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What is a Facility Officer?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

Officer is a title that commands a certain amount of respect. Whether it’s Officer Friendly who’s writing you a speeding ticket or the Chief Operating Officer at your company, we defer to officers for direction and leadership. There’s no different when it comes to facilities management.

What is a facility officer? While this title actually has different meanings depending on context—like what part of the world you work in—it nevertheless commands a certain amount of respect. Below, we’ll dive into what a facility officer is, what their roles and responsibilities are, and how they factor into the greater function of facilities management.

The many faces of a facility officer

Facility officer is often another way to describe a facility manager, and there are actually upwards of two dozen titles to describe a facility manager! Facility officer (or facility management officer) is most commonly used in the United Kingdom and Australia. It’s the international parallel to facilities manager—or whichever synonym best fits someone in charge of facilities upkeep, oversight, and maintenance.

There is one caveat to the role of “facility officer,” and that’s as a member of the C-suite. More and more, companies are promoting a Chief Facility Officer to the boardroom. This person operates in the same way a Chief Operating Officer might, only instead of focusing on operations, a Chief Facility Officer focuses on the systems that facilitate those operations: the facilities themselves.

Roles and responsibilities

Facility officers concern themselves with management, maintenance, and general upkeep of facilities. What is included in facilities management? According to the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), there are six clear areas of focus for a facility officer:

  1. Building technology (smart buildings)
  2. Employee health and safety
  3. Recruitment and training
  4. Environmental efforts
  5. Maintenance and upkeep
  6. Culture and social support

Each of these aspects factors into the broader role of facilities: to support the workforce that relies on them. It segues into an even more important question: what is the role of a facility manager? While the exact answer depends on the company in question, there’s a fundamental purpose that underscores this role in any setting.

The role of a facility manager (or facility officer) is to transform facilities from a cost center into a competitive advantage—turn one of the company’s largest single expenses into an asset. Facility professionals need to constantly look for ways to leverage facilities into ROI, whether that’s supporting employees or bottom-line cost-saving improvements.

The growing need for facilities leadership

Facility officers are quickly becoming in-demand positions for companies of all sizes. They help small companies make the most of limited facility resources and assist large companies keep their facilities costs in-check. They promote efficiency and workforce optimization for companies of any size.

The biggest driver for facility officers is the changing workplace landscape. Post-COVID-19, the workplace looks very different. While open-concept workplaces and hot desks were already standard pre-pandemic, they’re quickly giving way to more complex work environments that include free-assign workspaces, flex work schedules, and distributed teams. Companies need leadership within these new paradigms—both in how to utilize the workplace effectively and in the development of new processes and protocols. The task falls to facility officers.

There’s also the rising cost of commercial real estate to consider. Space is getting more expensive! That means companies need to work harder to utilize it more efficiently. Flexible desking concepts help maximize space utilization, but they’re not enough by themselves. Companies also need to implement new space management strategies and maximize building upkeep to stay competitive.

All these demands come with one very important caveat: facilities still need to support workers. This is at the heart of why demand for facility officers is growing. More than executing on changing workplace trends, companies need to act with purpose and mindfulness. Facility officers bridge the gap between change and purpose, so companies and employees alike can reap the benefits of a changing workplace.

Put someone in charge of facilities

Your company likely has a Chief Operating Officer (COO) and a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), among other leadership positions. Why not a Chief Facility Officer?

Facilities are a central part of operations and a major contributor to business success. It’s vital for companies to put someone at the helm of their facilities, in a leadership position to coordinate the many facets of facilities upkeep and optimization. It’s not only a smart way to prioritize facilities—it’s becoming an essential role as companies lean into optimization aspects of a commercial real estate strategy.

Keep reading: What is a Facility Maintenance Manager’s Scope of Work?

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What is the Average Salary for a Facilities Manager?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

One of the first things any job-seeker wants to know when applying for a position is what it pays. Unfortunately, this information isn’t always apparent—especially for an emerging position like facilities manager. Some job posts offer a salary range; others say things like “salary varies with experience.” For professionals interested in a career in facilities management, this isn’t helpful. It begs the question: what is the average salary for a facilities manager?

While there’s bound to be some variance in facilities manager salary across different regions, industries, and company sizes, it’s still worth knowing what the average salary is. We’ve collected data for facilities managers across the spectrum to shed more light on realistic salary expectations. Below, we’ll dive into salary information and what makes facilities management such a good career option for the future.

What is a facility manager? 

A facility manager can go by many different names, depending on the company and the core responsibilities they’re hiring for. Ultimately, the role of a facility manager is to bridge the gap between facilities and the people who use them. The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) splits the duties of a facility manager into six key areas of focus:

  1. Building technology (smart buildings)
  2. Employee health and safety
  3. Recruitment and training
  4. Environmental efforts
  5. Maintenance and upkeep
  6. Culture and social support

From emergency preparedness planning to coordinating janitorial services, scheduled HVAC maintenance to seasonal property services, facilities management spans hard and soft services. Hard services keep facilities up and running; soft services directly affect employees and visitors.

Facility managers are ultimately responsible for leveraging the company’s largest cost center (facilities) into a competitive advantage.

Salary data for facilities managers

According to data compiled from Salary.com, PayScale.com, and Glassdoor, the average salary of a facility manager ranges significantly depending on the size of the company and its location in the U.S. Below is a compilation of salary data with context to provide a better understanding of what to expect when applying for this position.

  • The average facilities manager salary in the United States is $99,103
  • Experienced facilities managers can expect to earn between $84,964 and $113,381
  • Average starting salary for a new facility manager is $66,776
  • Multinational companies like Amazon and Oracle offer salaries as much as 10% higher
  • Companies in major cities like Chicago and New York pay premiums as high as 20%

Education, certifications, skills, and years of experience all impact salary. In addition, industry plays a role. Data indicates that companies with heavy real estate portfolios value experienced facility managers more. Likewise, complex industries like aerospace and supply chain management pay higher than average annual salaries.

Perhaps most enticing about the salary data for facilities management is the jump from facility manager to facility director or Chief Facility Officer. These roles command an average salary of $130,102, spanning a range of $113,502 and $148,207. With strong potential for upward mobility in this industry, future salary is worth considering for facility managers seeking to establish a career.

Job outlook and future prospects

Is facilities management a good career? According to a report from Markets and Markets, now’s a good time to get into the field. A five-year forward-looking report on the facilities management job market predicts growth “from $39.5 billion in 2020 to $65.5 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.6%.

Not only are job prospects bright, an evolving commercial real estate (CRE) industry has shed new light on the importance of good facilities management. Facilities managers are more in demand than ever before and are growing more important by the day. The rise of the office IoT and smart buildings, coupled with flex work and free assigned workspace trends, is pushing companies to make strategic real estate investments. One of the most essential is an investment in a facility manager who can maximize CRE assets and minimize costs.

The job market is bright for facilities managers, growing brighter with each passing year. There’s ample opportunity for new entrants into the field, as well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are as many as 26,300 new openings for facilities managers annually, but only 21,200 new candidates to fill them. It’s still an untapped job market.

Why is facilities management so important?

There’s a reason companies are willing to pay strong salaries to facilities managers. Consider the cost savings of proper space utilization or free assigned workplace management. Think about the revenue opportunities for a well-managed agile workforce. Imagine the ROI from proper building maintenance. In capable hands, facility management has the power to offset the cost of a facility manager’s salary.

Demand for facilities managers is on the rise, which means salaries will likely become more competitive as time goes on. Now’s a great time to weigh the benefits of a career in facilities management against an average salary that’s already enticing.

Keep reading: How to Become a Facilities Manager

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How Can Facility Management Reduce Costs?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

One of the clear and present challenges facilities managers face during the COVID-19 pandemic is one of cost management. How can facility management reduce costs at a time when social distancing hampers space utilization? For most companies, the answer lies in space optimization. It’s a concept that’s easier talked about than implemented.

To optimize available space in a way that justifies cost, facilities managers need to explore alternative desking solutions and new forms of workplace management. This means free assigned workstations and agile workspaces, backed by practices like hoteling and shift delegation. At the center of it all is FM software. But these are only the ingredients for smarter facilities management. Here are a few concepts workplace managers can execute to reduce cost without putting drag on employees.

Consider cost of ownership for each workspace

Social distancing has thrown many workspaces into disarray. To reduce the cost of managing and maintaining space, understand exactly what that space costs to operate. What is the raw cost per square footage? What is the cost per head in your office? Calculate these new figures for context on workplace costs and the opportunities that exist to reduce them.

For example, you might realize that your 10-person conference room now costs more to operate as a six-person conference room. Would changing it to a six-person hoteling area justify the cost of ownership? Likewise, you might recognize the potential for a completely free assigned workplace as the means to accommodate fewer in-house workers, instead of wasting cost on static space that would otherwise go unused. It’s only possible to understand these options in the context of total cost of ownership for each space.

Adopt and adapt to free assign and flex spaces

Social distancing is quickly heralding the death of static office workspaces. The reason? Traditional desking is a 1:1 ratio, limiting the capabilities of a given workspace. A space with independent desking can’t conform to the needs of a group, for example, which limits the type of work employees can do in that space. As social distancing further limits occupancy, static workspaces face obsolescence.

Free assign and flex spaces are the future. The ability to transform a space to meet the needs of employees, rather than force them to conform to the space, ushers in more prospects for space utilization. Better utilization over a variety of desking concepts makes these agile workspaces more cost-effective.

Use software to maximize facilities

For a data-driven, quantitative approach to cost reduction, look no further than facility management software. Software allows facilities managers to manage space within the context of need, which goes hand-in-hand with the adoption of free assign and flex workspaces. Use software to gauge metrics like occupancy rate and utilization in the context of cost per head and the new cost of square footage. Then, use these insights to power more cost-effective decisions about how to use and manage space.

Software is also the foundation for cost-saving initiatives related to facilities upkeep. Create recurring tasks for space sanitization. Set up support ticketing to keep workspaces tended and functional. Use daily, weekly, and monthly reports to recognize and address hidden costs. Software illuminates cost reduction opportunities in workplaces emphasizing bottom-line savings during the pandemic.

Create a frictionless experience

Think about every workspace as an incubator for work. The more conducive it is to employees and their needs, the better the ROI. This is why a frictionless workplace experience is so important. The quicker you can get your employees to settle and back to work, the better their productivity is and the higher the ROI of that specific space.

Manage every workspace as an individual incubator and identify obstacles and points of friction that may grate on employees. This is where hoteling comes in handy, as well as wayfinding software that includes real-time occupancy updates. Facilities managers need to flex employees into spaces, accommodate their needs, provide sanitization services, and turn around a workspace fluidly. Address points of friction to generate cost savings via better space management.

Plan long-term, for the new norm

Facilities costs aren’t tied to COVID-19. In fact, there are strong indicators commercial real estate (CRE) is entering an expensive period, which means more companies will need to look at space from a cost standpoint. As they do, the question becomes, “are we justifying the cost of our space?” The answer lies in how well it’s optimized.

Free assign and flex spaces will define the future of workplace management, while hoteling and agile teams set the tone in facilities. Companies that master these concepts today will succeed in the future, as CRE trends blossom and space becomes even more expensive. Reducing facilities management costs today means more opportunities to capitalize on space in the future.

Keep reading: How to choose the best facility management software

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Why Would a Facility Want to Hire a Facility Management Company?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

Every company wants to save money. Bottom line savings can be elusive, which makes it important to spend consciously and save wherever possible. So why would a company want to hire a facility management company and spend the (sometimes) significant costs associated with facilities upkeep? For one simple reason: because the cost of not maintaining facilities is even greater.

The workplace touches every part of business. Leaving facilities to languish or under-maintaining them generates costs that companies can’t always anticipate—most of them avoidable. A facility management company puts the many priorities of facilities first, so they come together in the ways employees need them to.

Why do we need facility management?

Think of the workplace like a second home for your employees—largely because it is. Most full-time employees spend a minimum of 40 hours a week at work (often more). And while we’re living in a new work-from-home era, the workplace is still most people’s “second place.” Facility management keeps employees’ home-away-from home neat and tidy, while ensuring it meets their needs and expectations for work.

Imagine asking employees to do their best work at a dingy desk that has an overflowing trash can beside it, or asking a 10-person team to cram into a four-person workspace and collaborate comfortably. It’s not reasonable! It’s the duty of every company to provide a workplace that’s clean, comfortable, accommodating, and safe.

Why outsource facilities management?

Not every company has the means to provide an encompassing level of facilities management in-house. The decision to outsource to facilities management companies depends on a lot of factors, including cost, talent availability, technology, or size of facilities, to name a few. They might not have on-staff craftspeople or facility management software—or, the cost of investing in these resources might not make sense.

The other major reason to outsource facilities management is for sheer convenience. Facilities require a lot of oversight. The ability to delegate most or all of this oversight to a company whose sole focus is to deliver a superior standard of service often makes sense. The less a company has to focus on facilities, the more attention it can devote to other mission-critical efforts.

Software offers an intermediate opportunity

For companies that don’t necessarily want to invest fully in a management company or keep everything in-house, facility management software is a great compromise. There are opportunities within different applications to streamline in-house, low-level management and upkeep for facilities, as well as tools that help manage contracts and service-level agreements (SLAs) with vendors and management companies.

For example, a support ticket system can route everyday employee requests to in-house staff for quick attention and resolution—refilling towels in the bathroom, replacing light bulbs, fixing a broken door, and the like. Conversely, enterprise asset management (EAM) software is useful for recordkeeping when it comes to vital building systems, and allows in-house staff to outsource work to a service provider with timeliness and specificity (we need X performed by Y date).

Software itself is an investment, but one that generates strong ROI when leveraged into a broad facility management plan.

Consider integrated facility management

One of the best reasons to work with a facilities management company is to create an integrated facilities management approach. Integrated facilities management is the practice of consolidating services and costs into a single umbrella provider (or as few as possible). It’s a method of simplifying facility management so there are fewer SLAs, more consistent terms, and a well-established partnership with defined expectations.

Integrated facilities management is popular among companies that want to outsource as much as possible to a facility management company. It’s a form of automation, with the expectation that the chosen facilities partner will tackle everything: from proactive maintenance to reactive repairs, as well as budgeting, capital planning, and reporting of core facilities metrics.

Make the investment in facilities

While bottom line savings and cost-conservation are important initiatives for a company, so are strategic investments. Few investments offer a broader return than an investment in facilities and a partner to help maintain and manage them. Even companies with a facilities manager and craftspeople on-staff need to consider the benefits of working with a partner to emphasize total facilities management.

As we enter a pivotal time for commercial real estate and space management, facilities upkeep is only becoming more important. Delegating upkeep or leaning on a service partner to maximize facilities is a smart investment for the present and future.

Keep reading: Quick Facility Management Guide for Beginners

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What is a Facility Maintenance Manager’s Scope of Work?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

On the surface, facilities maintenance seems like a self-contained concept. But what is a facility maintenance regimen like? What purpose does it serve in the greater scheme of business operations?

Facility maintenance goes beyond fixing broken doors or keeping up on HVAC maintenance. It’s a cumulative, complete oversight of everything that keeps a building running on a day-to-day basis. It considers every element of facilities, deals with duty delegation, involves internal and external personnel, and leverages facilities into strategic operational plans. To say facilities maintenance touches every element of a business isn’t an overstatement, and to understate its importance is a major mistake.

Take a look at what goes into facility maintenance and how inclusive and comprehensive this aspect of business success really is.

Types of building maintenance

What are examples of facilities maintenance? Typically, facilities tasks break down into different categories depending on frequency and severity, with considerations made for aspects like cost, complexity, and whether in-house craftspeople or vendors will assume the duty. For most facilities, the different types of building maintenance break down into the following:

  • Scheduled facility maintenance plans: Items you can plan ahead for and put on the calendar.
  • Unscheduled maintenance: Issues that occur outside of planned maintenance.
  • Emergency maintenance: Unscheduled issues that require timely attention.
  • Capital improvements: High-cost, complex modifications outside of the routine.

It’s up to facility managers to categorize maintenance and act appropriately. For example, groundskeeping during the summer months might be on the schedule every Tuesday and Saturday, while a burnt-out lightbulb might come in as a support ticket filed as unscheduled maintenance.

Emergency maintenance items are usually those that pose health hazards or danger to individuals if left unresolved—de-icing the entryway stairs during winter. Capital improvements usually require collaboration with other stakeholders and budget oversight committees.

Hard vs. soft services

Different types of building maintenance get different priority—usually depending on whether they’re a hard or soft service. We’ve covered hard and soft facility maintenance services previously. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Hard services deal with the building itself (HVAC, plumbing, electrical)
  • Soft services affect operations and people (janitorial, waste management, décor)

While both are important, hard services generally take precedence over soft services because they’re considered vital and emergent. Costs associated with hard services tend to rise the longer they’re unresolved.

Who does the work?

How do you maintain a facility? It’s a good question—especially as facilities become larger and more complex. For small companies, an in-house team might be able to accomplish most basic maintenance; however, as companies grow, they’ll need to lean on more people and broader skillsets to keep a building up-to-standard.

Facilities managers head up building maintenance initiatives and are largely responsible for delegating maintenance tasks. They rely on different groups for support:

  • In-house facilities staff: Tasked with basic, timely maintenance items.
  • Contracted craftspeople: Tasked with complex, urgent maintenance items.
  • Approved vendors (SLA): Tasked with routine, ongoing maintenance items.

Delegation occurs in many ways. Support ticketing is often used as the in-house means of allocating maintenance work. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) create schedules and scopes of work for outside venders to adhere to. Most facility managers also have a network of contract craftspeople they can call on for reputable service.

There’s also the concept of integrated facilities management, which combines as much maintenance work as possible under a single vendor umbrella, to streamline cost and quickness.

Facility maintenance considerations

The last question to ask is… why? Why is it so important to keep up on facility maintenance and dedicate such broad resources and attention to a building? Is this focus on overhead really worth it?

Absolutely. Facilities touch every part of a company’s operations and are integral to the strategic initiatives it puts forth. Without a well-run, well-maintained workplace, a company lacks a significant asset and might even find itself facing a major hindrance to success. A facility manager effectively has two goals:

  • Operational: Create a safe, accessible, comfortable, useful environment for employees, visitors, and clients.
  • Strategic: Assist the company in meeting broad revenue goals and KPIs through conscious overhead management.

Facilities maintenance is cumulative. Every task accomplished adds up to facilities that run right, which paves the way for employees to do their best work, which allows a company to grow and succeed. Nothing is more important than a well-maintained, sturdy foundation—for most companies, that foundation is their facilities.

Facilities demand constant upkeep

The most impressive aspect of facility maintenance is that it’s ever-present. Facility upkeep happens daily and requires a forward-looking approach to stay ahead of emerging needs. While a facilities manager may oversee and coordinate facility maintenance, it takes an entire team to execute tasks at every level.

The irony of great facility maintenance is that, done right, it often goes unnoticed. When everything works as it should, frictionless and unencumbered, employees, visitors, and anyone else interacting with facilities will have a seamless experience. It’s a reward well worth the investment of time, energy, and capital.

Keep reading: Get Familiar with a Facility Maintenance Plan

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Operation and Maintenance Plans for Buildings

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

Spend more than a day in the corporate world and you’ll quickly discover that standard operating procedures (SOPs) are the keys to success. They’re the backbone every business builds their processes and expectations on—from how to log into the company Wi-Fi to what you should do in the event of an emergency. SOPs can range in complexity and applicability, but none quite rival the grand-daddy of them all: the operation and maintenance plan for buildings.

The operations plan for a building isn’t one single SOP—it’s the cumulative collection of all vital standards and processes. Think of it like the bible for facilities governance. Whether you’re practicing a fire drill or planning to upgrade the building’s HVAC, the building’s operation and maintenance plan holds the answers to important questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how?

Here’s a look at the collection of operations and building maintenance plans that comprise the core SOP for every major business.

Facilities operation plan

A facilities operation plan (FOP) details, at length, the many processes and approaches associated with the management of facilities. It contains everything from descriptions of the building and campus, to sections for different aspects of property maintenance, to standards for upkeep, and beyond. These plans are often dozens of pages—sometimes even hundreds—or split between individual facilities for larger organizations. It sets the expectations, standards, and precedents for broad facilities management.

An FOP will also cover standards and practices for how employees interact with facilities at a fundamental level. For example, this might include an SOP for issuing badges to new employees. It also includes a complete resource guide and information for facilities managers, service departments, vendors, and other points of contact regarding facilities services.

Building maintenance plan

Building maintenance plans are sometimes part of the FOP, sometimes broken out as a separate plan. They focus specifically on the upkeep of a building—from nightly janitorial services, to seasonal groundskeeping, to HVAC, plumbing, and electrical. Maintenance plans offer both preventive and reactive guidance for building maintenance, including schedules for routine service and action plans for vital system failures.

More and more, these plans also include some level of life cycle planning and enterprise asset management (EAM), so companies can anticipate future facility needs. In a digital space, they might have a digital twin of the building or its core assets. These elements blend with budget and SLA plans, discussed later in this post.

Emergency action plans

Health and safety are a pillar of facilities management and thus, deserve specific attention during the planning process. Also called business continuity planning, emergency action planning involves creating specific processes to ensure employee safety and welfare in the event of a catastrophic incident. This involves planning for fire, flood, active shooters, electrical outages, and geographic-specific situations, like earthquakes or blizzards. Emergency action plans identify the threat, provide specific instructions for how to avoid harm, and delegate action to key stakeholders.

Emergency action plans also involve practice planning. They’ll include schedules for things like fire drills, as well as equipment maintenance checks—sprinkler systems, emergency lighting, backup generators, fire extinguishers, and other relevant emergency systems.

Budgets and SLAs

Because building maintenance planning is so extensive and covers so many essential elements of facilities, there’s a need to budget accordingly. Every facet of maintenance costs money, and it’s in the best interests of companies to plan as far ahead as possible for facilities expenditures. As a result, many businesses make budgeting and service-level agreements (SLAs) part of their operation and maintenance plans.

Budgeting plans are the straightforward process of anticipating costs—often quarterly or annually. This ensures companies spend appropriately and have a metric to track facilities spending vs. expectations. Likewise, SLAs provide an accurate picture of what a company is paying vendors for services and the expectation for ROI. Budgeting and SLAs become independently important as companies consider an integrated facility management approach rooted in consolidating the cost of upkeep.

Planning is the backbone of facilities management

Every aspect of operation and maintenance deserves a plan. Good SOPs ensure preparedness in the event of disruption to facilities. Everyone will know what to do and what their responsibilities are.

Where’s the nearest fire exit and who’s the building’s fire marshal? What’s the budget for building capital improvements this year? What’s the process for hotel desk management during the post-COVID-19 back-to-work strategy? Answers to these questions reside in the building’s operation and maintenance plans. And, if they don’t, it’s up to facilities managers to document the standards and practices that make every situation one you’re prepared for in the future.

Keep reading: Get Familiar with Common and Potential Facility Issues

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Six Important Flex Work and Hot Desking Stats

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

As the workplace adapts to COVID-19 and the much-anticipated new norm following it, employers are looking for insights to guide their workplace adaptation. As we’ve seen already, a flexible approach appears to be the best one. Companies are freely experimenting with non-traditional scheduling, repurposed workspaces, and distributed teams. Still, data is key in qualifying empirical evidence. It’s why there’s rising demand for hot desking stats. Companies embracing flex desks and other flexible workspace arrangements want to know if it’s working.

Key hot desking statistics indicate that a flexible approach to workplace management is an effective one. Here’s a look at six telling stats and what they mean contextually for workplaces as companies pivot to welcome the new norm.

78% of employees said flexible work arrangements made them more productive

People want the ability to work in the capacity that best suits them. This has long been the idea behind flex work and it’s evident in the feedback—both qualitative and quantitative. In the age of the multigenerational workforce, non-traditional schedules, and technological innovations, sticking to the one employee, one desk concept can seem a little like forcing a square peg into a round hole.

Give employees the freedom to utilize their work environment in the way that meets their needs and the result is clear. More than three quarters of them will find ways to be more productive and efficient, doing their work comfortably and expediently.

73% of employees said flexible work arrangements increased their satisfaction at work

Not only are people more efficient when given hot desking and other flex work opportunities, they’re happier! It’s hard to quantify happiness and it means something different for everyone, but such a large consensus seems to affirm that flex work means something to a broad range of people.

Whether it gives them the freedom and flexibility they need or it helps them find utility and comfort in their workplace, employees are happier when hot desks are available to them. Nearly three quarters of people agree on this desking concept. What other topic can you think of that garners this kind of majority from such a diverse group of people (working professionals)?

20% of full-time employees lack tools to make using flexible work arrangements easy and productive

Now for some bad news. While popular and proven, companies still find it difficult to manage hot desks and flex work. Many simply aren’t used to this level of dynamism in the workplace—employees on the move, workspaces flexed into and out of. Roughly one in five companies can’t keep up.

There is a solution: hot desking software. Companies willing to make the commitment to hot desking and flex work also need to commit to investing in the tools and infrastructure to support them. This means software. Facilities managers need the tools and resources to be able to see, adapt, and serve agile workplaces in real-time—a feat that’s only possible with workplace management software and other tech solutions geared toward hot desks.

As many as 67% of small businesses offer some form of flexible work arrangements

Despite uncertainties and the general unfamiliarity of hot desking, companies have embraced it—especially during COVID-19. With far more than half implementing some form of remote work arrangement, hot desking is now broadly available to working professionals. It’s equivalent to rolling a snowball from the top of a hill. Change begets change, as we’ll see in the next statistic.

The shift to flex work solutions like hot desking offers practical benefits to businesses, at a time when they need them most. Lower overhead. Better space utilization. A happier, more productive workforce. These factors hone a competitive edge for small businesses. It’s why more and more are delving into hot desking.

77% of employees consider flexible work arrangements when evaluating future job opportunities

As more companies offer flex work and involve hot desking into the mix, more employees become comfortable and successful in this type of work environment. That success spreads as people leave jobs and start new ones. Eventually, hot desking isn’t anything special—it’s the new norm and something professionals expect.

More than three quarters of working professionals see hot desking and other flexible work arrangements as an incentive. Companies that offer them will attract new talent, embrace better company culture, and enable new hires and long tenures alike to succeed. The workforce is beginning to demand more; flex work is a simple way to give it to them.

As much as 40% of an office’s dedicated desk space sits unused on a given day

Want to talk about practical benefits? Consider how much desk space sits idle on a daily basis in static workplaces. When employees are tethered to their desk, every other desk becomes isolated. Absentee employees, reserved desks, overflow seats, and more all become dead space—and dead cost.

Hot desks address the threat of dead space. They reduce overall seating and introduce flexibility, simultaneously ensuring a place to sit and shaving dead cost from the company’s overhead. A shift to hot desks isn’t solely about employee satisfaction and productivity—it’s also a prudent cost-savings initiative.

There’s plenty of room to discuss hot desking advantages and disadvantages. But the facts don’t lie—there’s merit to the freedom hot desking provides to adapting workforces. Hot desking is a viable, effective strategy for coping with the fallout of COVID-19 and stands to be the go-to desking philosophy for companies post-pandemic as a result.

The above statistics were compiled from a Zenefits (Workest) survey and an Inc. article, titled “Here’s What Happens When You Take Away Dedicated Desks for Employees.”

Keep reading: What is Hoteling in the Workplace?

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Is Free Office Space Planning Software Worth it?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

It seems silly to ask if free office space planning software is worth it—it’s free! There’s zero drawback in trying out a free program, especially if it provides meaningful resources to a facilities manager. But price isn’t necessarily the best way to gauge worth. Instead, consider return on investment. What benefits does free space planning software offer opposed to paid software, and how does the return on investment stack up between the two?

An abundance of free options

There’s no shortage of free office space planning software out there. Before you download, sign up, or otherwise commit to one, consider what type of free software it actually is.

  • Open-source: Open-source programs are often genuinely “free.” They cost nothing to sign up for and don’t restrict any features. They also tend to offer broad customization opportunities via open-source APIs. The downfall is often the lack of features or the polished feel you might get from a premium option.
  • Freemium: The freemium model is akin to the “pay for what you need” model of software. Freemium programs provide a baseline set of tools and capabilities for basic users, then charge for more advanced features. For facilities managers looking to “try” a space planning system, it’s a no-risk introduction to something bigger.
  • Free trial: Most paid space planning software platforms offer a free trial, ranging from seven to 30 days. This software isn’t truly “free,” but offers broad, powerful capabilities to facility managers experimenting with digital space planning. The drawback is that once your trial is over, you lose even the basic features.

The right free office space software solution often depends on the size of the organization and the demands of facilities managers. Do you need a few core features to get you by or powerful, polished features you’re willing to eventually pay for?

Every company’s ROI will differ

The solutions offered by space planning software are scalable, which means every company’s ROI will differ. Startup A might use the basic features of an open-source program to generate X% bottom-line savings via reduced overhead. Meanwhile, Enterprise Company B might explore a free trial that helps them automate major parts of facilities management. The difference in ROI might be as great as a few thousand dollars to a few million dollars annually—not to mention hard-to-quantify improvements.

Ongoing opportunities for ROI

Free office space planning is a great foray into the world of paid software solutions. Theoretically, a company that benefits from free office planning software will eventually develop a need for more robust features and capabilities. This is actually another example of ROI.

A startup using open-source planning software to its maximum benefit will outgrow that software as it begins to reap the benefits of it. As it grows into demand for paid software, it resets the ceiling for benefits. In this way, space planning software establishes a perpetual system for ROI as it helps facilities managers get better and better at what they do, to improve a company’s efficiency and bottom-line growth.

Set your expectations for free tools

Small companies that might be floored by the free features available to them. The jump from polylining to digital floor plan creation is significant! Over time, however, these expectations can change, and it’s important to realize that. Facilities managers may find themselves wishing for stack planning or utilization reporting—prospects free software may not offer.

It’s the job of a facility manager to find and use tools consistent with their needs and expectations. Often, this means looking beyond free resources and into paid solutions. The reality is, free tools only go so far. As expectations and demands increase, the capabilities of free software stay the same or grow at a slower pace.

Is free software worth it?

Let’s revisit the original question. Is free office space planning software worth it? Absolutely. Whether as an introduction to digital facilities management or the means to more robust workplace oversight, it’s hard to find fault in free resources.

The caveat of using a free tool is a compromise in total capability. For some, this won’t be a problem; for others, it necessitates a conversation about when free solutions transition into paid ones. To contextualize it all, look at ROI. How is free software helping you? How could paid software help you even more? Does it make sense to make that leap?

A free space panning system serves a vital role no matter the company or its demands for digital workplace resources. Knowing where it fits within the ecosystem and forward-looking plans of your company will determine how you use it. Consider features, need, and ROI; then, consider what free software can do for you.

Keep reading: Space Planning Software Buyers and Info Guide

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Why is Employee Experience Important?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

Consider buying a new car. It’s an experience that’s notoriously frustrating—one most people dread. They hate pestering salesmen, haggling over price and interest rates, and signing dozens of documents. By the time they drive off the lot, most people are too exhausted to enjoy their purchase. The experience was simply draining. It’s the same concept for employee experience in the workplace.

Why is employee experience important? Because, unlike the experience of buying a car, you want employees to feel good coming to work! They shouldn’t dread the walk up to the building or feel tension when they sit down at a desk. They shouldn’t leave feeling drained at the end of the day. A good employee experience can prevent these negatives from ruining the productivity, comfort, and cohesiveness of an otherwise great workplace.

What is employee experience?

Employee experience is a self-explanatory term. It’s how your employees feel about their employment. Only in the past five years or so has employee experience become quantified as the sum of culture, technology, and workplace—though it’s most often correlated with the workplace, since that’s where all these variables come together.

In a genuine sense, employee experience is about making employees excited, proud, happy, and confident in and of the work they do. Companies capable of doing this create a positive employee experience; companies that fall short may deliver a negative or unexciting experience to workers. It’s an outcome largely dictated by the willingness and ability to meet and exceed employee needs, expectations, and standards.

10 reasons why employee experience matters

Every company wants happy employees, but employee experience goes far beyond making people happy. It’s about attaining the benefits that come along with happy, engaged, productive employees. Here are 10 reasons why employee experience matters and why it pays to create a positive one.

  1. Attract and retain talent. Skilled employees want to work in a place that embraces and supports them. A good experience means everything to someone who can punch their own ticket.
  2. Create camaraderie. A company’s workforce needs to function as a team. Bad employee experience can push people apart; good shared experiences bring them together.
  3. Enable work support. A good experience empowers employees to try their best. If their workplace projects an air of support, employees will feel confident about their work and less afraid of failure.
  4. Improve engagement. Employees with a positive view of their workplace enjoy a certain level of excitement about their job. They’re attentive and engaged, ready to do their best.
  5. Foster collaboration. Given a positive experience collaborating with their peers, employees won’t be afraid to ask for help, provide guidance, or work together—especially in an environment that supports them.
  6. Inspire creativity. Positivity breeds creativity. The ability to think clearly and creatively leads to benefits for businesses and employees alike. That creativity breeds innovation, which leads to growth.
  7. Prioritize wellbeing. If a workplace weighs heavy on someone, they’ll suffer under the weight of spending 40 hours a week there. Promoting a positive employee experience can impact mental health for the better.
  8. Feed the bottom line. A positive employee experience boosts the bottom line through everything from better efficiency to a higher caliber of work done. Happy employees drive revenue growth.
  9. Bolster company image. People talk. When the topic of work arises and employees say only good things, that word of mouth becomes part of the ethos of the company, and perception is often reality.
  10. Grow professionally. Employees who feel good about where they work grow in their professional endeavors. They do more, learn more, and feel comfortable taking on responsibility.

These benefits are all contingent on a positive experience and erased by a negative one. Return to the car analogy from above. If you have a wonderful experience at the dealership, you might be more willing to recommend them to a friend or pay a little extra for features you might not have otherwise. A bad experience may see you leave the lot without buying a car at all! From the moment of arrival to the moment of departure, experience means everything—especially for employees.

Reap the benefits of a great employee experience

At the end of the workday, positive employee experience has a direct correlation to business success. Employees who feel comfortable, welcome, accommodated, and empowered return this positive energy into the work they do, the interactions they share, and the company culture. These factors contribute to a business’ bottom line.

Pay close attention to employee experience in the workplace. Do they show up and leave in a good mood? Can they work efficiently and productively? Do they immerse themselves in the workplace? Look for the hallmarks of a good experience and address facets of the workplace where there’s friction, tension, and other negative sentiments.

Keep in mind that all people don’t need to be happy all the time, but an employee’s experience with their workplace should never be the reason they’re unhappy. If it is, it’s time to reshape the workplace and the experience.

Keep reading: Workspace Optimization Shouldn’t Compromise Employee Experience

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How Can Smart Space Planning Software Improve Workplaces?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

Given 1,000 square feet of office space, how would you use it effectively? The answer will be different depending on who you ask. Open-concept benching. Partitioned workspaces for hoteling. Accommodations for flex workers and distributed teams. Desking concept, occupancy, floor plan layout, and multitudes of other variables all come together to define space utilization on a case-by-case basis. It’s no wonder smart space planning software is a must-have for today’s facility managers.

It’s not only about how you design a workplace, but how you manage it on a day-to-day (or even hour-by-hour) basis. As the workplace becomes more and more dynamic and distributed, smart software helps workplace managers keep a firm grip on governance. Today, it’s the “smart” aspects of space planning software that matter most.

What is smart space planning software?

Space planning software helps workplace and facilities managers design, oversee, and optimize the workplace and the individual workspaces that comprise it. Space planning touches every aspect of the workplace, from how it’s designed to how it’s used. Some functions include:

  • Desking concepts
  • Floor plan design
  • Space furnishing
  • Space management
  • Utilization reporting

Smart space planning software does everything digital space planning software does, only better—more intuitively. It doesn’t just tell you what your current occupancy is—it predicts it for the rest of the week. It doesn’t just help you locate an employee—it shows you where they’ve been in the facilities over the past week. Smarter software does more.

The goal of space planning software is twofold: improve the workplace and reduce the burden of space planning. Smart space planning apps take this to the next level, to provide real-time insights that evolve in-tune with the workplace.

Common features of smart space management software

Smart space management software features go above and beyond to do what general software can’t—and often, beyond what a workplace or facility manager can accomplish by themselves. The secret is the powerful tools leveraged by smart programs: AI, machine learning, data integration, and predictive analytics. Here are a few features of smart space planning software:

  • Space usage predictions: How likely is it that your fourth-floor conference room is occupied at 2pm on a Wednesday? How many hotel desks out of 30 will employees book on Friday? Knowing the answers to these questions offers powerful insight into how to better-design the workplace. Smart space planning software has them.
  • Contact tracing: In the age of COVID-19, contact tracing is important. Smart space planning software makes it possible by linking access points to employees, to paint a clear path of workspace usage. Smart software can track and manage interactions with the workplace at the employee level, to keep staff safe and informed.
  • Auto-generated stack planning: Moving to new facilities? Unsure of how to group departments? AI tools can measure the interactions between departments to automatically generate a stack plan that optimizes synergies across the workforce. Best of all, smart software ensures it’s also the optimal plan for maximizing space utilization and ROI.

These features and others make it possible to understand the workplace and adapt it at a granular level. The company benefits from better workplace ROI, employees benefit from a well-adjusted workspace, and workplace managers benefit from simplified decision-making.

Smart buildings demand smart workspaces

Smart space planning software works as a standalone investment, but it’s benefits truly become apparent when it’s integrated into smart buildings.

Like all smart software, smart space planning software thrives on data input. The more data available, the more insights it provides. Given an entire office IoT network synced to the workplace, smart space planning software can provide immeasurably useful insights that affect meaningful workplace changes.

If you know how many hotel desks you need and how long they’re occupied, you can begin to build a framework for flex work. If you know which departments work together often, you can create shared facilities that bring them together. There are infinite “what ifs” in workplace design. Smart buildings and smart space planning software shine a light on more and more of them as data about your workplace, people, and processes become apparent.

In the era of agile workplaces, flex work, and evolving office design, smarter buildings facilitate better insights when paired with intelligent space planning software.

Get ready for the future of the workplace

There are already a myriad of different variables to worry about in the workplace. Now, with the rise of distributed teams, flex work, and non-traditional schedules, external variables play a role in space planning. To manage these growing considerations, workplace managers need smarter tools. Smart space planning software is at the top of the list and an integral resource in optimizing the workplace.

The future of the workplace isn’t clear, but with smart software to help plan it, it doesn’t need to be. Smart software equals space planning agility and provides facility managers the intelligent insights they need to adapt accordingly.

Keep reading: Space Planning Software Buyers and Info Guide