Soft Services in FM

Within facilities management, there are hard and soft services. Most FMs are familiar with hard services—fixed parts of facilities operation you can’t change. But what are types of facilities services in facility management?

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Soft services comprise actions and services you can change. They’re often non-essential and come with a wide degree of variability in how they’re managed. But the most important part of soft services is how they’re used and who they benefit. When executed correctly, soft services elevate the workplace in ways that benefit employees and the work they’re doing.

Soft vs. hard services in facilities management

To understand the unique importance of soft services, we need to better distinguish them. That means asking, “What are soft and hard services in facility management?” Here’s a quick explanation for each, as well as a list of hard and soft services in facilities management.

Hard facilities services

Hard services, on the other hand, are technical and physical services that involve the maintenance, repair, and management of the building’s infrastructure, systems, and equipment. These services often require specialized technical knowledge and expertise. Some common examples of hard services include:

  • Mechanical and Electrical Maintenance: Maintenance, repair, and management of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, electrical systems, plumbing systems, and other mechanical systems.
  • Building Fabric Maintenance: Maintenance and repair of the building’s structural elements, such as walls, floors, roofs, windows, and doors.
  • Fire Safety Systems: Installation, maintenance, and testing of fire alarm systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, and other fire safety equipment.
  • Lifts and Elevators: Maintenance and repair of lifts and elevators to ensure their safe and efficient operation.
  • Energy Management: Monitoring and optimization of energy usage, implementing energy-efficient measures, and managing utility services.
  • Building Security Systems: Installation, maintenance, and monitoring of access control systems, CCTV cameras, burglar alarms, and other security systems.
  • Building Automation Systems: Management and maintenance of building automation systems, such as building management systems (BMS), to control and monitor various building functions.

Hard services are crucial for the proper functioning and maintenance of the facility’s infrastructure and systems, while soft services focus on providing a comfortable and conducive environment for the occupants. Effective management of both soft and hard services is essential for overall facilities management.

Hard services are physically integrated into the building. They can’t be removed and are vital to the workplace environment. They directly or indirectly impact every person in the building on some level. Some additional examples include:

  • Heating
  • Lighting/electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Fire safety systems
  • Air conditioning
  • Mechanical

Soft facilities services

Soft Services: Soft services in facilities management refer to the non-technical and non-physical tasks that are focused on creating a safe, clean, and comfortable environment for the occupants of a facility. These services generally involve human interaction and are often outsourced to specialized service providers. Some common examples of soft services include:

  • Cleaning and Janitorial Services: Regular cleaning, waste management, restroom maintenance, and general housekeeping tasks.
  • Security Services: Access control, CCTV monitoring, security personnel, and emergency response to ensure the safety and protection of the facility and its occupants.
  • Reception and Concierge Services: Front desk management, visitor management, mail handling, and other administrative support services.
  • Pest Control: Measures to prevent and control pests, such as insects, rodents, and other unwanted animals, to maintain a hygienic environment.
  • Landscaping and Grounds Maintenance: Maintenance of outdoor spaces, including gardening, lawn care, landscaping, and upkeep of green areas.
  • Catering and Food Services: Provision of food and beverages for cafeterias, canteens, or special events within the facility.
  • Waste Management: Collection, segregation, and disposal of waste in an environmentally responsible manner.
  • Housekeeping Services: Room cleaning, linen management, and other services typically found in hotels, hospitals, and residential facilities.

Soft services aren’t integrated into the building and directly benefit employees who interact with them. They’re not essential—instead, they’re meant to make the workplace more comfortable, enjoyable, or secure. Some additional examples include:

  • Building security
  • Cleaning
  • Landscaping
  • Office decorating
  • Catering
  • Office moves

The difference between hard and soft services is far from subtle. Facility managers need to understand the roles of both in creating an optimal workplace.

Benefits for employees and the business

While considered non-essential, soft services are critical in cultivating a well-run workplace. They directly impact variables like productivity and job satisfaction. It’s important not to see them as perks or superfluous costs, but rather investments in a more productive, functional workplace.

Take landscaping, for example. Landscaping doesn’t directly impact your business’ cash flow or revenue. But it does have value in its effect on employee mood. Giving workers a place to go outside and enjoy their lunch or conversation boosts their spirits when they return to work. Lower stress and positive mood directly contribute to a job well done. That does affect cash flow and revenue.

The same goes for every soft service. The service itself may not directly impact business success, but it will have indirect consequences.

Raising the value of your workplace

What many businesses often realize is that soft services raise the value of their workplace. Not in a fiscal sense, but in a qualitative sense.

Catering lunch every Friday doesn’t increase the value of your physical workspace, but it does boost employee morale. It’s also a great way to attract and retain talent, and supplement your business’ perks. The value added here is cultural. Employees feel appreciated and encouraged to do their best.

Cleaning, decorating, moving, and similar soft services support the core function of the office space: accommodating employees. It’s not just about giving them the tools to work; it’s about ensuring they feel welcome, valued, and empowered.

Good facilities management practices 

Many facility managers are hired to manage hard services—and they do. But a good workplace manager also recognize the value of soft services. Not only will they make the proper investments in these services, they’ll communicate the benefits to get stakeholder buy-in.

The best way to understand which soft services are important is by listening to employee feedback. Understand what employees’ needs and wants are. Develop a mode of feedback such as an informal workplace survey or a suggestion box. Look at the efficacy and urgency of the feedback to understand the best course of action.

Say a chief piece of feedback is “not feeling safe leaving the building after dark.” This clues FMs into the need for on-site security. This soft service not only improves morale, it shows genuine concern for employee wellbeing. Juxtapose this with suggestions like “bringing in a masseuse” to understand what’s vital and what’s a perk.

Support services are essential

What are support services in facilities management? Soft and hard services are part of ensuring your facilities are living up to your expectations and supporting workers on a daily basis. Soft services are the difference between simply having facilities and creating a workplace. The right approach to managing support services is to correlate effort to outcome.

Keep reading: automation and the IoT for facility management.

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What is Hoteling and Should You be Using it?

Non-traditional desking options are on the rise as companies race to maximize workplace potential. Among them is hoteling, a simple concept that’s easy to implement. But hoteling requires a little foresight to maximize its benefits.

Here’s a look at what desk hoteling is, how it maximizes office space potential, and what types of businesses benefit most from it.


Four Types of Wayfinding Signage

Wayfinding plays a crucial role in various environments, including healthcare facilities, airports, shopping malls, public buildings, educational institutions, public transportation systems, and large event venues. By employing effective wayfinding strategies, designers and facility managers can create user-friendly environments that facilitate smooth and intuitive navigation.

There are four types of wayfinding signs: identification, directional, informational, and regulatory. As standalone signs, they serve a specific role; as part of the greater wayfinding system, they inform each other.

Here’s what facility managers need to know about deploying each of the primary wayfinding types of signage.

1. Identification

Identification is the most common type of wayfinding signage. They tell a person when they have arrived at their destination. They also serve as general wayfinding landmarks.

Need to get your bearings? Identification signage is there for you. If you’re looking for Sales and you keep seeing signs for Human Resources, you know you’re in the wrong place.

Make identification signs uncluttered and straight to the point. What does the sign signify? Someone should understand it in seconds.

General examples

  • Door plaques (Assistant to the Regional Manager)
  • Departmental markers (Accounting and Finance; Sales)
  • Landmark signage (donor plaque; historical marker)

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2. Directional

Directional signage helps people get to where they’re going. It’s an invisible hand guiding them from wherever they are to their destination, one step at a time. They’re best used at junctions and areas without a clear traffic flow.

Anyone unfamiliar with their surroundings benefits from diverse directional signage. It can be as simple as a plaque at each junction sending people left or right. Or, it may be as comprehensive as colored lines on the floor leading people directly to their destination.

Continuity is key for directional signage. If a person becomes lost anywhere between two points using directional signage, it’s immediately invalidated. Picking up the trail again means backtracking or getting lucky.

General examples

  • Junction signage (left to cafeteria; right to an exit)
  • Colored lines on the floor (blue for marketing; red for sales)
  • Directory signage (CEO, 8th floor; HR)

3. Informational

Whereas identification signage marks a particular area, informational signage pertains to the overall facilities. These signs give people broad information they need while navigating.

Informational signage is best placed in an area with broad exposure. Lobbies, waiting rooms, building entrances, and atriums are popular examples. Signage should answer questions before they’re asked. Where are your bathrooms? How late are you open? Do you have an elevator?

Informational signs should be universally understandable at a glance—signs and symbols anyone can understand.

General examples

  • Amenities and accommodations (free Wi-Fi; elevators)
  • Facilities signage (bathrooms; exits; cafeteria)
  • Business information (hours of operation; address numbers)

4. Regulatory

Regulatory signage is a proactive form of wayfinding. It’s focused on safety and liability concerns and sets boundaries—what is and isn’t acceptable in your facilities. It’s used to establish and reinforce rules, safety standards, and privacy expectations.

Regulatory signage is generally big and bold. No frills—only a clear, concise, prominent message. Someone probably won’t open a closet if there’s a “Caution! High Voltage!” sign on the door. Similarly, displaying a “No Pets Allowed” sign means Fido isn’t welcome.

Use regulatory signage wherever it applies and leave no room for ambiguity. A handicap sign sets a clear precedent, just like an “Employees Only” sign on a locked door.

General examples

  • Rules and regulations (no smoking; no firearms)
  • Compliance standards (ADA accessibility; high voltage sign)
  • Access control (no entry beyond this point; employees only)

Combining wayfinding signage

Wayfinding is experiential. Every type of wayfinding signage can and should be used with every other. Regulatory signs should keep people out of restricted areas as they follow directional signage to their destination. Identification signage should tell someone where they are, so they can follow directional signage to where they want to be. Informational signage—coupled with regulatory signage—needs to set behavior expectations in your facilities.

Additionally, all signage should be simple. Regardless of its purpose, someone should be able to look at a sign and known in seconds what it says, as well as what it means in relation to wayfinding.

Whatever the information, make sure you have the right mode of delivery. The simpler your signage and the more cohesive it is across all four types, the more effective it will be for anyone using it.


Wayfinding offers several benefits for individuals navigating a physical environment. Here are some key advantages:

  • Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Clear and effective wayfinding systems alleviate stress and anxiety associated with getting lost or feeling disoriented. Users can navigate with confidence, knowing they can easily find their way and reach their destinations.
  • Time Efficiency: Efficient wayfinding saves time by providing clear directions and information about the shortest and most direct routes. Users can navigate efficiently, minimizing unnecessary detours or confusion.
  • Improved User Experience: A well-designed wayfinding system enhances the overall user experience by making navigation intuitive and user-friendly. It creates a positive impression of the environment and contributes to user satisfaction.
  • Safety and Security: Wayfinding systems play a crucial role in emergency situations by guiding users to emergency exits, evacuation routes, or safety facilities. Clear signage and directions help ensure the safety and well-being of individuals during critical incidents.
  • Increased Accessibility: Accessibility is a key consideration in wayfinding design. Well-designed systems take into account the needs of individuals with disabilities or special requirements, providing inclusive navigation options and features.
  • Enhancing Efficiency of Complex Spaces: In large and complex environments, such as airports, hospitals, or shopping malls, wayfinding helps users navigate through various facilities, departments, or sections. It streamlines movement and reduces confusion in spaces with multiple levels, buildings, or interconnected areas.
  • Promoting Discoverability: Wayfinding systems can highlight points of interest, amenities, or important destinations within an environment. Users can easily locate areas of interest, such as restrooms, information desks, shops, or specific attractions, enhancing their overall experience.
  • Branding and Identity: Wayfinding design can incorporate branding elements, colors, and visual cues that reinforce the identity of an organization or space. Consistent and well-designed wayfinding contributes to the overall brand image and creates a cohesive experience for users.
  • Enhanced Navigation for Visitors: Wayfinding systems are particularly valuable for visitors who are unfamiliar with a location. Clear directions, maps, and signage help visitors feel more comfortable and confident, improving their overall experience and reducing the need for constant assistance.
  • Optimized Space Utilization: Efficient wayfinding can guide users through less congested or underutilized areas, helping distribute foot traffic and balancing occupancy within a facility. This can lead to improved efficiency in space utilization and overall facility management.

Keep reading: wayfinding best practices.

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Seven Benefits of Wayfinding for Colleges

Every year, colleges across the country welcome a new crop of students. They join upperclassmen, faculty, maintenance staff, support workers, and dozens of other groups present on campus. And, for the first few weeks of the year, campus is relatively chaotic as everyone figures out their new routine. Universities looking to ease this chaos benefit enormously from wayfinding.

Wayfinding doesn’t just help the new crop of students get their bearings; it’s useful to anyone on campus, no matter how well they already know the environment. It’s important to remember that wayfinding isn’t only about knowing where things are or how to get to them—it’s also about navigating the space fluidly. As campus operations directors and facility managers seek to improve the campus experience for everyone on it, wayfinding stands as a great opportunity.

What is wayfinding?

Wayfinding is a support system that helps students, faculty, staff, visitors, and anyone else on a college campus understand where they are, and help them get to where they want to go. It can be as simple as a digital campus map or as complex as turn-by-turn directions to a specific room in a particular building. Whatever features it offers, the goal of a wayfinding solution is to make navigating campus simpler and more efficient.

These days, most wayfinding solutions come in the form of an app or a cloud system. This allows users to unlock their smartphone and instantly access the campus information they need. Look up a professor and find directions to their office. Look up a class to figure out where it’s meeting today. Chart a course from your dorm room to a building you’ve never been in before. It’s all possible through wayfinding—that, and simply being able to see where amenities or emergency services are at a glance.

Wayfinding refers to the process of navigating and orienting oneself within a physical environment, such as a building, campus, or public space. It involves using visual cues, signage, maps, and other information to understand and follow a path or reach a specific destination. Wayfinding helps individuals understand their current location, identify points of interest, and determine the best route to their desired destination.

The main goal of wayfinding is to provide clear and intuitive guidance to users, ensuring they can navigate a space efficiently, safely, and without confusion. Effective wayfinding design takes into consideration factors such as the layout of the environment, the needs and abilities of the users, and the context in which the navigation is taking place.

The benefits of wayfinding for schools

The robust capabilities of modern wayfinding for schools and colleges come with many benefits that make it a great investment. Here’s a look at seven of the most prominent benefits associated with campus wayfinding:

  1. Alleviate congestion. With thousands of people walking around campus at any given time, it’s important to modulate traffic. Wayfinding can ease congestion by suggesting alternate routes at certain times of the day, or even providing real-time updates on areas where overcrowding is an issue.
  2. Improve navigability. Whether they know where they’re going or have no clue where they are, wayfinding makes navigating large campuses simpler for everyone. Condensing the sprawl of campus to a smartphone-sized map enables better decision-making by students—especially when they’re racing the clock.
  3. Reduce disruption. Nothing interrupts a class like someone walking in because they have the wrong room. Likewise, not everyone has time to stop and give directions to a hurried passerby. Wayfinding reduces these types of disruptions by giving everyone the power to get to where they need to go.
  4. Ease transitions. Professionals and students alike have places to be after class ends. Wayfinding helps them chart the way so that they can arrive on-time composed and ready for the next item on their itinerary. It’s a simple way to reduce instances of flustered faculty and winded students so that class can start on-time.
  5. Familiarize campus. College campuses are privy to a number of visitors—everyone from pizza delivery drivers to visiting friends and family. These individuals need a way to get familiar with campus instantly, so they can find the people and places they’re looking for. Wayfinding provides necessary context.
  6. Emergency action. Where’s the nearest first-aid station? Where are campus police located? Where’s the emergency exit in this building? These are important questions that wayfinding can answer, to empower greater safety on campus. It’s an instant way for someone to get their bearings in a dire situation.
  7. Improve accessibility. From wheelchair-bound persons to those with special needs, wayfinding is a tool for making life on campus easier. It can show where handicap access is or where certain facilities are, to empower those with accessibility needs to better-navigate campus in a way that supports them fully.

Wayfinding’s numerous benefits make it something anyone on campus can and should use. Universities that encourage a wayfinding-first approach to acclimating on campus will find themselves with a campus population that’s more adept at navigating and more comfortable with the environment.

Everyone on campus benefits from wayfinding

For new students, wayfinding is a vital tool for getting familiar with campus. For returning students and seasoned faculty, it’s the key to finding the quickest route to wherever they need to be. For visitors, it’s an abundance of information that makes finding specific people and places easy. Everyone can use a campus wayfinding app to improve their interaction with the university and the many buildings under its purview.

Whether it’s a campus spread throughout a city or one with sprawling grounds, wayfinding helps students get to class and everyone else get to where they’re going. Moreover, it does so with experience, efficiency, ease, and expedience.

Keep reading: Facilities Management Software for Schools


5 Best Business Collaboration Tools for 2023

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

Collaboration tools are software applications or platforms that facilitate and enhance teamwork and communication among individuals or groups working on a shared project or task. These tools are designed to enable collaboration and coordination, regardless of physical location or time zone, by providing features that promote real-time interaction, document sharing, task management, and more. Collaboration tools are especially valuable in remote work environments and for distributed teams. They can encompass a wide range of functionalities.

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

Best communication tools for productivity

First things first, teams can’t collaborate if they can’t communicate. The best communication software makes it easy for team members to connect – combining instant messaging, video conferencing, and file sharing – all in one place.

Top communications applications are:

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

Communication applications allow teams to work successfully on projects, no matter if they are in the office, hybrid, or remote. Thanks to the cloud, it’s possible to collaborate with someone halfway around the world as easily as if they were sitting next to you.

Best online collaboration tools for your team

Business changes rapidly – daily and sometimes even hourly. Teams need a way to adapt just as quickly, and real-time editing platforms give it to them.

This collaboration software supports dynamic workflows and team agility. The ability to act, react, and reallocate resources as fast as projects change is an asset teams can’t function without. Editing software helps teams respond to changes as quickly as they’re expected to, prevent setbacks, and keep projects on track.

Here are some examples of real-time editing platforms:

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

Best cloud storage tools

Collaborating on projects requires organization. Cloud storage tools store data online –presentations, spreadsheets, documents, or images – giving everyone access to the same information. It acts like a filing cabinet; your team can put all of a project’s relevant materials into one place. This accessibility means that team members can easily and instantly access project documents whenever needed.

Commonly used cloud storage tools are:

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

Cloud storage software simplifies how teams work, as a secure collaboration with anyone, anywhere, on any device.

Best tools for project management

Expecting people to collaborate without full visibility over what, exactly, they’re working on together is a recipe for disaster. Every member of the team needs to see the bigger picture and how what they’re doing fits into it. Project management tools make this possible with the ability to see task timelines. Everyone is on the same page, working toward the same goal.

Leading project management programs include:

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

With this visibility also comes an element of accountability. If a task isn’t finished, team leaders know whom to hold accountable. Or, from a proactive perspective, team members can see when others need help and collaborate to keep the project on schedule.

Best calendar software

Employees working on the same project won’t necessarily have the same schedules. Shared calendars offer transparency into coworkers’ availability, encouraging team members to schedule time together – to discuss joint ventures – when they are mutually available.

Top calendar software:

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

Calendar software also gives insight into one another’s workloads, encouraging a culture of respect.

Why are collaboration tools important?

Collaboration tools are important for several reasons:

  • Enhanced communication: Collaboration tools provide efficient and effective channels for communication among team members. They enable real-time messaging, video conferencing, and document sharing, reducing the need for lengthy email exchanges and facilitating quick decision-making. These tools bridge the gap between remote team members, enabling seamless communication regardless of physical location.
  • Improved productivity: Collaboration tools streamline workflow and enhance productivity by providing a centralized platform for task management, document sharing, and progress tracking. They eliminate the need for manual coordination and ensure that team members are aligned on goals and responsibilities. With better organization and access to information, teams can work more efficiently and complete tasks more quickly.
  • Remote and distributed teamwork: Collaboration tools are particularly valuable in remote and distributed work environments. They enable teams to collaborate seamlessly, regardless of geographical barriers or different time zones. By providing virtual workspaces and real-time collaboration features, these tools promote teamwork, idea sharing, and knowledge exchange, fostering a sense of cohesion among remote team members.
  • Document and version control: Collaboration tools offer features that enable teams to work on documents and files together in real-time. This eliminates the need for sending multiple versions of files via email and ensures that everyone is working on the latest version. Collaboration tools often include version control mechanisms, allowing users to track changes, revert to previous versions, and leave comments and feedback on shared documents.
  • Transparency and accountability: Collaboration tools provide transparency into project progress, task assignments, and deadlines. Team members can easily track the status of tasks, identify potential bottlenecks, and ensure that everyone is on the same page. This transparency enhances accountability as it becomes clear who is responsible for each task and whether it has been completed or not.
  • Knowledge sharing and retention: Collaboration tools often include features that facilitate knowledge sharing within a team or organization. By providing centralized repositories, wikis, and knowledge bases, these tools allow team members to document and share information, best practices, and lessons learned. This helps foster a culture of knowledge sharing, promotes continuous learning, and ensures that valuable insights are not lost when team members change or leave the organization.

Overall, collaboration tools promote effective teamwork, enhance communication, and increase productivity in both co-located and remote work environments. They enable seamless collaboration, efficient project management, and streamlined workflows, ultimately leading to better outcomes and successful completion of tasks and projects.

Whether instant communication, document collaboration, project planning, or shared calendars, the secret to seamless teamwork is implementing the right tools. Collaborative software enables full group participation and synergy – everyone contributes meaningfully. Each person uses their unique skills and talents to drive the project forward in a show of true collaboration. The easier it is to collaborate and communicate – in real-time – the easier it is for the team to succeed.


What Is Facility Planning in Operations Management?

Facility managers are responsible for keeping integrated facilities management humming along smoothly. It’s a job that requires day-to-day oversight and the ability to adapt to changing facility needs. But more than that, FMs need the foresight to engage in facility planning.

What is the meaning of facility planning? It’s more than just keeping up with the demands of the workplace. Facility planning is about staying ahead of them. With a forward-looking mindset, facility managers can maximize space, improve the workplace experience, and keep costs low. It all starts by observing current trends and pinpointing the pivotal workplace needs.


The best way to explain the need of facility planning within operations management is to look at it through the lens of fostering efficiency. How can it create efficiency in the context of employees and their work? In budgeting and cost planning? In space utilization and usage? At its core, facility planning is the tool that unlocks efficient operations management.  

The goal: Creating efficiency 

Understanding the importance of facility planning means looking at efficiency. How effectively are you using the space available to you? Are you supporting employee productivity? Where does waste exist within your workplace and what can you do to minimize it? 

The goal of facility planning is to not only recognize opportunities for efficiency, but to anticipate them as well. Alleviating inefficiencies within the workplace has rippling effects across the entire business. For example: 

  • Recognizing workspace is insufficient prevents overcrowding and the dip in productivity that comes with it. It can also serve as the foundation for a cost-saving hot desk or remote work arrangement. 
  • Reviewing vendor contracts helps FMs move to an integrated facilities management approach, consolidating costs and streamlining the property management aspect of facilities oversight.
  • Reviewing occupancy data from an office IoT gives facility managers the data they need to anticipate space requirements for a growing workforce. This supports better planning for expansion costs and logistics. 

In these scenarios and others like them, the emphasis is on facilities planning. The need of facility planning is evident any time there are recognized efficiencies or areas of opportunity. Facility managers observe, understand, and act on key areas to chart future improvements. The goal is to optimize the different facets of business by making improvements to the one thing touching them all: facilities. Efficiency in planning and execution is critical. 

Facility planning objectives 

Looking ahead at facility needs is important, but not without context. Before addressing anything, FMs need core facility planning objectives at the forefront of their observations and decision-making. What are your facility management goals and objectives? 

  • Keeping costs as low as possible? 
  • Using the workplace to attract talent? 
  • Imbuing a sense of culture and belonging? 
  • Maximizing productivity? 
  • Planning for growth? 
  • Improved space utilization? 

The objectives are likely a combination of all these and more. Order them by importance and assess the impact they’ll have. Then, start looking at what you can do to shift the momentum in the right direction. 

Don’t forget to set benchmarks. Objective improvements are only actualized when you can measure change. Create systems for collecting and measuring data to dictate future facility changes. Whether it’s through the IoT, employee feedback, or financial reporting, tracking the effects of change helps refine future facilities planning. Just make sure benchmarks align with objectives. 

Aspects of facility planning  

Facility planning is as broad in scope as the job duties of facilities managers. As a result, FMs need to align objectives and trends with the different segments of facilities themselves. These include: 

  • People
  • Technologies 
  • Building and landscape 
  • Processes and practices 

Each part of the business contributes to planning. For example, if your goal is to improve space utilization and plan for the futureyou’ll need to observe how it fits into the various aspects of facilities planning. How does space utilization impact people, technology, the building, and your processes? Every facilities planning initiative should be stacked against individual pieces and then considered as part of the whole. 

Looking ahead at how facilities impact operations give businesses an edge for improvement. When you understand how facilities impact your business’ core pillars, it’s possible to work backward, making improvements that facilitate best results. 

The importance of facility planning in operations management 

What is facility planning in operations management? It’s the act of improving facilities to foster continued success in the business. Your facilities touch every part of the business. Planning ahead to means looking thoroughly at facilities and how to improve them. The need of facility planning in operations management is invaluable—a core driver of betterment across the workplace and across the organization.  

Facility planning is like any other mode of planning. You plan for financials and hiring, product development and marketing—why not facilities, too? Facilities are the second-largest cost behind employees. It makes sense to continuously plan for facility evolution. Whether change is a result of demand or careful observation, thorough facilities planning ensures it comes to fruition.

Keep reading: how to select the best facility management software.

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Identifying Facilities Management Goals and Objectives

Integrated facilities management has always been critical to overall organizational success because of how it impacts key performance metrics like growth, productivity, and the bottom line. But as the landscape has changed, so has the process of identifying facility management goals and objectives. 


BIM for FM Construction Project Handover [Guide]

In a perfect world, a construction project handover delivers everything facility and maintenance managers need to efficiently run the new facility, including data on all critical assets and equipment, where they are, and how best to operate and maintain them. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and that means handovers are often full of missing data or data trapped on paper, where it’s easy to lose and hard to leverage. 

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10 Mobile Employee Apps That Increase Productivity [Updated 2023]

Employee mobile apps improve productivity, real-time collaboration, and team communication. Explore the top apps at the cutting-edge of worktech.

Worktech is everywhere, from the traditional office to the remote home setup. And with all these new mobile work apps, the promise of productivity has never been greater. But with so many options to choose from – covering everything from real-time mind mapping to advanced project management to automatic time tracking — you need to choose carefully. A bad app eats time and kills creativity, leaving you wishing for the days of landline telephone calls and paperwork on real paper. 

So, when it comes to communication, collaboration, and hitting deadlines, what are some of the best mobile productivity apps? 


Slack is so popular the workplace messaging platform is already a verb, with people asking you to “slack them.” And with good reason. It’s quicker than email, more organized than texting, and offers more integrations than many other messaging platforms, helping you maximize productivity. 

Slack’s interface has a user-friendly message board feel, making it easy to learn and use for anyone with any Internet experience. There’s real power in all those features that help you control and follow conversations. You can set up channels for specific topics, tag the people you want to include, and then break off into separate threads. Once the time for talking is over, you can share files, tag collaborators, assign tasks, and create checklists, all within a specific channel.  

Google Docs

The problem with old-fashioned long-distance collaboration was how it was so sequential. You draft a report and send it to a colleague as an email attachment. They look it over, add some suggestions, and email it back. Whenever someone else is working on the file, you’re not, creating a lot of down time between drafts. And that’s when the process works perfectly. There’s always the chance you click the wrong email attachment, work on the wrong version.     

Google Docs removes all those limitations by hosting one file that everyone can access at the same time.  Now the whole team can make changes and add comments. Best of all, there’s only one current version of the document, so you don’t have to worry about people wasting time checking and fixing old work. 

And because it’s Google, it easily integrates with all the other apps in the suite, like Google Drive and Google Calendar. 


Ever end a meeting and think to yourself, “Yup. That should have been an email”? 

Hypercontext is how you can make sure that this never happens again by combining setting up meetings and setting goals into one workflow. Now your team can work together to develop and fine-tune meeting agendas for one-on-ones, team, and even cross-department meetings. Head into every meeting knowing what you need to cover and why. With one spot dedicated to documenting decisions and tracking goals, you get the most out of all that face time, and that’s critical these days with the rise of the hybrid office. When you have people making the commute to the office specifically for in-person meetings, you need meetings that work. People used to be unhappy just walking back to their desk from the boardroom after an unproductive meeting. When you’re asking people to come back into the office a couple days a week, you need to deliver meetings that work for everyone. 


Ever notice how back in school the most successful students tended to have the best notes? 

It’s the same now that you’re in the workplace. Solid note-taking skills help you with everything from tracking decisions in a meeting to brainstorming ideas for a new project.   

The good news is that thanks to Evernote you don’t have to rely on spiral notebooks and a bunch of pens and highlighters. Now you can capture not only text but also photos, files, and even to-do lists. Remember those old plastic tabs, the ones where you had to scribble subjects on little scraps of paper before carefully sliding them into place? With a built-in search function and tags, Evernote makes it easy to find the right notes, right away. And the sync function makes all your notes accessible from all your devices.   

IFTTT (If This Then That) 

And then there’s IFTTT, the one that lets you get more out of all the other productivity apps by helping you automate actions between apps, so that something happening in one carries over to another. The idea is to make everything play nice together, leveraging data from one source into usable information somewhere else. 

So, if Google says it’s going to be hot tomorrow, you now get a reminder on your calendar app to bring sunscreen. Or every time NASA publishes a new pic, you can have it automatically added as your phone wallpaper. Workwise, you can control pics for cross-posting on social channels and when and where files get saved.    

But no matter how good your apps are, they’re not going to help boost productivity if you’re constantly falling off track. What you need are apps that keep you focused and in the zone. 


Forest is the answer to the new worktech version of that age-old question “If a project fails in the forest but no one is there to work on it, does it even make a sound?” 

If you’re too distracted to work on projects, they’re not going to get done. Forest helps you resist the temptation of everything else out there on the Internet with three simple steps. When you want to focus, you plant a virtual seed. If you stay on tasks, that little seed grows into a tree, and that tree grows taller. As soon as you fall off task and quit the app, your tree dies. Over time, you can collect your trees into a forest, a little but powerful virtually living monument to your hard work.  

The company has even partnered with Trees for the Future to help plant real trees.

Sure, you might have your favorite Spotify playlist for when you need to buckle down and really work, but just how scientific is it? What’s the research-backed proof that Parton’s “9 to 5” helps you work, well, from 9 to 5? When you need to take five minutes to unwind after a meeting, does rainy day coffee shop jazz make the most sense, or something more upbeat like Norwegian metal? 

With, you get music specifically created to help you focus, meditate, and nap (not all at the same time, of course) in just 10 to 15 minutes. The company claims it “holds patents on technology to elicit strong neural phase locking—allowing populations of neurons to engage in various kinds of coordinated activity.” What that means is all you need to do is pick the headspace you want, and the app delivers the perfect soundtrack to get you there.  


Every company has defined processes and practices. Unfortunately, not all of them have Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) documentation. Zendesk acts as a hub for all of your company’s Q&A needs and SOP documents. If anyone has a question, you can point them to Zendesk where the answer has already been archived. And, if it’s a brand-new query, you can easily create an entry for future reference.

Zendesk has the added bonus of being both an internal and customer-facing piece of software. Use it as a workplace app for your day-to-day operations or create a tool that your customers can reference to streamline customer service.


Business cards are still the currency of the working world. If you’re in sales or networking, your old-school rolodex is likely chocked-full of cards. CamCard helps you digitize cards to ensure they’re always available to you in the cloud. Just snap a picture of the card and the software pulls out all of the details, creating a virtual rolodex for you to comb through, complete with pictures of the physical cards.

CamCard takes the stress out of trying to remember contacts and is great for workers on the go who need to tap into their network at any time. The app even allows you to make phone calls, send emails or access your contact’s social media with a tap of the finger.


Expense situations arise all the time and are usually accompanied by a tedious documentation process. Expensify is a must-have mobile employee app for tracking and cataloging expenses in real time.

When a purchase is made, an employee simply enters the nature of the purchase, the amount and any other pertinent information. Then, they can take a picture of the receipt with their smartphone. Expenses can then be exported individually or in bulk for processing and reimbursement. This app cuts down on the headaches and pitfalls that come with expense reporting and minimizes processing time for quicker reimbursement.

Employee Mobile Apps to Increase Productivity 

With smart technology always in our pockets, workplace apps are now more than ever integrated into everyday business operations. The right app in the right hands can drastically improve your ability to get work done quickly and correctly. Team members can stay focused and complete tasks with better time management. 

Whether it’s workplace communication or expense reporting, ultimately, everyone benefits. Explore the above app options to see how they can improve your workplace operations and increase employee productivity.