By Nai Kanell
Vice President of Marketing
SpaceIQ

Social distance policies govern every physical workplace right now—and will continue to long after the coronavirus pandemic ends. Facility managers need to look at these policies through a long-term lens. Beyond rearranging a few desks and building distance into everyday operations, FMs need to track and optimize these new workplace concepts. To do this effectively requires workplace software for social distancing insights.

In the same way workplace software helps FMs understand space utilization and efficiency, it’s paramount as they create new workplace parameters. The rules that govern the workplace have changed, but the means by which we create and manage an optimal workplace haven’t. Workplace software holds the answers.

What kind of software should Facility Managers use?

Social distance in the workplace depends largely on workplace design. To modulate distance through thoughtful design, FMs need to lean on software with floor planning and seat tracking capabilities. Features like stack planning and move management are also important. The obvious choice for office software and social distancing is an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) software is also effective.

These two pieces of software give Facilities Managers the tools they need to identify proximity problems, tweak (or reinvent) seating arrangements, and oversee employee interaction with new distance-conscious workspaces.

Identify current capacity and modify for distancing

Before they can explore workplace physical distancing solutions, FMs need a baseline. That starts with a review of their current floor plan from a top-down view. Both IWMS and CAFM software provide floor plans at-scale, and allow managers to quickly identify areas where distance may be an issue:

  • Desking arrangements that are too close together
  • Communal areas where employees may congregate
  • Thoroughfares where traffic may become a concern
  • Workspaces meant to foster in-person, close collaboration

Redlining these areas on a floor plan shows facility managers where their priorities are as they modify the workplace. A few problem areas are easy to change; a floor plan full of concerns may need complete re-tooling for distance.

IWMS and CAFM software will also contextualize floor plans. A flex space with occupancy for 12 may only afford room for four hot desks with distancing measures. This information helps facility managers make conscious decisions when rearranging or recreating floor plans. It’s the key to understanding what’s possible and feasible within the confines of certain spaces and the workplace as a whole.

Create distance-conscious floor plans

With current floor plans in-hand and an IWMS or CAFM behind them, facilities managers have the office physical distancing tools they need to reimagine the workplace. Now it’s a question of approach: top-down or bottom-up?

A top-down approach considers macro changes first. An FM might look at a stack plan to determine dense departments or spaces operating at-capacity, and rearrange space to even-out the occupancy of different floors or workspaces. It’s also a smart approach for broad policy changes that affect how employees interact with the workplace. This approach benefits multifaceted facilities—offices spread over several floors or across a campus.

A bottom-up approach focuses on the smallest changes first and encourages a workspace-by-workspace adaptation of facilities. Can you move two or three desks instead of relocating an entire group of people? What space-specific changes can you make to create distance without disruption? Bottom-up approaches benefit organizations with smaller facility sprawl and those with already-distant desking concepts.

Regardless of approach, the result needs to be a new floor plan that’s built for social distancing in the workplace. While variables like room capacity and desk layout may change, the goal is still to provide a work environment that supports employees.

Manage the space and track modified metrics

Plug your new floor plan into your IWMS or CAFM tool to manage everything from the physical shift of your facilities to the way employees interact with them. Don’t forget the metrics, either! FMs need to know that employees are observing distance-focused changes and that the new workspace is efficient. Workplace software provides several key resources:

  • Seat delegation, assignment, and tracking tools, to enforce distancing policies
  • Workplace directory integration, so employees can quickly find one another
  • Workplace reporting metrics, to track key metrics in a modified environment
  • Wayfinding integrations, to help employees navigate the new workplace

All these features add up to better oversight and accountability in socially-distant workplaces. Facility managers can see the workplace, assign desks, enforce seating, and improve navigability—all without disruption. It culminates in a smooth transition from a workplace concept employees are familiar with, to one that’s necessary.

Software creates metrics and enables oversight

Social distancing may reduce your room capacity from 10 to six, or change the applicable desking concepts for your workplace—but that doesn’t mean you need to rebuild your workplace from nothing. Take what you have and adapt, and rely on the same workplace software you already use to help ease the transition.

Use workplace software to reimagine your workspace through a new lens: one that accommodates the new restrictions, policies, and concerns of a post-coronavirus world. Some changes will be major, others minor; they can all come together in harmony if you model them with the help of workplace software.

Keep reading: Modifying Your Workplace for Social Distancing