What is the Future of Facility Management?

By Dave Clifton

Content Strategy Specialist


At a time when a significant portion of the workforce is doing their job from the comfort of home, there are questions surrounding the future of facility management. Do companies need a facility manager anymore? Will facilities management get more or less complicated as time goes on? What facilities management trends are prevalent now and how will they shape the future? Like all things through the lens of COVID-19, there’s much uncertainty about the changing workplace and its demands.

Aside from educated guesswork and speculation, it’s difficult to nail down exactly what the future holds for facilities management. After all, few could’ve predicted the predicament of a pandemic-induced work-from-home exodus. The best way to glean insights about the future of facility management is to look at the demands of businesses today and how they’re shaping tomorrow.

Here’s what the landscape looks like today and how these trends might influence the future of facilities management post COVID-19.

Flex work and distributed teams as the new norm

The obvious catalyst for a change in facility management is the shift to remote work. Companies across the spectrum now have distributed teams—some 100% remote, others mixed between remote and in-house, and still more juggling offset schedules. Whether they’re in the workplace or not, it needs to support all these workers.

The future is digital for facilities managers. In-house, a growing Internet of Things (IoT) will help them manage hot desks, flex spaces, and other elements of an agile office. This, in turn, will accommodate increasingly unpredictable schedules among the groups mentioned above. Outside the physical workplace, the digital one will quickly fall under the administration of facilities managers. Expect future duties of FMs to butt up against HR and IT services as companies welcome new remote employees to a digital workplace.

Growing reliance on workplace data

As workplaces become more agile, so must governance. By now, we all know that the best decision-making tools available to us come in the form of digital technologies. Specifically, facility management software.

From hot desk management to deep dives into space utilization metrics that shape commercial real estate (CRE) decisions, facilities management will become synonymous with data interpretation. Don’t worry, facility managers won’t need a degree in data engineering. They’ll be able to rely on machine learning and AI to help them collect, analyze, interpret, and use vital workplace data.

There’s a caveat to this. Companies need to make the appropriate investments in technology and data collection infrastructure now if they want to embrace the future of facilities management with confident decision-making power.

Less is more, especially amidst CRE uncertainties

Pre-pandemic, the commercial real estate market was an expensive one. Prices plunged in April and May 2020 before climbing briefly, then dropping again. Many prominent economists and real estate professionals believe another big drop is on the way, pending economic uncertainties. It’s this yo-yo effect that has many businesses rethinking their physical workplace strategy.

Do you need to rent the entire building? Can you operate from two locations instead of five? Is the overhead on your balance sheet worth the prospect of diminishing real estate returns? These questions and more are driving a more conservative mindset when it comes to CRE decision-making. As a result, future workplaces are likely to be smaller, more agile, and strategically located.

For many companies, real estate is their biggest source of overhead (behind employee salaries). A chance to reduce these costs via flex work and smaller physical workplaces is a great opportunity. Facilities managers will shoulder the burden of how to make it work and turn less space into more ROI.

Integrated facilities management

Speaking of doing more with less, integrated facilities management is one trend likely to define the future. Facilities managers will need to find synergies in how they manage support systems and teams, and coordinate the broad care and maintenance of the workplace. FMs should expect to consolidate costs, broaden the scope of service, and streamline vendor oversight through integrated facilities management. For many companies, it’ll be a matter of cultivating inclusive partnerships with trusted service providers and negotiating long standing SLAs.

Emphasis on cleanliness and sanitation

The pandemic will eventually end, whether through a drop in transmission rates or the development of a vaccine. What won’t go away are the engrained hygiene standards the majority of people now adhere to in a public forum. For some, masks will remain an accessory. For others, social distancing will remain a habit. For facilities managers, there will be an expectation to maintain COVID-19-era cleanliness and sanitization standards.

Today’s trends are tomorrow’s norms

The future of facilities management will be shades of what we know today, influenced by factors we might not be thinking about yet. What is certain are the catalysts driving change: COVID-19 and hygiene, CRE costs, the IoT, machine learning, new work habits, and countless other disruptors.

As facilities managers scramble to meet the rapidly evolving demands of today’s workplaces and employee needs, they’re shaping a foundation for the future. When the dust settles after COVID-19, facilities managers who embraced flexibility and developed sound processes will be the ones who shape the next iteration of the workplace.

Keep Reading: How to Select the Best Facility Management Software?


Remote Working Stats During The Great Work From Home Experiment

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist

There’s no shortage of questions hanging in the balance of the pandemic, especially when it comes to work. Right now, a significant number of people wake up each morning and shuffle to their dining room table, flip open their laptops, and start their workday. There are mixed emotions.

The good news is, we’re deep enough into the Great Remote Work Experiment that data is slowly but surely coming online—data that not only qualifies how people feel about telecommuting, but remote working stats that answer questions people have been asking for months. Here are some key remote work statistics, in the context of some of the most important questions employees and employers are asking.

What are remote team leaders worried about?

There’s much uncertainty about the mass shift to remote work. For companies with little-to-no experience with it, trepidation runs high. Even those with experience managing remote teams or a distributed workforce report feeling challenged by the sudden office exodus.

What’s keeping managers up at night? Here’s a look at the top five concerns of remote team leaders, as reported by the World Economic Forum:1

  • 82% reduced employee focus
  • 75% reduced team cohesiveness
  • 82% reduced employee productivity
  • 70% maintaining company culture
  • 67% employees overworking

There’s a healthy (or rather, unhealthy) mix of stressors on the list, centered primarily around uncertainties about how to manage multiple remote employees as individuals and as a cohesive team. But there’s good news. Because we’re all in this together, there are new strategies, tips, tricks, and advice coming to fruition daily as everyone works to figure out telecommuting on a global scale, in real time.

Are remote employees still productive?

Perhaps too productive! There’s real fear that, not only are employees working longer hours, they’re starting to work non-traditional hours in addition to a traditional schedule. For example, Microsoft reports that Teams activity has increased more than 200% on Saturday and Sunday, indicating weekend work.2

Employees may be racking up as much as 28 hours of monthly overtime that’s likely going unpaid or unaccounted for on timesheets, according to one study. The reason? 86% of employees feel the need to prove they’re working hard and that they’re a valuable part of the team. 3

What’s the result of all this extra work? 37% of companies report seeing increased employee productivity after transitioning to remote.4 People are getting more done, but at the expense of work-life balance. It’s a trend that can’t continue if remote work does.

How is remote work technology faring?

Technology is the make-or-break driver behind remote work pre-COVID and today. The question is, do companies have the bandwidth, resources, and digital infrastructure to support a massive remote workforce?

Employers and employees don’t quite see eye-to-eye. While 52% of employees say their employer needs to invest in better technology, only 37% of business IT leaders feel that way.5 For most employees, the solution has been simple: use personal devices to bridge the gaps—often to the dismay of company IT and cybersecurity experts. 53% of telecommuters say they rely on a personal computer for work, spending as much as $348 on average to upgrade a personal computer for work.6

Unfortunately, there’s one telling statistic that says we’ve still got a ways to go in support a completely remote workforce. 84% of remote workers say they lose access to an application at least once a week, with 11% citing it as a daily occurrence.7 Remote work only works if the technology that supports it works.

How do employees feel about remote work?

How many can’t wait to get back in the office vs. want to work from home forever? How do individual employees see the benefits of remote working? The data paints a very telling, very lopsided picture of employee sentiment.

According to another World Economic Forum report, a staggering 98% of employees would maintain a work-from-home arrangement for the rest of their careers, given the option.8 In fact, an astounding 62% claimed they’d take a pay cut if it meant being able to work from home!9

Despite their emphatic love of remote work, employees are still adjusting. Many cite struggles unplugging or separating work from home, while others are frustrated with new schedules and communication modes. But it’s all worth it, as 85% of people say remote work ultimately makes for a better work/life balance.10

Are employees safe working from home?

During a pandemic, employee safety inspires concern for health and wellness. Naturally, employees are safer working from home largely because it’s a form of self-containment. That said, we’re talking about a different kind of safety: cybersecurity.

As of July, as many as 46% of global businesses encountered at least one cybersecurity scare since their shift to a remote working model. Businesses have countered. 73% of businesses have given staff extra cybersecurity training while working remotely, with specific training around passwords and log-in credentials.11

Despite an emphasis on cybersecurity, sentiments remain shaky about online privacy and safety. 71% of people believe remote working during COVID-19 has increased the likelihood of a data breach. Even more telling, roughly 6 in 10 employees say they felt more secure working in-office as compared to at home.12

The data continues to roll in

For most of the working world, we’re less than a year into the Great Work From Home Experiment. The longer people telecommute, the more we’ll learn and the more questions we’ll be able to answer. Until then, we can only go by what we know—and we know that remote work is working.

Keep Reading: Boost Team Collaboration with 10 Remote Working Tools




Meeting Room Setup During COVID-19: Four Safe Options

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

These days, the conference room most employees use is a digital one. Zoom, Teams, Skype, and other video chat apps are the safest way to bring people together. Unfortunately, there’s still no digital substitute for physical interaction. Sometimes it’s just easier to get together in-person. Companies that need this level of interaction should think about meeting room setup during COVID-19 before they ask employees to take a seat in a traditional conference room.

Coronavirus concerns still loom over businesses, and the situational awareness of the pandemic will linger long into the future. How can businesses reopen physical meeting rooms without violating distancing guidelines, endangering employee health, or creating unease and tension? Here are four safe options to consider:

1. Reduce capacity and socially distance

The simplest approach to safe meetings and events is to reduce capacity. Most businesses have already done this out of principle, but it’s worth it to focus on conference and meeting rooms specifically.

Don’t arbitrarily reduce capacity—be tactful. If a conference room seats 12, don’t cut it to six or eight without first evaluating the space. Is it totally enclosed or partially open? What are the dimensions of the room? What kind of furniture dictates the seating arrangement? These factors and more impact proposed capacity reductions.

For example, a 12’x22’ conference room might seat a dozen people, 3 feet in-between. A capacity cut to six people expands that to 6 feet—enough to meet social distancing guidelines. That said, you might be able to rearrange the chairs and remove a partition wall to increase usable space. The footprint of the room stays the same, but can now accommodate 10 people at a reduced capacity.

2. Change the furniture and floor plan

Furniture is an important aspect of any meeting space, but can also be the most cumbersome obstacle in reopening these areas to your workforce. Your 12’x22’ conference room feels a whole lot smaller with a 5’x14’ conference table in the middle of it. Likewise, if the room is organized around furniture instead of furniture placed to fit the room, you might not get the most out of the space.

As you welcome employees back to conference rooms, take a moment to evaluate the furniture and the floor plan. Can you replace clunky, imposing furniture with slimmed-down alternatives to gain back valuable square footage? Does it make sense to rearrange furniture and remove unnecessary pieces to create distance? In some cases, simple changes to furnishings and floor plan can help preserve room capacity and compliance with COVID-19 concerns and guidelines.

The beauty of this approach to conference room reopening is that it offers long-term benefits. COVID-19 might be the catalyst for change, but businesses will embrace the utility that comes with an optimized meeting room layout.

3. Update A/V and go digital

Meetings don’t need to be an all-in or all-out scenario. If two presenters need the floor and six other attendees are there to watch, there’s no need to lump everyone into an eight-person conference room. Why not settle for a meeting space with capabilities to stream to the viewers? It’s a smart concept for conference room management during COVID-19.

Companies that encourage mixed meetings like this will keep demand for conference rooms lower, which may lead to an overall reduction in total meeting spaces. You no longer need a 16-person conference room if your average meeting size is only four people, with 12 additional streamers. Likewise, it’s much easier to budget space for smaller in-person meetings when the only requirement is space to stream-in other attendees.

For companies receptive to mixed meetings and digital sharing resources, there’s no better way to meet social distancing than to keep physical attendance to the bare minimum.

4. Sanitize after every use

In some cases, there’s no getting around the 10-person meeting where everyone needs to attend in-person. For these instances, sanitizing solutions are essential. Even with masks, social distancing, and hand sanitizer available, groups confined to an enclosed space for extended periods face coronavirus risks. Sanitization before, during, and after can mitigate that risk.

  • Thoroughly sanitize the meeting space 30 minutes before attendees arrive
  • Quarantine and sanitize the space immediately after the meeting ends
  • For extended meetings (multiple hours), schedule a sanitization break

Sanitization is a first line of defense when there’s no getting around an in-person meeting. Thankfully, it’s not a difficult process to implement and it’s an easy task to delegate as part of increased facility upkeep or janitorial services.

Meetings don’t stop for COVID-19

Online meetings continue to be the de-facto option for companies worried about bringing people together during coronavirus. If physical presence is imperative for a meeting, traditional meeting rooms are still the simplest way to get work done. The only difference is meeting room setup and interaction are a bit different. Follow the above guidelines to create a safe environment for those must-have in-person gatherings.

Keep reading: COVID-19 Workplace Distance and Contact Guidelines


The Basics of Facilities Asset Management

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

Facilities maintenance is a broad description of what it takes to run buildings and workplaces. Under this general umbrella, there are specific focuses that contribute to the broader goal of well-run facilities. Among the most important is facilities asset management. While the building itself may be an asset, this practice looks at the essential components within the property that allow it to function as-needed for the people who work there.

As a segment of broader facilities maintenance, asset management is something worth exploring for the benefit of new facilities managers and growing companies. Small companies that rent modest office space may not have much to worry about in the way of asset management. Conversely, enterprise organizations that own the entire building likely have significant budget and manpower dedicated to asset management.

It takes surface-level knowledge to understand why facilities asset management is important, yet broad resources to execute on it properly. Here’s what every facility manager needs to know.


What are facility assets?

There are several ways to define facility assets. Small companies tend to define them by cost in relation to budget—anything over X thousands of dollars is an asset. Midsized companies often shift this to include life cycle investments—anything that requires substantial investment over time. Enterprise businesses further expound on the definition and include leased assets, 12-month liabilities, FASB-reported capital investments, and depreciating assets.

What does asset management include, exactly? It differs for every company and organization, but assets generally fall under specific categories:

  • Facility-related assets (HVAC, lighting, break room appliances)
  • Personnel-related assets (vehicles, uniforms, mobile devices)
  • IT-related assets (copiers, printers, data infrastructure, software licenses)

Though not a hard-and-fast collection of rules, most facility assets observe three traits. They are: 1) high-value, 2) depreciating, and 3) essential. They’re the kinds of things you want to manage proactively, not reactively.

What is facilities asset management?

Facility asset management is sometimes also called lifecycle planning, which can make it a little easier to understand. The goal of facilities asset management is to create a framework for the complete cradle-to-grave oversight of high-value assets. It involves a plan to acquire, operate, maintain, renew, and retire assets.

Asset management butts up against several other integral aspects of broad facilities management. For something like a building’s HVAC unit, asset management can dictate service level agreements (SLAs). For software licenses, it may affect budgeting. For something like a vehicle, it can affect accounting practices. Focus on asset management contributes to more informed management of facilities, operations, and finances for the company as a whole.

Key benefits of facilities asset management

Aside from the obvious decision-making power it affords to broader facilities management, the benefits of facilities asset management empower managers at a granular scale. Life cycle planning allows facility managers to anticipate costs, plan for maintenance and upgrades, and minimize total cost of ownership at the asset level.

The air conditioning roof stack on your building is 13 years old and needs extensive repairs that total $5,000. A comparable new unit is $12,000. Do you repair or replace? Good asset management will yield the best answer. A facilities manager will be able to see important variables like the total cost of ownership over the last five years, life expectancy of the unit, efficiency ratings, and more. Asset maintenance provides the ability to look beyond repair vs. purchase costs, to the full scope of ownership costs.

The same goes for budgeting and planning. A company licenses software on a two-year contract, to the tune of $10,500. Asset management means being able to plan for this cost two years into the future, anticipate the upgrade process to the next iteration of the software, and determine if demand for licenses has grown or shrunk within the organization.

Some terms to get to know

  • Asset class: Groups of similar assets, tracked for accounting purposes.
  • Capital improvement: High-dollar cost to preserve a vital building function.
  • Capitalized asset: An asset that has reached its break-even point from investment.
  • Depreciation: The current value of an asset below the initial investment cost.
  • End-of-life date: The planned date of asset retirement based on operable life.
  • Enterprise asset disposition: Disposal of an asset through reselling or destruction.
  • Enterprise asset management (EAM): A digital platform for asset management.
  • Ghost asset: An asset still on the company’s books, but no longer in service.
  • Life cycle management: The total plan for an asset, from acquisition to disposal.
  • Planned obsolescence: The decision to retire an asset before its end-of-life date.
  • Total cost of ownership: The total cost to own, maintain, and use an asset.

Keep facilities consistent with demand

Facilities need to serve the people who operate within them, right down to the individual assets they use and rely on. From top-of-the-line copy machines, to roof stack HVAC units, to high-value software subscriptions, each of these assets and many others like them fall under the realm of facilities asset management. It’s up to facilities managers to track, manage, and maintain them where appropriate, with a plan to ensure they continue to serve people seamlessly.

Keep reading: Selecting the right facilities management software.

demo spaceiq


How to Improve Air Quality in the Office

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist

Businesses are doing everything they can to create safe work environments as the COVID-19 pandemic remains at the forefront of every employee’s mind. From surface sanitization, to mask mandates, to a complete restructure of the office floor plan, everything is subject to scrutiny through the lens of employee health and wellness—even air quality. How to improve air quality in the office is something many facilities managers are stuck on.

While it’s easy to wipe down a hot desk or sterilize shared office equipment, it’s not as easy to address recirculated air concerns. How do you address air quality when people breathe it in and out every second of every day?

There are more opportunities to improve office air quality than are first apparent. Through proper assessment, routine maintenance, proper filtration, and a clear focus on HVAC, businesses can enhance their buildings’ forced air to the benefit of everyone—even amidst a pandemic that’s primarily spread through airborne droplets.

Why is office air quality important?

Think of how good a breath of fresh air feels as you step outside, into a crisp morning scene. Consider the difference in how you feel after traipsing around in a musty attic, then coming back down into a clean home. These are just two examples of the dramatic impact air quality has on how we feel—and how fast it can change.

Science attributes everything from allergies to lethargy and more sinister health conditions to poor indoor air quality. There’s even an umbrella term to describe the effects poor commercial air quality has on a person: Sick Building Syndrome. Now, with COVID-19 and its proven spread through the air, conversations about how to improve workplace air quality are front and center in many workplaces—even if air quality hasn’t been a problem.

Bottom line, indoor air quality has a direct correlation to health and wellness. At a time when public health is of paramount concern, indoor air quality is the key to minimizing risk of everything from allergies to the coronavirus pandemic in the workplace.

Start with maintenance and service

The simplest tips to improve workplace air quality start with routine maintenance and service. Especially if the aggregate age of your forced air system is less than 15 years old, there’s a lot you can do to improve air quality by adhering to manufacturer standards.

Call up a commercial HVAC specialist or schedule comprehensive service through your current service provider. Tell them you want a thorough inspection and cleaning of your entire forced air system, and ask for a detailed breakdown of tasks and costs associated with it. If routine cleaning is part of your current service level agreement (SLA), your building may not be due for cleaning or may only require select services.

In addition to a thorough cleaning, observe these common maintenance tasks. Make sure they’re either recently completed or action items for an impending HVAC service call:

  • Replace air filters and other consumable filtration equipment
  • Clean indoor and outdoor HVAC units and critical components
  • Check and clear condensate drains and inspect for mold growth
  • Examine registers and exchangers, and clean where appropriate

The older the system or the units, the more thorough and discerning your HVAC professional should be. Get a scope of work and cost estimates, and examine these costs against your building maintenance budget. In many cases, a one-time thorough servicing of the building’s HVAC system makes sense—especially during COVID-19, when it has the potential to mitigate virus transmission and assuage employee fears.

Supplement with filtration and upgrades

After you set a baseline for good air quality through routine maintenance and service, set your eyes on improving office air quality. There are three methods to achieve this. In ascending order of cost:

  • Invest in new filter technologies. Replace old fiber filters with high-grade HEPA filters to improve the filtration efficiency and effectiveness of the building’s forced air system. Enterprise companies with massive air handling may even consider UV disinfection filters—the gold standard in particle neutralization.
  • Upgrade to smart tech. Smart thermostats and air handling sensors not only offer better control over office air quality—they also save money and improve HVAC efficiency. While there is a cost associated with the IoT buildout required for smart HVAC systems, the cost benefit may be worth it to many organizations with high forced air overhead.
  • Upgrade the system. Commercial HVAC units typically last 15 years, with some reaching 20+. Businesses may choose to make a capital expenditure to retrofit an inefficient unit at the tail end of its lifespan, to enjoy not only another one to two decades of reliability, but also the improved air handling standards that come with modern units.

Consider these options not only in the context of COVID-19, but over the next five to 10 years and beyond. What’s your plan for the building? Is air quality a known concern? Will it be in the foreseeable future? Investments in filtration and system upgrades will dictate office air quality long beyond the pandemic.

Make HVAC an independent focus

HVAC is likely part of your business’ broader building maintenance plan. During COVID-19, it’s time to break it out as an independent focus, so forced air gets the attention it needs. Align with an HVAC professional for service and maintenance, and do appropriate research into upgrades and other capital expenditures that may bring lasting relief and protection to your workforce.

COVID-19 won’t last forever, but it’s not the only reason to examine forced air quality. Sick Building Syndrome, annual cold and flu germs, allergens, and a slew of other pathogens are worth the time, effort, and expenditure that come from better forced air management.

Keep reading: 10 Tips for a Safe Return to the Workplace


What is an Alternative Workplace?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

In 1998, the Harvard Business Review published a futuristic article titled, The Alternative Workplace: Changing Where and How People Work. Read through this article today, in 2020, and it doesn’t seem all that groundbreaking. It describes remote work and a growing detachment from traditional workplace norms. That said, it’s a prophetic-sounding piece that seems to have predicted the alternative workplace we’re seeing today more than 20 years ago.

Indeed, we are moving from an era in which people seek connections with one another to an era in which people will have to decide when and where to disconnect—both electronically and socially. Organizations that pursue alternative workplace [AW] initiatives—particularly those with home office arrangements—must be mindful of that paradox.

The rise of the alternative workplace has been a long time coming, as evidenced by the above passage. COVID-19 is the latest catalyst driving once-alternative solutions into the spotlight as companies search for the “new normal.” Is this the year alternative workplace strategies take center stage and fulfill the bold new vision adapted back in 1998?

Alternative workplace definition

What is an alternative workplace? It’s a fair question and one that’s readily answered by many of the work trends we’re familiar with today. Telecommuting and remote work. Coworking. These workplace changes paint a picture of the alternative workplace.

In 1998, “alternative workplace” focused more specifically on alternatives to working in an office. Today, the definition focuses more on where employees work and how that environment supports them—from a well-furnished coworking space, to the free Wi-Fi at a local coffee shop.

Elements of the alternative workplace

Alternative workplaces are extremely diverse because they can encompass just about any environment that supports work. So long as it supports your ability to work and it’s outside of the “home base” workplace, it falls under the guise of an alternative workplace.

A coworking space might have an office feel and all the amenities of a traditional workplace, but it’s an alternative workplace because you’re surrounded by professionals from other companies and career paths. Your home office is an alternative workplace. Even an airport lounge is an alternative workplace—even if you only work there for 45 minutes before a flight.

Wondering if you’re sitting in an alternative workspace right now? Take stock of the environment and see if it offers these essential elements:

  • Are you using your own technology?
  • Do you have control over your seating?
  • Do you have control over your work habits?
  • Is the environment conducive to your work?
  • Are there people other than coworkers around you?

Most coffee shops, coworking spaces, home offices, airport terminals, public libraries, and similar facilities fit the bill. But the alternative workplace isn’t merely shaped by physical surroundings—more important is about how it empowers employees.

Emphasize the worker instead of the workplace

Alternative workspaces are defined by the freedoms they afford workers. These workplaces sever the tie between work and any one single place, which also means they give employees the power to self-govern. When allowed to choose their own venue and work in their own way, many workers seize the opportunity to do their best work, in their best way.

It’s not surprising that many companies invested in alternative workplace strategies over the past two decades. Unlinking work from the workplace and instead hitching work to the worker brings untold flexibility to the concept of what a workplace is. Hence, the rise in alternative workplaces. If an employee can produce 100% regardless of whether they work at a desk in an office or in an easy chair at home, does it matter where they do that work? Probably not. What if they could accomplish 120% from their easy chair? It’s a very real driver behind the rise in alternative workplaces.

Alternative workplace concepts come down to an investment in work and the worker, instead of the workplace. So long as they can do the work, who’s to stop employees from doing it in a place that’s comfortable, familiar, and supportive of their personal work habits? It’s a trade many employers willingly make for the likes of bolstered productivity, improved culture, and employee satisfaction.

Alternatives set to become the new norm

In just the second paragraph of the Harvard Business Review article on alternative workplaces, there’s a simple, striking sentence. “This is not a fad.” Indeed, it’s not, to have survived 20-plus years and become the foundation for the adaptive workplace solutions we’re seeing today.

The rise of the internet, cloud applications, and generally better computing technology have all made alternative workplaces viable solutions as companies try to navigate COVID-19 and the future of work after the pandemic. Remote work, flex scheduling, hoteling, experiential workspaces, and coworking are all alternative forms of work, but they’re part of the greater alternative workplace employees rely on today.

Keep reading: How to increase workplace productivity


Hot Desking Health and Safety During COVID-19

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist

Coronavirus has even the most rational employees thinking long and hard about their health and wellness while at work. The pandemic is still active and ongoing, and time spent in a busy workplace is a consistent reminder for many people—especially when it comes to use of shared facilities. It’s reasonable to understand the concerns many employees have about hot desking health and safety.

Are hot desks safe? What can employers do to make them safe? What should employees do to keep shared spaces hygienic? It’s easy to rattle off tangential concerns. Thankfully, it’s just as easy to put those concerns to rest with a proactive, transparent, thorough hot desking policy during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s everything employers and their staff need to be aware of.

Are hot desks safe during COVID-19?

Hot desking during coronavirus may seem counterintuitive, but it has the possibility to be an extremely hygienic option when approached correctly.

The obvious concern is the constant stream of people utilizing the same space throughout the day. A hot desk might welcome anywhere from a single occupant to eight or more throughout the day. And while they’re never there together, each new presence brings the potential for new germs. Disinfection between occupants is a must. A simple solution for many companies is to build in 15-30-minute increments between users, to sanitize and sterilize.

The other major safety concern to address arises when there’s a confirmed case of coronavirus in the workplace. Contact tracing needs to be a priority, starting with shared spaces. Develop a system of record to know who occupied a desk, when, and for how long.

Despite obvious concerns about shared space, there are some less obvious benefits worth noting. For example, contact tracing can actually be easier if there’s a system or record that spans the entire office. Likewise, hot desks can be a better way to utilize space safely as employees phase back into the workplace—rotating through space instead of commingling within it. There’s also a simplicity in sanitizing and sterilizing hot desks per an SOP or standardized work order.

Hot desking—like any aspect of the workplace in the current climate—is subject to success with the right oversight. If you can keep your employees safe and make them feel safe, hot desking presents opportunities for a safe return to work and a transition back to productive normalcy.

Tips for hot desking safety

Every workplace faces different obstacles as employees return to work. Hot desking safety hinges largely on how facilities managers adapt their hot desking options and oversee employee interaction with them. Transforming traditional spaces into hot desks or limiting occupancy alone aren’t enough to make the concept work.

Below are a few tips to consider as you ponder hot desks as a space-efficient solution during COVID-19. Strive to implement as many as possible to cover the various aspects of hot desking safety and standardization.

  • Space hot desk workstations six feet apart or more
  • Stagger shifts and schedules to dilute workplace density
  • Buffer time for cleaning between hot desk occupants
  • Create robust cleaning protocol for each hot desk
  • Delegate and create a system for hot desk disinfection
  • Set capacity limits for rooms with multiple workstations
  • Revise floor plans to create new hot desking areas

Combine these hot desking safety tips with other coronavirus policies for maximum benefit—such as employee self-screenings or guidelines for face coverings. Emphasize hot desking in the context of COVID-19 workplace best practices, to create spaces that are socially distant, frequently disinfected, and monitored in the event of an outbreak.

For hot desking to be effective, it can’t be too cumbersome for employees. Build safe protocols and standards that are also simple. A cleaning buffer. Sign-in and sign-out processes. Constant review and adjustment of floor plans. Little efforts add up to big benefits.

Use hot desks to facilitate a safe return to work

A hot desking return to work may actually be one of the safest if undertaken correctly. Keep employees distant and separated. Clean workspaces thoroughly. Create a system for track and trace. Each incremental piece of a hot desking solution adds up to quelled coronavirus concerns.

Remember to keep health and safety at the forefront of every hot desking decision. Once employees know and feel that hot desks are a safe solution, they’ll have an easier time getting back to work. This is especially true for employees wary of a return to the workplace, who may feel more comfortable knowing how hot desking benefits their health and wellness.

Keep reading: How to use physical distancing software


Five Core Benefits of Desk Scheduling Software

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist

Over the next few years, workplace optimization is going to become increasingly important. Facilities management is already a booming career path, with demand growing fast. As new trends like alternative officing and telecommuting grow to become part of the new norm, so will technologies like desk scheduling software. It all amounts to better control over how you manage facilities and how employees interact within them.

A desk scheduling system is one of the simplest ways to add checks and balances to the workplace. There are substantial benefits to exploring new desking concepts and oversight controls. Below, we’ll look at the core benefits that come with turning your facilities into an on-demand, first-come first-serve system of workspace booking.

What is desk scheduling software?

A desk scheduling system has two parts: front-facing employee functions and back-end management functions.

On the front end, scheduling software helps employees interact with the workplace. Lyle needs a workspace for the day, so he pulls up the scheduling portal and searches for available desks. When he finds one, he books it for a desired amount of time. When Frank looks for a desk, he’ll do the same. The software ensures Lyle and Frank can’t book the same desk, which means no interruptions, disagreements, or miscommunication—only a peaceful, productive work experience.

Behind the scenes, facility managers gather plentiful data from employee booking habits to learn more about needs, wants, and expectations. It facilitates opportunities for change. If bench seats get booked twice as often as cubicles, a facility manager may reduce the number of cubicle spaces and expand benches for better space utilization.

There’s broad potential on both the front- and back-ends of a desk booking platform. Utilized properly, the system can create big benefits for both employees and companies. Here’s a look at five of them.

1. More time saved

Time spent looking for the perfect place to set up shop adds up fast. Imagine every employee spends just five minutes each day looking for a desk, and you manage 20 employees. That’s 100 wasted minutes each day! Those man hours add up, too. We’re talking just over eight hours per week and more than 415 hours wasted annually.

Desk booking cuts this time out because employees know the desk they scheduled will be open when they get there. There’s no searching for an open spot when you know where yours is and how long you booked it for.

2. Better space utilization

Desk booking software encourages employees to use space they might otherwise not. The desk they want isn’t available right now… but a similar desk nearby is open. Every alternative booking adds up to efficient use of available space and better accommodation of employees. Desks don’t sit idle—a booking system gently recommends these spaces to employees who might not otherwise think to seek them out.

3. Fewer interruptions

Imagine trying to host a meeting as someone opens the door every few minutes to check if the space is available. Think of how frustrating it would be to concentrate on a project if someone comes up to you and asks how long you’ll be using the space. These types of interruptions are wholly avoidable with desk scheduling software. If a desk or space doesn’t show up at the point of booking—or shows it’s occupied—employees can move on to the next option or book a different time. No interruptions. No friction. No headaches.

4. Occupancy compliance

In the era of social distancing and COVID-19 guidelines, space occupancy is top-of-mind. Facility managers face new challenges as they rearrange rooms, revise floor plans, and plan for new occupancies. Desk scheduling software can simplify the process—and improve the results.

Program rooms to limit occupancy at the point of booking. Make some desks off limits or unavailable. Display warnings or reminders to employees as they book certain desks or spaces. Booking space prior to utilizing it gives facility managers ample opportunities to promote better compliance.

5. Space management insights

Desk booking data gives facility managers real-time insights about the workplace. Employees book X spaces more often than Y spaces. They spend an average of two hours at Z spaces. Desks on floors two and three are utilized more often than desks on one and four. Every snippet of booking data recorded and processed by scheduling software becomes aggregated data that stakeholders can use to shape the workplace. All this in the name of cost control, space utilization, and employee support.

Desk scheduling software is a cornerstone of workplace management

To take full advantage of these benefits, facility managers need to realize opportunities for flexibility within a desk scheduling system. Everyone might be subject to the same booking process and utilization guidelines—but you have the power to change the types of workspaces available based on demand. Use a scheduling system to bring order to the workplace, then glean and act on information to better-shape it around the needs of employees. The results will be evident in the above benefits.

Keep reading: Streamline Desk Booking with Office Hoteling Software


What is Alternative Officing?

By Dave Clifton 
Content Marketing Strategist

There’s the generally accepted normal way to do things. Then, there’s the alternative. This is true for nearly any decision you’ll make—including how you design your office. Will you opt for the traditional office floor plan or give alternative officing a try?

If you’re not one to explore life’s many alternatives, now might be the time to start—after all, we’re in ‘uncertain times’ and embracing a ‘new normal.’ Sometimes, the alternative offers possibilities and options that the stock, standard, generally-accepted solution can’t. Such is the case with alternative officing today.

Alternative officing defined

To understand why alternative officing may be a better option than traditional desking concepts, it’s worth knowing exactly what alternative officing is. In simplest terms, we’re talking about office hoteling. Instead of employees roaming facilities, hoteling encourages them to book spaces for specific times. A solo desk on the first floor from 9am to noon. A conference space from 1pm to 2pm. A collaborative workspace from 4pm until the end of the day. Alternative officing preserves the flexibility and diversity of the workplace, while adding guardrails to how employees use it. Beyond hoteling, the ethos of this alternative also extends to non-traditional workplace elements. This might include workstations within a coffee bar or breakout spaces near conference rooms, for meeting spillover. It’s a distinct shift away from the classic idea of an office. The alternative office is a dynamic, flexible, comfortable space, built on helping employees do their best work.

Key benefits behind alternative officing

What incentives do employers have to explore alternative officing? When traditional workplace concepts become inefficient, it’s a matter of adapting. In the face of a catalyst like COVID-19, traditional workplaces lack the flexibility of alternative officing solutions. As companies adopt the alternative, they adopt flexibility, which leads to several key benefits:

  • Reduce workplace costs through space optimization
  • Improve productivity of employees under new workplace guidelines
  • Usher in new technologies to improve workplace utilization
  • Accommodate the increased mobility of employees, while maintaining order

Above all, alternative officing promotes teamwork, collaboration, and better workplace utilization. It does this by changing the framework of how people interact with the office environment. They’re not tied to their desk all day—they merely occupy a space as they need it, with the ability to change that space with a simple booking.

Where to utilize office hoteling

Alternative officing strategies are best suited in workplaces with dynamic staff. If a majority of your employees use multiple workspaces in the context of a workday, there’s ample opportunity for chaos to arise. Bring a hoteling concept to these environments to restore checks and balances to space utilization. For example, if Desk X is booked, someone can view similar desks to book at the same time or the next available time for Desk X.

Office hoteling is also effective in environments with a mixed workforce. For example, if your workplace has space for 100 desks and you manage 150 employees mixed between in-house and telecommuting, there’s an occupancy balancing act. Hoteling gives everyone a chance to book space that’s right for them, provided there’s a facility manager to coordinate schedules (75 in-house vs. 75 remote, for example).

How to utilize office hoteling

Alternative officing only works if you show employees how to make it work. Without an understanding of how to act in hoteling office space, the system will all but break down. Desks become occupied without reservations. Employees clash over the rights to certain desks or spaces. The system of law and order needs oversight itself, courtesy of a facility manager.

Hoteling software is essential, as well as the integrations that come with it. Desk booking via email. Real-time desk searches via Slack. Push notifications for wayfinding. Make sure there are numerous touchpoints that facilitate employee interaction with hoteling software. More important, make sure it all routes through a cohesive system that relays one employee-facing record of what’s booked vs. what’s available.

Companies also need to structure facilities to accommodate alternative officing. More individual workstations with amenities conducive to the type of work employees need to do. Lack of a home base also means workplaces need areas where employees can work privately, store their belongings, take phone calls, and otherwise exist outside of the hoteling system. Design an alternative office infrastructure that supports employees, not confine them.

The future demands alternative officing

How long before the alternative becomes the new norm? In the current workplace climate and in the face of uncertain CRE trends, space optimization is a lever businesses can pull for cost savings and resource planning. As office hoteling becomes more familiar for more employees, it’s also more likely businesses will continue to leverage these benefits.

Hoteling may be the alternative, but it’s nonetheless effective. It’s a proven approach to desking where traditional workplace concepts aren’t currently viable.

Keep reading: A Quick Guide to Office Hoteling Best Practices