary synergy between them? Space planning is segment-specific and overarching.

Corporations that allocate resources and direct attention to space planning will put themselves in a position to support the many business units that drive the company forward. More than that, they’ll also create synergies that lead to efficiency, for exponential returns in the form of productivity, cost savings, and growth.

Keep reading: Corporate Workplace Stack Planning


Corporate Workplace Stack Planning

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

Managing corporate facilities can be a difficult task when the workplace sprawls across multiple floors, buildings, or geographic locations. It’s not always easy to see space allocation or the context that comes along with it. Enter: corporate workplace stack planning. No matter how large the company becomes, corporate workplace stack plans provide an easy-to-view 30,000-foot view of the company’s space delegation. It’s easy to see, at a glance, how each business segment fits into the broader context of the company’s facilities.

Stack planning is both informative and actionable. Administrators can use it to better-understand how space maps out across facilities. And, if there’s reason to change that allocation, the stack plan provides optionality for how to make necessary changes. It’s a necessary tool in the facility manager’s toolbox when it comes to optimizing the workplace and the operations that rely on it.

No matter the size of the corporation or the nature of its operations, it’s vital to understand how it’s supported by facilities. Here’s why the stack plan is so important, and how companies can use it to better-optimize space allocation and utilization.

What is corporate workplace stack planning?

Stack planning is an important part of configuring corporate facilities. It involves looking at space allocation through different lenses, to better-understand the composition of the workplace at-scale. Whether the corporate occupies a couple of floors, a couple of buildings, or an entire campus, the stack plan breaks down the space as-allocated.

As an activity, stack planning involves optimizing space allocation across facilities to meet the specific needs of the business. This includes recognizing where space is over- or under-allocated, and how that affects the balance of the workplace environment. For example, a company might see that 34% of its space in a building is occupied by Sales. As that department grows, a facility manager might choose to take space from nearby Document Storage, to reduce it from 16% to 10% of the stack plan and increase Sales to 40% and give new sales staff the space they need.

Stack planning is a gateway to making macro decisions about facilities. A top-down, encompassing view of space allocation helps workplace managers understand facilities and use them better.

Benefits of stack planning for the corporate workplace

Stack planning is a helpful practice for many reasons. It can help in space planning, cost attribution and allocation, and portfolio management. An encompassing view of facilities puts workplace managers in control of space at the departmental level, to ensure critical operations progress as-planned. Some of the other major benefits of stack planning for corporations include:

  • More efficient use of facilities, from both cost and operations standpoints
  • Better understanding of space allocation and utilization
  • Purposeful allocation of space to support the needs of employees
  • Context for broader facilities data such as utilization and occupancy
  • Insights and opportunities to repurpose or reallocate space
  • Smarter spatial layout of facilities, to streamline accessibility

Stack planning represents the highest level of space understanding. The broad figures it provides inform critical decision-making that aligns with the company’s mission. Whether it’s reallocating space as company operations shift or better-understanding the cost of space, corporations can use stack plans to shape an improved workplace.

How does corporate workplace stack planning software help?

While the concept of a corporate workplace stack plan is simple, it’s essential for companies to review it in a dynamic medium. Stack planning software affords insights and capabilities that simply aren’t possible with spreadsheets and paper floor plans.

The most important feature of stack planning software is the ability to look at space allocation through different lenses. How much total square footage does each department occupy? How many total desks? What’s the personnel count for each department? These variables all provide simple insights that have a profound outlook on how a corporation might choose to allocate or arrange space.

Sandboxing is another benefit of stack planning software that corporations need to take advantage of. The ability to reallocate space and determine appropriate chargeback to departments is an important tool in governing facilities from a cost standpoint. Sandboxing also provides insight into departmental costs based on the value of the square footage they occupy vs. revenue generation.

The many integrations of space planning software only serve to enhance its value. Administrators who can integrate stack plans into accounting software, floor plan modeling software, and various other software will benefit from access to more robust data about facilities and how to best govern them.

Stack planning gives corporations broad context for facilities

Corporations constantly grow and evolve, which means the workplace needs to adapt in tandem. A stack plan gives context to facilities: how they exist today and what opportunities exist as the company changes. As demands for space increase and change, facility managers can use the stack plan to inform themselves and make decisions about how to respond to the company’s new demands.

Corporate stack planning is a simple strategy that has the potential to yield significant insight. As corporations begin to understand space layout and allocation, they can find ways to optimize and improve it. The results can manifest in everything from better workplace synergies to improved ROI from facilities. It starts with understanding.

Keep reading: A Crash Course in Stack Planning


SMB Facilities Management

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

While small businesses don’t have the budgets or the resources that Fortune 500 companies do, they do have competitive advantages. Agility is one—particularly when it comes to physical workplaces. Small companies need to make the most of limited space and don’t have the luxury of allocating to X, Y, and Z. Instead, SMB facility management revolves around maximizing space through multipurposed governance, emphasis on space utilization, and ROI-minded decision-making.

SMB facilities management is as much proactive problem-solving as it is adapting. To keep the company agile and its workplace efficient, facilities managers at smaller companies need facilities that transform based on demand. This is only possible through intelligent space planning, workflow orchestration, keen workplace governance, and technology-driven operations.

Here’s a look at how smart SMBs approach facilities management and what it takes to keep facilities aligned with a company that’s growing—often quickly and on a tight budget.

What is small and midsize business (SMB) facilities management?

The goal of facilities management is to keep the workplace functional and efficient through smart governance. Do you have the right desking concept to enable productivity? Is there proper space allocation across different business units? Are the desks, chairs, and other workplace amenities comfortable and accommodating? Facilities management touches anything that enables employees to do their best work.

For SMBs, facilities management comes down to adapting the workplace to the changing needs of the business. As it grows larger and becomes more complex, the business’ operations will change—and so will the way it utilizes space. Facility managers recognize the need for change and help growing companies adapt by ensuring the workplace supports new operational demands.

Through strategic facilities management, SMBs are able to provide a safe, functional, comfortable, accommodating workplace that enables growth by enabling productivity. It turns the workplace into a true asset to justify the cost of overhead by increasing ROI.

Benefits of facilities management for SMBs

When approached with foresight and tact, facilities management unlocks a bevy of potential for small and growing businesses. Being proactive about facilities not only mitigates bottom-line costs, it can also raise the bar for top-line growth by enabling better productivity. Some of the most important benefits of facilities management include:

  • Safe and secure facilities that promote accessibility, yet safeguard access
  • Streamlined operations through better space efficiency and utilization
  • More affordable facilities and better budgeting for upkeep and maintenance
  • Better transparency when it comes to company operations and activities
  • Easier management, upkeep, and improvement for space across facilities
  • Better adaptability and more flexibility to accommodate business growth

To understand the complete scope of facilities benefits, companies need only to look at the focus areas of facilities management: technology, health and safety, culture, environment, maintenance, and operations support. Emphasis on strong facilities management practices equates to benefits in these areas—which ultimately serve to drive the company forward.

How does SMB facility management software help?

Facilities management has become an increasingly involved process as digital technologies connect physical workplace attributes to digital insights. The bridge between physical and digital comes in the form of SMB facility management software. Companies need a way to aggregate workplace data, cost information, maintenance and support tickets, and various other aspects of facility oversight. Software offers this centralized platform and gives administrators a window into understanding the workplace and its needs.

The chief benefit of management software is as a control dashboard. From floor plans and asset management to utilization insights and cost center monitoring, software brings facility insights together and makes them actionable. This helps not only facilitate responsiveness from facilities, it also ensures that the actions administrators take support the mission of the business in the right way.

Software also offers the added benefit of scaling with the company. As SMBs shift, evolve, and grow, their needs change just as fast. Facility management software follows this agility and allows workplace managers to act in tandem. Instead of waiting for the needs of the business to force changes in facilities, administrators can meet those needs proactively and with confidence. The result is a smoother, more stable path to growth and less time spent catching up.

Facilities management is the key to SMB growth

Used right, the workplace is a competitive advantage for any company. For small businesses especially, facilities are a foundation for growth and success, and support critical operations at-scale. To do this, they need to be as agile as the company, which takes keen emphasis on facilities management. The ability to plan for growing operations and take a cost-conscious approach to maximizing facilities is what gives SMBs an edge over larger companies.

Thankfully, facility management is becoming simpler for SMBs thanks to accessible software and a growing recognition of its importance. Any company poised for growth and reliant on facilities needs to look at their operations through the lens of facilities management and ask a simple question: how can well-managed facilities support a fast-growing company?

Keep reading: SMB Stack Planning


SMB Space Utilization

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

Small businesses don’t typically have huge budgets. Yet, they’re still burdened with the same costs as larger, more established companies. This is especially evident when it comes to facilities. Regardless of the size of the company, a lease costs the same. This often locks small businesses out of certain areas or restricts them to specific square footages. As a result, many small businesses need to make the most of what they have. Thus, SMB space utilization becomes an extremely important focus.

The ability of a small business to manage its space efficiently unlocks a slew of possibilities for growth. From cost savings to better productivity, small businesses with good utilization ratios will find more opportunities to maximize ROI.

The key to SMB space utilization is a focus on recognizing the need for space and allocating appropriately within facilities. It’s a dynamic process that can change frequently for growing SMBs—as often as operations demand it. Here’s what facility managers need to know about utilizing space at a growing small business.

What is small and midsize business (SMB) space utilization?

Space utilization is the ability of an SMB to use a given space efficiently. This is an imperative concept when you only have so much of it. The space you’re paying for needs to support company goals and the people working diligently to achieve them.

The measure of space utilization is simple: divide the number of hours of use by the total available hours of a space. For example, if you have a meeting room that’s available 10 hours a day, five days a week, 50 would be your denominator (total hours). If, in a given week, employees use the space for a combined 25 hours, the formula would be: 25/50=50%. Understanding utilization rates for various areas of the facilities or the workplace as a whole helps businesses understand the value of the space they’re paying for.

For small businesses, utilization yields important insights. How well are you utilizing space you’re paying for? What types of spaces see more use than others? What opportunities are there for better use of space? Small businesses can put these insights to work and reap the many benefits that come with good space utilization.

The benefits of space utilization for SMBs

SMB space utilization is both a metric and a mission. Understanding space utilization paves the way for pursuit of better values, which forces a growing small business to constantly evaluate its efficiency. Striving for better utilization and monitoring those efforts unlocks a world of potential for SMBs:

  • More efficient use of facilities, from both cost and operations standpoints
  • Better understanding of space allocation and utilization
  • Purposeful allocation of space to support the needs of employees
  • Context for broader facilities data such as utilization and occupancy
  • Insights and opportunities to repurpose or reallocate space
  • Smarter spatial layout of facilities, to streamline accessibility

Space utilization benefits spill over into other aspects of business operations. For example, giving employees the spaces they need/want will increase utilization, as well as productivity. Likewise, identifying poor utilization can lead to cost savings or top-line growth when that space is put to work more effectively. SMBs that put utilization data to work will find themselves better-positioned to thrive while remaining lean.

How can SMB space utilization software help?

While small businesses operate on stringent budgets, there are some investments too essential not to make. Space utilization software is among them. SMBs using facilities as a foundation for growth need the space utilization insights that come from robust software.

Software effectively provides the data used for facility-related decision-making. It enables the collection and aggregation of utilization information, and provides dashboard context that makes identifying patterns and trends simple. Administrators can easily see where utilization is too high or low, what types of spaces see the most use, peak utilization times, and more. It all folds into a contextual understanding of facilities and the power to drive better decisions about how to shape the workplace.

Though it comes with a cost, SMB space utilization software is a cost-management tool as much as an optimization resource. In shaping facilities with better space utilization rates, SMBs control lease costs and improve workplace ROI. It’s an opportunity to stay lean, yet enable growth.

Space utilization helps small business measure efficiency

Small businesses succeed when they’re able to stay lean and grow sustainably. Efficiency is key in everything, including space utilization. Utilization itself is an efficiency metric—one that’s relevant to the business’ largest cost center: facilities. Maximizing the ROI of facilities brings benefit to various aspects of small business operations, including its growth prospects.

A small business that prioritizes space utilization is one that’ll make the most of facilities and the opportunities that come with them. Because facilities touch every part of the business, efficiency here expounds to efficiency elsewhere. SMBs can ride that efficiency to growth, prosperity, and new opportunities—even when it comes time to relocate to newer, larger facilities.

Keep reading: SMB Stack Planning


SMB Stack Planning

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

As small businesses start to get bigger, so does their footprint. They go from a couple of offices to a full floor, then multiple floors to multiple locations, and so on. As the physical footprint increases, so does the need to understand it and allocate space to the core areas of the business driving growth. That’s where SMB stack planning comes into play.

SMB stack planning allows growing businesses to see, at a macro scale, the space that belongs to them and how they’re using it. It’s an important tool in optimizing what’s there and planning for the future. Whether from a cost or utilization standpoint, the stack plan provides SMBs the context they need to emphasize the most important parts of their growing business—and do it in a healthy way that doesn’t hamper the balance sheet.

Here’s a look at SMB stack planning, what it means to small businesses, and how to capitalize on the insights and context a stack plan offers.

What is small and midsize business (SMB) stack planning?

Stack plans for SMBs are a true top-down look at space allocation as a percentage of a whole. For example, looking at a stack plan, the business might be able to tell that 24% of its total space allocation goes to conference rooms. Or, it might see that hotel desks account for 56% of the total lease cost. These types of space and cost figures, juxtaposed against the whole of a workplace, give SMBs insights into the ability of the workplace to meet the needs of the business.

Stack planning also gives SMBs control over space allocation. If you look at a stack plan and discover that HR occupies 34% of total space but accounts for 14% of total operational space demands, you know you’ve got an imbalance. These types of insights allow SMBs to adjust and reallocate space to better support mission-critical operations.

Speaking of mission-critical operations, the needs of SMBs change as they scale. A stack plan allows administrators to make sure space allocation is proportionate to that growth. If you need to increase sales staff by 15% next quarter, it’s easy to look at a stack plan and assess whether there’s space for these employees—or if the allocation needs to change.

Benefits of stack planning for SMBs

Assessing and addressing the stack plan provides numerous benefits to SMBs—especially those in growth mode with changing needs. Businesses that understand their space allocation are better-equipped to coordinate facilities around operational demands. Adjusting the stack plan in alignment with the business’ needs results in a slew of benefits that help SMBs succeed:

  • More efficient use of facilities, from both cost and operations standpoints
  • Better understanding of space allocation and utilization
  • Purposeful allocation of space to support the needs of employees
  • Context for broader facilities data such as utilization and occupancy
  • Insights and opportunities to repurpose or reallocate space
  • Smarter spatial layout of facilities, to streamline accessibility

The most important benefit stack planning affords SMBs is the ability to recognize where space supports growth—and where opportunities exist to drive it. Small businesses relying on facilities as a foundational aspect of operations have the ability to shape a workplace that continually meets the needs, expectations, and demands of employees. The result is a more concerted approach to growth.

How does SMB stack planning software help?

To stack plan effectively, SMBs need access to the stack itself: the digital representation of their space allocation across facilities. The simplest way to access this data and the visual depiction of the stack is via SMB stack planning software. Software makes it easy for businesses to gather, aggregate, and visualize the real estate stack—and act on it.

The most important element of stack planning software is its ability to adjust based on new variables and inputs. For example, if a company wants to model expanding its facilities, reorganize space, or change its workplace concepts, it can feed that information into the software to see how the stack plan adjusts. This, in turn, ties into cost modeling, utilization metrics, and other important facility data. It’s a reliable way to understand and model facility changes before they actually take effect.

For growing SMBs, keeping tabs on the stack plan is imperative. As space demands shift and the company’s footprint grows, it’s important to understand how facilities calibrate. Stack planning software keeps this data readily available and provides it in context, through a variety of lenses including cost, space type, and general allocation. It’s invaluable as SMBs strive to stay apprised of their workplace.

Stack planning lends context to SMB facilities

No matter what phase of growth a business is in, it’s important to look at the next one and the steps needed to get from here to there. As SMBs scale, they rely on facilities to enable growth by supporting the segments of business driving that growth. A stack plan lends important context to facilities: how much space there is, how the business uses it, and where there’s opportunity to use it to fuel new growth.

Stack planning software might seem like an unnecessary expense for an SMB that’s constantly outgrowing its facilities. But, in fact, this is exactly what makes it a worthwhile one. The more oversight SMBs have when it comes to space, the more effective they can be in capitalizing on it.

Keep reading: SMB Space Utilization

Workplace Thought Leadership

Hybrid and Smart: Building the Workplaces of the Future 

By Michael Picini
Senior Executive Director
Cognitive Corp.

Now, perhaps more than ever, employers are seeking to enhance their approach to the workplace experience. They are embracing new trends, such as hybrid structures and smart buildings, to create what we like to call “digital workplace euphoria.”

Euphoria may seem like hyperbole, but happy employees make for successful businesses. We’re not talking about amenities like ping pong tables, free Friday lunches, and in-office theaters. The goal of a euphoric workplace is to transform barely there connected offices to intelligent, autonomous ecosystems that empower employees to their most productive and efficient while maintaining healthy work-life balances.

Research indicates that we are seeing much more of a radical change among companies reacting to the workplace trends. Leaders in companies may not respond to every human or occupant need, but certainly, they are reacting to create a more automated workplace for agile teams. One part of the “why” for proactive movement toward hybrid agile is the long-term impact on business.

Many companies are going through significant financial losses due to COVID-19. How companies navigate digital disruption will likely affect their revenues and future operations. During the crisis of the companies who saw a 25% growth in the revenues 72% were first to experiment with new technologies. As well, 67% of those companies invested more in digital-related expenditures, according to a 2020 report by McKinsey. The companies that had not taken steps are electing to embrace the productivity associated with remote work to help them recoup those costs of not doing so in the past.

Certain financial dependencies, like expiring office leases and stakeholder pressures, are pushing companies to make an immediate decision on how to proceed with digital based investments to create work environments conducive to agile work, from anywhere. According to a Gartner survey, 38% of tech, media, and telecom business leaders (and 26% of leaders across all represented industries) reported plans to reduce their real estate footprint by, for example, closing retail locations. Gartner also reported that 74% of CFOs and finance leaders at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions after COVID-19.

Why Companies Choose to Go Hybrid

Remote and hybrid work is not new, but it certainly hasn’t been as widespread as it is now. According to a Microsoft report, some professions have been trending toward remote work since the oil crisis of the 1970s that resulted in substantially higher commuting and automotive costs. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic drove a “profound increase in the magnitude and speed of the shift toward remote work, with 88% of organizations from around the world surveyed in March [2020] reporting that they were encouraging employees to work from home,” the report noted. More than a third of U.S. workers transitioned to remote or hybrid work between March and April 2020 alone.

Aside from the long-term impact on fiscal reports, this mass transition away from the confines of a 9-to-5 physical office is the other part of the “why” for companies looking to improve three key facets of the digital workplace: people, space, and technology.

The Workplace Mantra: People, Space, and Technology

Creating an environment for employees – or an investor’s case, tenants – that elicits a sense of euphoria is challenging but not impossible. How are companies tackling the digital workplace? There are three elements of an optimized workplace that one should consider.

The first starts with people. People form the community within an organization that will serve as the litmus test for successful digital workplace implementation.

The second element is technology, which acts as the catalyst for change and encompasses each tier of the Smart Building Maturity Model. Most buildings fall somewhere in between the connected and intelligent spaces of the model. From the Internet of Things (IoT) to artificial intelligence (AI), the infrastructure created by technology ultimately makes up the third element of an enhanced workplace: space.

Space doesn’t always refer to a physical location; it relates to the context in which people are working. Space can mean a geographically distributed footprint, flexible hoteling and co-working spaces within your organization, or a scalable real estate portfolio that allows you to set your physical and virtual space settings in a manner that best suits your internal method of operating.

Georgia-Pacific (GP) is one company that has fully embraced all three spheres of the optimized workplace, and by the way is one of the companies that experimented with digital based agile work long before the COVID-19 crisis. The Atlanta-based maker of paper, packaging, building products, and related chemicals resides in an iconic office tower. In the first major renovation since the company occupied the tower in 1982, GP aimed to achieve “optimal integration, functionality, cost and efficiency among the various systems throughout each floor – lighting, HVAC, audio-visual and room scheduling systems,” according to a company press release. The digital building transformation included an Internet of Things (IoT) foundation that resulted in economically feasible, purposeful automation carefully constructed for GP’s user base.

GP reported that the building uses “bio-dynamic (circadian) lighting in the office and collaboration areas, driven by network-connected lighting management. [GP] will respond to peak electrical demands by adjusting building systems. The interconnected system allows the company to collect accurate, real-time data to understand how the space is used, improve employee productivity and satisfaction, and increase real estate investment.”

Along with commercial offices, hospitality and education are two other industries that are exceptionally receptive to similar methods of in-house automation. Fortunately, platforms offered by companies like SpaceIQ offer businesses of all sizes and types of options to create digital workplaces that support agility and flexibility.

Hybrid Strategies for Working “Smart” and Hard

For many companies, leveraging hybrid strategies starts with creating smart buildings and workplaces.

Smart building(s) – both as a verb and a noun – is a partner of hybrid workplaces at the heart of the “next normal” regarding the future of work. Over the last year, companies worldwide have experienced a rapid shift to long-term hybrid and/or remote environments. From Human Resources (HR) to Information Technology (IT) to Marketing and beyond, the functional teams within these organizations are being driven to review their existing work practices and confirm that they align with employees’ current needs.

For some companies, this process may feel like an uncertain scramble – but it shouldn’t.

This moment presents an opportunity for organizations to revise their digital framework and create an even better workplace experience – one that encourages a positive return-to-office transition after a yearlong hiatus or, for remote and hybrid workers, a structure that compels them to engage virtually. Smart building is critical for both employees and executives to tap into the human side of work and reach peak satisfaction in the process of doing so.

As a company specializing in “smart building,” Cognitive Corp is at the forefront of researching and analyzing workplace trends and technologies that impact commercial real estate (CRE) teams.

So, what do we mean by “smart building?” In a word, automation.

Smart building implies that a company has a built-in infrastructure to automate as many day-to-day and long-term tasks as possible. Infrastructure can include IT and networks, HVAC, lighting, time-tracking, scheduling, and anything in between that has a digital footprint.

A key strategy is to distribute the levels of automation and smart building into four tiers on a visual pyramid called the Smart Building Maturity Model. This model helps companies prioritize based on current needs and future growth:

  • Connected Building: Connected building forms the foundation at the bottom of the pyramid. Most companies fall into this category, which includes basic IT networks and the commonplace technology you’d find in a standard office.
  • Intelligent Building: With system integration, energy efficiency, and building automation, intelligent building is what most companies strive for in their next-level smart building process. It can lead to more unified collaboration, better asset management, and streamlined workspace and remote services.
  • Smart Building: The core of the pyramid. Smart building includes open architecture, occupant interaction predictive analytics, which contributes to human centric workplace metrics, on-demand services, big data, and more elements of building intelligence. The future of work is already here, and smart building should be a consideration for most companies.
  • Cognitive Building: At the pinnacle of the pyramid we’ll find cognitive building. Here, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics are the vital pieces that drive building automation. While most non-technological companies do not aim for this high-level tier, we believe it’s still essential knowledge to know all the possibilities within the realm of intelligent architecture.

Data-driven Insights to Support the Hybrid Workplace

The digital workplace focuses on the occupant’s experience within a technological ecosystem. A successful digital workplace supports the human-centric side of corporate initiatives. Different personas within the commercial real estate industry will perform unique functions depending on their role in their organization. However, all roles utilize metrics to inform the progress of their digital transformation.

For individual roles, here are some items to consider:

  • Commercial Real Estate and Facilities Managers: Individuals entrusted with managing facilities should articulate workplace values about the broader business. This includes adapting to change, especially as it relates to the physical space. Your growth mindset should shift from fixed to fluid.
  • Workplace Professionals: As a workplace professional, try to develop strategies and tactics that support agile, flexible workplaces and employee experiences. Consider the wider range of knowledge available to you, beyond just “physical office” and “working from home.”

Workplace Euphoria is Frictionless

An agile, flexible workplace is no longer an option for most businesses; it is a requirement. Baseline metrics allow companies to see how initiatives eliminate employee and occupant stress during times of uncertainty, deliver on diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments, improve operational efficiency, and make remote work, workable.

Additionally, metrics shed light into the onboarding of new technologies, security automation, and workplace productivity. Workplace analytics provide a 360-degree view of any misaligned technology expectations. Embracing technology to create agility and flexibility in return to the workplace can result in euphoria for employers and employees.

Keep reading: What Are Smart Workplace Solutions?