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Blog Workplace Thought Leadership

Making a Confident Return to the Workplace

By James Franklin
Chief Customer Officer
SpaceIQ 

For more than a year, uncertainty has been a common theme in our daily personal and business lives. Lockdowns shuttered businesses of all types and sizes and forced most employees to work from home. With vaccinations underway, many company owners and business leaders are determining if now is the time to return to the workplace. 

The pressure to have staff come back to work is being felt across the globe, especially as more companies publicly announce their returntotheoffice plans. Some countries, like Australiamoved back months ago, and other countries are using its plans as a guide for how to make it happen. As North America and Europe will likely delay their returns to fall 2021 or even 2022, the amount and speed of change is expected to grow. 

Australia’s success shows the workplace of the future is being defined by activity-based working (ABW) strategies and more diverse choices in where employees work. Space planning analytic tools are also evolving. Platforms, such as those offered by SpaceIQ, are essential for businesses to not only devise what workplace return methodology best meets their needs, but to also stay current with evershifting office space trends.    

Will Employees Want to Return? 

For some companies, it has been more than a year since employees were in the workplace. There was fear that work-from-home would hinder productivity. That is not the case. According to a Mercer study, 94% of 800 employers surveyed said that productivity was the same as or higher than it was before the pandemic, even with their employees working remotely. 

So, the time has come to welcome employees back to your workplace. What if some do not want to come back? A recent study published by TechRepublic showed 29% of employees said they would quit if forced to return in-person. Work-from-home offers flexibility not seen with an office job. Parents have reaped the benefits of consistent childcarethe freedom to make doctor appointments on their schedule, and not spending valuable time commuting to and from work. 

Because finding and retaining happy, engaged employees is difficult enough in today’s tight labor market, keeping top talent on board means more than good pay and a few in-office amenities. Employees, especially new ones, want flexibility in how and where they work. Implementing an ABW approach is another way to show your employees the value of being in the office by showing it is more than just a static space. Dynamic workplaces provide employees options. They can select where they work based on that day’s activity. 

ABW is all about flexibility. But that does not mean every employee will embrace new office structuresPeople are naturally averse to change and ABW is a big one. Some employees likely will resist more flexible environments. For CyberArk, an Israel-based information security company, most employees prefer static or designated seats as defined by the country’s prevailing work culture. Many global companies also discover that because workers don’t have assigned desks, they may lose the “personal” touch afforded by individual spaces. 

Fortunately, workplace technology can be used to implement a safe environment upon return and help managers to gauge how many of their employees are willing to return to the office. Better understanding employees needs will help you establish an approach that makes staff want to return to the office. In turn, they may be more productive and help foster a more positive workplace culture. 

Workplace Data and B2W 

Regardless of when a return is planned, it is unlikely all employees will come back all at once. Some elements of remote work will remainBut many companies are opting for flexible schedules of mixing inoffice and remote work.   

Workplace technology offers a seamless approach to both planning for and implementing a back-to-work strategy. Activity-based work is a shift from providing generic workplace that fits typical types and styles of work to designing space that is purpose built for certain activities. This means more productive space as it is tailored to the work it supports.   

This level of planning is not possible, at least not in an effective and timely manner, without technologies that support space planning and utilization, hotelingemployee health checks, contact tracing, social distancing, and other measures to keep staff as safe as possible. 

Workplace analytics are critical to implementing the what and how of your return to work. For global companies, implementation plans for one region may require only opening one office at 50 percent, while bringing 15 percent of employees back in another location. What if another surge hits? Are you ready to shutter one location, set up employees for remote work, and shift critical tasks to offices in another state or country? 

Return with Confidence 

If COVID has taught us anything, it is to be agile and confident in every decision. Employee safety is paramount when considering a return to the office. There is no room for error. That is why technology is key to managing every aspect of a back-to-work plan. 

Platforms such as those offered by SpaceIQ allow HR, Facilities, IT, and company leaders to weigh the pros and cons of their back-to-work strategies. We recently shared a return-to-work template to help guide your every move as employees come back. 

But a post-COVID return is only the beginning. Once the initial move is done, you should focus on contingency plans. Planning for inevitable contingencies is a smart, agile strategy. As Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook Chief Operating Officer, said: “…we’re all living some form of Option B.” 

Employees expect business leaders to have the answers and create workplaces that allow them to feel both safe and productive. Contingency planning is a great start. The next step in a confident return is thinking about the future. 

Less Structure, More Social 

What we knew as business normal is anything but now. The future workplace will be defined by how agile it can be in response to employee needs and new crises. SpaceIQ is strengthening the ArchibusSerraview, and SiQ product lines with technology tools that allow for maximum agility while supporting day-to-day productivity demands. 

Companies realized early on that remote work did not hinder productivity. Large organizations like Twitter embraced remote work by allowing employees to work offsite indefinitely. Others are likely to scale back on their investments in physical workplaces as we adjust to this new normal. 

Workplaces will not disappear completely, but businesses will make smarter decisions about how they use space. Technology lets you to analyze historic space utilization data and how that measures against today’s hybrid work structure. 

According to a McKinsey study30% of companies are likely to terminate leases while 55% will reconfigure how existing space is used. Space allocation is also shifting. CBRE survey of 10,000 companies showed employees want to come to the office 62% of the time for team collaboration and face-to-face time and only 16% for workplace amenities. What this shows is individual space and support services/amenities are less important than collaboration and social spaces. 

An Agile Future 

We have already seen a significant shift toward agile workplaces. Demand for remote work during the coronavirus pandemic shed light on the need for modern digital resources and technologies. Overnight, companies adopted platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Asana to help teams work from home. Not only have those adoptions remained, but they have also become more robust as companies build out their agile, digital infrastructures. 

Business of all types and sizes are looking for ways to create workplaces where employees want to be and where they can do their best work. SpaceIQ is here to help. We have solutions to manage real estate, optimize current and new workspaces, structure hybrid work schedules, and maintain every aspect of your workplace. For more information on how to partner with SpaceIQ for an agile workplace future, visit us at https://space.iq.com. 

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Blog Workplace Thought Leadership

The Future Workplace: A Digital Way of Thinking

By Nai Kanell
Chief Marketing Officer
SpaceIQ

As I look back at the wild roller coaster ride that was 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be easy to reflect on the negative things that have happened. Countless lives lost. A politically and socially divided nation. The ongoing battle for equal rights. Despite the bad, I believe there are silver linings that without the pandemic we may have never seen.

Digital transformation in manufacturing, sales, governmental agencies, and other industries is changing how we do business. COVID forced companies to embrace remote work and find ways to engage customers in new, innovative ways. One of many examples: Restaurants shifted to online and phone orders with curbside pickup.

This digital way of thinking did not stop there. Let’s look at a few more positive digital changes:

Collaborative Manufacturing

In the United States, some companies paused day-to-day manufacturing and retooled facilities to build desperately needed ventilators. Doing so likely saved lives and proved that we can adapt in a crisis if we put our minds to it.

Last March as COVID began its rampage across the U.S., Ford Motor Company shut down 30 auto plants. Five days after conferring with federal officials, Ford partnered with GE Healthcare to manufacture ventilators. Several other old-school manufacturers followed, including General Motors and Xerox. They retrofitted existing technologies from building engines to filling a critical medical need.

This willingness to forgo profits for better national health was the largest combined effort outside of wartime to accomplish in weeks what typically takes months to years. That is agility at its finest.

Property Records

Prior to COVID, it was nearly impossible to obtain property records without physically visiting a county recorder’s office. That may not sound hard but imagine owning land in another state. Now, county clerks pull the records and titles for you (thank you, social distancing). There is hope local and federal governments will finally agree to digitize information and lessen the exorbitant title fees property buyers must pay.

Cashless Payments

Girl Scout Cookies – I absolutely love them! But I often found myself without a cookie seller in my neighborhood. COVID stopped door-to-door sales in its tracks. And it was not easy to know if any Girl Scouts lived in my neighborhood.

Now, I can order directly from the Girl Scouts of America website or online from a Girl Scout I know. No more written order forms and running to the ATM for cash to pay for my Thin Mints. Last year, I paid via Venmo; this year I can use a credit card. Cashless payments are not only much easier for both sellers and buyers, but also lessen the spread of germs and viruses.

Workplaces

Pre-COVID, telecommuting and remote work were viewed as perks by many companies and a new trend for others. That changed in the blink of an eye as COVID forced businesses to close office doors and send employees home to work.

We were already moving toward agile workstyles. The laptop unchained us from standard desks and Wi-Fi cut the cords completely. This freedom allows us to work from anywhere – a requirement during COVID. But what happens now that offices, stores, factories, and other workplaces are reopening? Will remote work continue at its current levels or drop off as pressure mounts to return to a physical office?

Some business owners may argue that productivity suffers when employees work remotely. A Mercer study says otherwise. Of 800 employers surveyed, 94% said productivity was the same or higher than before the pandemic. Great Place to Work canvassed 800,000 employees at Fortune 500 companies and found that 87% were productive in a May 2020 measurement, compared to 74% in 2019.

In an article published last year, I mentioned employees want to be able to do their best from environments that enable them to thrive. And that is relative based on each person’s unique circumstances. Some home offices may lack essential elements like giant monitors, plenty of plugs for personal devices, fast internet, and supplies. Remote work can be distracting, with children jumping into view during Zoom meetings or the siren call of trashy afternoon TV.

The workplace will evolve into areas or pods of places where people can create their best work given the task they have on hand. My workday ebbs and flows between needing focus time and collaboration with colleagues. Businesses that offer collaboration and private spaces – and allow employees to move freely between them – will see enhanced productivity.

Social Creatures

COVID made socializing hard, and I believe most employees are ready to get back to a physical workplace. This is especially true with new employees. I onboarded several new SpaceIQ employees during the pandemic and have not met many of them face to face. It would be great to meet my new colleagues in person to see how tall they are, what their natural voices sound like, and take advantage of collaboration time.

When COVID forced people into remote work, it was not meant to be permanent and was not an excuse to say, “Let’s never meet in person.” There is a fine balance we all must make in navigating the future hybrid workplace. It will no longer be “I have to work in the office” or “I can only work from home”. Workplaces will evolve into places where serious collaboration and creativity happens.

A New Normal

The onus of finding the “new normal” for future offices falls on workplace professionals who must think hard about how to reimagine their workplaces and create productive places employees want to work. The challenge will be finding ways to attract and keep top talent by building spaces with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in mind. Manifest a workplace that gives employees all they need to do their best work in caring, supportive environments and they will come. It is a dream that is quickly becoming reality.

Keep reading: What Is An Alternative Workplace? The New Norm

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Blog Workplace Thought Leadership

Managing Assets in the Modern Workplace 

By Nick Stefanidakis
General Manager, Archibus
SpaceIQ

Look around your office, school, factory, or hospital. What do you see? Desks, chairs, computers, machinery, building systems, office equipment, supplies. All the things that make a business, educational institution, or healthcare facility run. Without them, there would be no products, services, classes, or emergency care.

Everything that occupies space is an asset. Though often taken for granted as part of a “normal” workday, each asset must be monitored, maintained, repaired, upgraded or replaced on a specific schedule. A robust asset management plan is an essential part of your broader workplace or space management strategy.

Asset Management Defined

Assets are defined as anything that brings value to an organization and are generally grouped into three categories:

  • Facility: Mechanical, HVAC, conveyance, elevators, lighting, plumbing,, landscaping,  etc.
  • Personnel: Badges, personal protective equipment, communication devices, vehicles, etc.
  • IT/Office: Desktop computers, laptops, printers, copiers, software licenses, etc.

The main goal of asset management is to get the greatest amount of value out of every asset while reducing the overall lifecycle cost of each item. Such focus can reap big rewards. First National of Nebraska Inc., the largest, privately owned U.S. banking company, showed a $120,000 annual gain in operating efficiencies via better asset and facility management.

A good asset management plan helps you plan for the future and make data-driven decisions. By accounting for factors such as replacement, repair costs, resale value, criticality, life expectancies, policies and procedures, efficiencies, and workload, it’s much easier to make informed decisions that can save time and money.

The Benefits of Asset Management

Effective asset management can impact an entire organization. Knowing what assets you have, where they are located and used, their condition and current value provides insights on required maintenance plans, repair costs, and budgets.

For example, understanding how much your organization’s computers cost, how old they are, how long they are expected to last, their repair and upgrade histories, and associated downtime costs when they aren’t working, it’s much easier to do a cost/benefit analysis to determine whether to repair or replace the equipment.

Asset management planning helps:

  • Improve ROI by providing a common operating picture that aligns assets to an organization’s objectives
  • Plan what-if scenarios to optimize enterprise asset investments
  • Empower asset management teams to accomplish their goals with coordinated end-to-end resourcing
  • Optimize capital and other asset investments through integrated life cycle management for planning, acquisition, utilization, repurposing, and decommissioning/disposal
  • Enable staff to quickly inventory assets with mobile apps

Asset Management Plan Elements 

Creating an effective management plan is all in the details. Computer updates are different than furniture replacement or HVAC maintenance. Your asset management plan should cover five essential steps:

  1. Take inventory: The asset inventory should include equipment inside and outside your building. At the same time, gather as much information about the assets as possible: primary user(s), location, manufacturer information, serial numbers, warranties, condition, service histories, etc.
  2. Determine costs: Each asset has costs for its entire life cycle, not just what you spent on them. Budget for overall lifespan for each asset, maintenance, upgrades, and disposal.
  3. Set service levels: Do laptops need annual security upgrades? How often should the printer be cleaned? Clearly state the unique needs of each asset, then ensure the defined service level meets the needs of the primary users: your employees.
  4. Think proactively: Staying ahead of problems will save money in the long run. Base service levels on keeping assets in prime condition until it is time to replace them.
  5. Plan for the future: Look down the road for times where asset improvements will be needed. Then, set aside budget to meet those needs.

Asset Management During a Crisis 

Proactive planning shines the most during a crisis. COVID-19 shut entire economies down for weeks on end. Though office doors, showrooms, manufacturing floors, and schools may have been shuttered, maintenance and upkeep of the assets within them did not pause. Once employees and students migrate back to work and school, they expect computers, air conditioning, lighting, and other elements to still be operational. That is where an asset management plan is key. Knowing what needs to be done allows for faster decision-making regardless of a crisis.

Some assets require regular maintenance regardless of social or economic disruptions. But a crisis like COVID-19 may alter how and when service is done.

Here are a few things to consider if you are forced to modify your asset management plan:

  • Use: Are your assets used more or less during a crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic? Does this affect typical wear and asset life cycles?
  • Locations: If the number of employees working remotely has changed, do you have a plan to keep track of equipment locations?
  • Equipment purchase/sale: Have your real estate plans changed along with the number of employees using the building? Do you have a plan to manage your assets if you relocate or sell quickly?
  • Maintenance: During an emergency, which equipment is most important to maintain on a regular basis? Are there some which are less essential?

Think Ahead, But Be Flexible 

You can’t anticipate every contingency or emergency, but it’s important to remain flexible with your asset management plan. As COVID-19 or other crises change the way workplaces operate, businesses and schools must adapt their space management plans to meet each challenge.

An Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) is a powerful solution that helps you make adjustments when changes must be made quickly and on a large scale. Archibus Asset Management provides an integrated view of all assets, including properties, buildings, land, structures, equipment, and furniture.

Keep Reading: How to use an IWMS for asset management

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Blog Workplace Thought Leadership

Stay Ahead of Problems with Preventive Maintenance 

By Nick Stefanidakis
General Manager, Archibus
SpaceIQ

As COVID-19 has shown us, predicting the future is a coin flip. Early on, people thought the virus would last a few weeks. No one believed we’d still be wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, and awaiting vaccines more than a year later.

Businesses also could not foresee the impact shutdowns and health mandates would have on productivity, operations, and facility maintenance. That included the upkeep of assets such as networks, computers, lighting, HVAC, furniture, and other items that make up a modern workplace.

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s the importance of a solid preventive maintenance plan for both everyday operations and crises. Staying ahead of issues not only saves valuable budget, but also helps ensure your workplace is ready to welcome employees back if a shutdown occurs.

Defining Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is essential to keep buildings and assets in optimal condition. Whether large or small, single location or global offices, all workplaces contain components that need to be regularly maintained and updated.

Assets are among an organization’s highest expenditure. According to a report by Aberdeen, a global B2B behavioral marketing firm, the cost for one hour of business downtime grew from $260,000 in 2014 to $492,000 in 2016. That number is likely much higher today.

Unlike corrective maintenance – an on-demand service to correct a specific issue at an unforeseen time – preventive maintenance is predictable. Tasks performed at regular intervals, such as periodic maintenance, scheduled inspections, cleaning, and updates, can extend asset life, improve conditions, and make corrective maintenance less frequent and/or costly.

That can mean significant time and money savings for organizations with limited budgets and resources. Mount Royal University (MRU), one of Canada’s top destinations for undergraduate studies, automated its preventive maintenance with Archibus after corrective support tickets grew from 3,000 in 2012 to more than 14,000 in 2020. Before, facilities staff spent hours manually creating maintenance reports.

“We didn’t have single source of truth when it came to generating reports,” said Jason Philipchuk, MRU Archibus Technology Support Analyst. “With Archibus, we improved our equipment inventory to ensure assets needing preventive maintenance were scheduled and given a means to track asset life cycle. That way, we keep our craftspeople out in the field and not in office working on reports.”

Three Steps to Preventive Maintenance

To develop an effective workplace preventive maintenance routine, three steps are essential. They include taking inventory, developing maintenance procedures, and establishing critical priorities.

  • Take Stock of Your Assets

Without an inventory of assets, it’s impossible to set an effective preventive maintenance schedule. A comprehensive inventory accounts for all assets in need of regular maintenance. These include facility-related assets, personal equipment, and information management infrastructure. While determining what you have, gather information and relevant documents about each asset – age, maintenance procedure by manufacturer, history, upgrade dates, and technical diagrams.

A great place to start is taking a holistic look at your facilities supporting systems like HVAC, plumbing, lighting, electrical, and emergency equipment and what’s inside or attached to them. Refer to architectural drawings or space plans to locate everything on the list.

If necessary, your information management inventory should include all personal items like desktops, laptops, printers, copiers, and other IT equipment, including equipment used by remote employees.

  • Establish Maintenance Procedures and Timetable

With your asset inventory in hand, it’s time to design a specific preventive procedure for each asset by standard or individually. The procedure should be based on manufacturers’ recommendations; however, some will be augmented to support more robust activities due to COVID-19 or other considerations.

Once completed, use manufacturer or company standards to set a regular preventive maintenance schedule. Ask yourself all the necessary questions that will assist your scheduling process:

  • Is the procedure concurrent?
  • At what frequency?
  • Do assets require different procedures at different times?
  • Do I have the right personnel to do the work as required? Should I consider outsourcing?

Next, you’ll need to determine the internal workflow that governs maintenance work orders. Evaluate maintenance budgets, resource allocation, work order issuance and approval, workload, and invoice payments.

  • Prioritize

When resources are scarce, you may lack the capacity to stay on an asset maintenance schedule. Determining your critical priorities for preventive maintenance is not an exact science. Although these decisions can be subjective, it’s important to prioritize what matters most, particularly when your business is affected by crises like COVID-19 that alter typical routines.

Cost is an additional factor in determining service priorities. Facilities managers should consider the cost of both regular maintenance and repairs/replacements. If a piece of equipment is out of order, how long will it be out of commission? How many employees will be unable to perform their jobs and for how long? What does it cost in lost productivity?

Keep Preventive Maintenance Plans Flexible

The COVID-19 pandemic upended some typically predictable routines. Though some maintenance should be consistent, the pandemic affected each workplace differently, sometimes even from one week to the next. Some assets require scheduled maintenance, no matter who is or isn’t in the office. Other preventive maintenance plans substantially change based on how COVID-19 or other crises impacts staffing, production, and customer service.

Due to COVID-19, workspace maintenance may not seem to be as pressing of an issue right now. But neglecting preventive maintenance can have expensive, long-term consequences. The routines themselves may change, but consistency is still important. Your preventive maintenance plan should be flexible enough to allow for necessary adjustments without completely disrupting traditional routines.

Flexibility is even more important as employees who have been working remotely come back to work. Facilities managers must balance the needs of on-site workers with those still working from home.

Benjamin Franklin’s famously said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” to promote better fire safety in the 1770s. That idiom holds true today as businesses face “fires” daily. Taking the steps to mitigate damage is smart space and facility management. Preventive maintenance strategies can be one of your greatest protection now and into the future.

Keep reading: What is Facilities Maintenance Support Services?

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Blog Workplace Thought Leadership

School’s In – For Educational Facility Improvements

By Danielle Moore
Director, Archibus Marketing
SpaceIQ

The pivot to distance learning during COVID-19 has left many schools empty. For some students, it’s been over a year since they’ve seen the inside of a classroom. Since the onset of the pandemic, educational institutions of all types have been looking for ways to safely restart classes.

But those silent halls and rooms are not being ignored. Educational facilities managers are taking advantage of vacant buildings to perform routine upkeep and make structural, system, and aesthetic improvements. A powerful integrated workplace management system (IWMS) can help organize, schedule, and manage these projects start to finish.

Most educational facilities wait until the summer months to begin construction, renovation, and maintenance projects. Improvements and upkeep projects can be complex and difficult to manage while class is in session. With distance learning, facilities managers are finding plenty of opportunities to get jobs done outside the typical eight- or nine-week summertime window.

COVID-19 fuels introspection

School administrators are looking within to prioritize projects, specifically health and wellness improvements. HVAC system upgrades are top of mind for many. The forced air infrastructure in schools works overtime to deliver clean air to classrooms, study areas, cafeterias, gyms, and offices. Unfortunately, HVAC is likely one of the most under-maintained, antiquated systems in a school. According to a recent study by Lawrence Berkeley and UC Davis, only ~15% of classrooms in California meet the state’s ventilation standards for schools. Empty school rooms mean facilities managers can orchestrate much-needed updates and maintenance.

There’s also the future to consider. COVID-19 has forever marked how education is delivered. We’ll likely see ongoing sanitization standards and public health measures to help keep schools open if another crisis hits.

Now is the perfect time for schools to install hand sanitation and washing stations, realign floor layouts to accommodate social distancing, when needed, and create new facility protocols that foster health and safety for students and staff. That also can mean creating new strategies for teaching and how they affect the physical learning environment.

Highlight referendum projects

School closings are a prime opportunity for referendum projects. These plans—which have already been funded by taxpayers—are generally large and protracted. They can be disruptive to students when noisy construction work spills over into the school year.

Vacant buildings mean facilities managers can make vast headway-or even complete-bigger buildouts before classes resume. These projects can include everything from gymnasium and auditorium renovations to new campus buildings or the decommissioning of shuttered facilities. Even sport complex and parking lot improvements are more feasible.

Referendum projects across the country are gaining support as distance learning drags on. The Madison County School District in Wisconsin saw more than $350 million approved for school infrastructure in 2020 during the peak of the pandemic. It was not alone. Districts in TexasCaliforniaIllinois, and dozens of other states passed coronavirus-fueled school construction and renovation projects ranging from tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. The bane of distance learning quickly rolled into opportunities for school improvements.

Small improvements matter, too

Those big, taxpayer-funded projects are just a beginning. Now is a perfect time to tackle the backlog of support requests from educators, administrators, and students. When classes are in session, many  repair-or-replace projects are backburnered. It’s not easy to resurface the gym floor when basketball games are scheduled. Nor is repaving the parking lots when spots are filled with student and staff vehicles.

With space to work, facilities managers can divide and conquer to empty the support ticket queue. No cars in the parking lots makes repaving a breeze. Canceled sporting events means a fresh coat of lacquer for the gym floor can dry and cure. Though small in scope, resolving support ticket requests will make a huge difference to teachers and students when classes resume.

The silver lining of distance learning

School facility projects accomplished during COVID-19 come with a greater sense of purpose. Instead of a race against the clock to complete projects before students return to class, administrators can focus on coordinating projects from a value standpoint. It means looking at improvements and maintenance from a long-term benefits perspective, as opposed to strictly a cost-benefit or time-sensitive approach. It’s not “Which projects will be less disruptive to students?”; it’s “Which projects will deliver the most benefits?”

This opportunity for improvement to school facilities spans every type of institution—from K-8 to high school to college campuses and even satellite learning centers. When the bell rings and students come back to class after the long hiatus, they’ll find themselves in a learning environment that makes that return seamless. It may not be the school they left, but it’ll be one they can learn to love.

Keep reading: Facilities Management Software for Schools

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Workplace Thought Leadership

Technology Drives Safer Back-to-School Efforts Amidst COVID-19

By Ian Morley
Chief Product Officer
SpaceIQ

What is your new student capacity under social distancing?

This simple question can flummox even the most seasoned campus planner or school district facilities specialist. Many smaller universities and larger school districts don’t have a ready way to access this information, which can complicate efforts to ensure a safe school year.

With an integrated workplace management system (IWMS), education leaders can uncover important insights about their space inventory. This data empowers schools to quickly identify, modify, and repurpose square footage to satisfy COVID guidelines while supporting student learning needs.

Establish Usable Square Footage

Understanding revised building and classroom capacity based on COVID-19 impacts is a unique challenge. It’s not a simple mathematical formula run on a spreadsheet. Space planners need to aggregate data from multiple buildings across an entire district or campus. Educational leaders depend on accurate insights in order to safely bring back students—yet many do not have a system that can collect and analyze this important information.

The process starts with establishing a precise overview of your school’s space inventory. You need to know what type of space you have, how much square footage it contains, where it is located, and its condition. Even the American College Health Association (ACHA) recommends ascertaining “allowable occupancy in order to control workflow and/or establish maximum attendance.” But without being able to view space inventory in an easy-to-digest format, schooler planners have a difficult time implementing social distancing.

And it’s not just classroom spaces—schools are appropriating rooms that were once gathering areas and turning them into learning zones. Ancillary areas like gymnasiums, auditoriums, theater stages, and music rooms are prime spots to spread out students. Even a cafeteria can be transformed into a classroom under these circumstances. This strategy is echoed by the ACHA, which encourages schools to “post maximum occupancy in common break areas and configure to accommodate appropriate physical distancing.” This information is not only essential for applying physical distancing but also tracking areas that require sterilization and disinfection.

Real-World Education Applications

Bob Lawn, a CAFM Specialist with California’s Long Beach Unified School District, oversees 87 sites. His experience implementing social distancing underscores some of the unexpected complications that can arise. His department used a 20% reduction of classroom capacity to account for shelving, cabinets, etc. and estimate the usable classroom space across the district, which resulted in a decrease of students from 30 to 16. To gain a more accurate percentage, he calculated each room’s usable square footage by subtracting space occupied by woodwork, desks, and shelves.

“By making the necessary calculations in Archibus, we established that each student needs 46 square feet. That’s when we had to start thinking about alternative spaces beyond traditional classrooms. So we ran an analysis for spaces over 100 square feet to give us a new list of learning areas to work with,” Lawn explained.

Michael Chambers, a design and construction project manager for St. John’s University, ran into the same challenge of calculating class capacity. He stresses that it’s not enough to assume seat count will be reduced by a fixed 30%. For example, an architectural feature like a column could easily affect the layout.

“We also needed to locate all common spaces on campus, especially since they will likely be empty through the fall. Using the [Archibus] Space Console solution, we could determine if those areas have the appropriate infrastructure, such as HVAC and electric, to accommodate a classroom or online learning resource,” said Chambers.

Locate and Mitigate Hot Spots

In addition to classrooms, COVID-19 is forcing modifications for faculty and support staff spaces. Everything from break rooms and reception areas to benching and shared offices need to be scrutinized for exposure risks. It is imperative to quickly identify where people are in close quarters and what solutions can reduce risk in these hot spots.

For example, new features in Archibus V25.2 allow users to put a 6-foot radius around each desk to determine where there are conflicts. This provides an accurate list of people who need to be moved. In many cases, layout modifications aren’t feasible because campus space is already near capacity pre-COVID.

“Based on the insights from Archibus, we decided to implement shift schedules for departments,” Chambers explained. “We classify spaces as essential, reservable, and work shifts. Now we have reservable spaces for touchdown spots, rotating schedules, and every day seats.”

Both Chambers and Lawn leveraged data from an IWMS to run space scenarios. Without this type of software, however, they would be forced to use spreadsheets, manual measurements, and other cumbersome methods—none of which ultimately provide the critical insights schools are depending on to modify their layouts.

“These tools are allowing us to solve needs,” Chambers stressed. “This has been essential to us feeling prepared and ready to welcome faculty, students, and admin back to some form of normal. We can leverage our data to answer and solve tough questions in preparation for reopening.”

Keep reading: What is a Smart IWMS and What are its Features?

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Workplace Thought Leadership

The Rise of Hoteling During the COVID Era

By Nai Kanell
Vice President of Marketing
SpaceIQ

Well before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) forever changed global markets, many business owners discovered the strategic value of workplace hoteling—a workplace management process that allows employees, visitors, and guests to search for and reserve a workspace (desk, cubicle, phone booth, etc.) for a specified period of time.

COVID-19 forced most business owners to shut down as the pandemic spread. But like most crises, the danger died down enough for office doors to reopen. As employees return to work, employers are enacting guidelines meant to keep workers as safe as possible: social distancing, intense cleaning, and contact tracing.

Add hoteling to that mix. The days of sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at desks are over—for now. Hoteling has gone from a helpful workplace tool to a necessary precaution amid COVID-19. The use of hotel desks—alongside measures such as staggered work shifts and adjusted layouts—allow companies to better manage who sits where and when.

From Office Management to Virus Prevention

Hoteling isn’t a new concept by any means, but it has taken on a new role in 2020 and beyond. For more than 20 years, hotel desks—and the technology that governs them—has been helping companies move from standard to flexible layouts. In an activity-based workplace, employees have the freedom to work in a spot that best suits the task at hand. They can simply reserve a desk at the beginning of the day and have confidence there is a seat with their digital name waiting for them. Since COVID-19 has shifted the way we can safely work in the office, hoteling has morphed into a social distancing strategy.

 

Hoteling combats the risk of COVID-19 on multiple fronts. One major area it helps control is density. In a pre-COVID world, a density of 200 employees was perfectly normal. Now only half of that is permissible. But do you really want dozens of people back on the first day? The right amount is realistically around 20 people, with incremental increases every week thereafter. Or you might implement shift days with a set number of employees.

This is important as back-to-work waves may be subject to fluctuations. Hoteling is one solution that can be employed to have an accurate headcount in real time. “Facility managers will be reliant on proptech sensors for managing real-time data on the crowds within buildings and alerts that signify if too many people are in one place at one time,” according to an article in Facility Executive.

Hoteling is also being repurposed for practical considerations such as cleaning. Without a booking audit, how do you determine which desks have been occupied and need a deep cleaning every day? The CDC’s guidelines for office buildings state “at least daily, clean and disinfect all surfaces that are frequently touched by multiple people,” including workstations. Hoteling shows at a glance which areas have been reserved and thus require disinfection. Janitorial teams can prioritize which surfaces need attention, especially as sanitizing requires more contact time to kill germs and bacteria.

Organizations can also lean on hoteling to assist with contact tracing. Identifying a COVID-19 case and investigating its possible path of transmission was once the domain of public health departments, but now businesses must fold this process into their operations. The CDC notes that “prompt identification, voluntary isolation or quarantine, and monitoring of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 and their contacts can effectively break the chain of disease transmission and prevent further spread of the virus.” With hoteling, workplace managers have records of exactly where a person sat and who was also in that vicinity.

Technology makes it more efficient for companies to monitor employee movement and enact COVID-19 protocols when needed. For example, SVLive—a SpaceIQ product—converts existing wifi and wired networks into thousands of smart sensors. The system shows what devices are active and who’s logged in and where. This real-time data allows businesses to quickly address possible COVID-19 transmissions within a highly secure network safeguarded by MQTT and HTTPS protocols (both use SSL X.509 certificates).

The Human Side of Hoteling

Having the right technology is critical to managing return-to-work and ensuring the greatest possible safety. But hoteling is far more than a reservation system—it’s actually your secret weapon to preserving productivity during these stressful times. Hoteling empowers employees at all levels to focus on priority tasks.

For example, a space planner can use hoteling to create pre approved zones, which effectively limits where people can work. This approach provides full control over which seats are reservable and which aren’t. Hoteling eliminates possible confusion about which desks are open, thus reinforcing social distancing. Employees will have reassurance that there’s a dedicated seat waiting for them as well as an understanding of where colleagues are booked.

One of the most important benefits of hoteling is that it offers employees a feeling of safety. Remember that a desk reservation is just one piece of essential information they need to process. Hoteling can go a long way toward diminishing anxiety with returning to the office. In fact, that’s imperative, according to the National Safety Council. It advises using respect and transparency to counter employee worry. Hoteling shows that your company is taking active measures to protect their safety.

Keep reading: What is Hoteling and Should You be Using it?

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Workplace Thought Leadership

Employer Liability & COVID-19: No Clear-Cut Case

By Sean K. Palmer
Associate General Counsel
SpaceIQ & Archibus + Serraview

The financial business impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is undeniable. Reports show that more than 100,000 U.S. small businesses have shuttered their doors for good, despite the $700 billion in stimulus funds from the federal government. Companies who have survived are anxiously working to get employees back to work as safely as possible.

Back-to-work initiatives beget an important question: If an employee returns to work, and contracts COVID-19 in the workplace, is the employer legally liable? The short answer is…it depends. The long answer is much more complicated.

Because COVID-19 is new there is no case law with regards to the virus that shows explicit employer liability if an employee becomes ill at the office. There is the argument that it is the same as getting the flu from a coworker. Would you sue your employer for that? Probably not. However, COVID-19 is not the flu, and employees expect their companies to do everything possible to protect them from this deadly disease.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause, employers have a duty to “furnish to each of his employees a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” To prove liability, employees must show their employer breached that duty and that the breach is the proximate cause of their illness. In layman’s terms, the employee must show that he/she became sick because of what the employer did or did not do.

One of the challenges to an employee trying to prove COVID-19 liability is meeting the “free from recognized hazards” portion of that clause. Mitigating the danger of an employee tripping on an edge of exposed carpet is easy; tack it down and the problem is then solved. Coronavirus, however, does not present itself so simply. Several studies show up to 80% of infected people are asymptomatic or exhibit mild symptoms. How does an employer have a duty to eradicate the “recognized hazards” of COVID-19 when it can’t see them?

A second issue is that proximate cause with respect to an airborne virus is very tricky. “Certainly, everything an employer can do to mitigate the risk to their employees increases the likelihood of defending a claim if someone contracts COVID-19 in the workplace,” said John Hutchins, a partner with BakerHostetler, a national  law firm with 1,000 attorneys and 17 offices in the U.S. “It may be difficult for employees to hold their company liable for a coronavirus infection because they’d have to prove they contracted it in the office. That can be difficult in a pandemic. The more an employer does to reduce the chances that an employeeI could contract the disease in the office, the better argument it has to successfully argue that it’s just as likely that the employee contracted it at the grocery store.”

Hutchins believes employers should ask whether they really need to ask employees to come back. “An employer whose employees are productive when working from home should ask, “Why are we asking our employees to come back to work? I’m perfectly safe working at home and have 100% control over my own environment. If my employer wants me to come to an environment where I don’t have 100% control of my own health, they should have a clearly articulated reason

Covid-19, by definition, is novel. Thus, there are no easily identifiable standards or analogous case law on whether employers should or shouldn’t ask workers to return to the office, Hutchins said. Safety measures, such as pre-entry health screenings, social distancing, and one-way walkways, social distancing, mandatory mask policies, are key to reducing employer liability. More importantly, employers should carefully monitor employee health, immediately send anyone exhibiting COVID-19 home, and immediately begin contact tracing, when possible.

“At that point, it’s critical to not only send the impacted employee home, but also everyone he or she had contact with,” he added. “Communicate with all employees that the area in which the employee worked is being disinfected and anywhere they may have traveled in the office. Proactive response is the best way to mitigate liability. But, certainly, it’s no guarantee. Every situation is fact-specific. There are far too many variables to be able to advise any particular employer that they have done everything necessary to avoid potential liability.”

For employees with health conditions or special circumstances, employers should consider work-from-home options, that allow work to continue, without showing favoritism. Further, employers should consider how they can empower their employers to take control of their own willingness to take risks that are inherent with the coronavirus return-to-the-workplace quandary. “Employers should consider a policy where they say, “If you’re not comfortable with the health risks of returning to the office, then you don’t have to come,” Hutchins said.

Predicting employer liability, if a person contracts COVID-19 in the workplace, is impossible. There will be myriad factors unique to each claim and the courts must examine every one on a case-by-case basis. Hutchins believes litigation over these issues is likely because there will always be plaintiffs and plaintiffs’ lawyers. However, the burden of proof will rest on the plaintiffs to prove that the employer breached its duty, and as a proximate cause of that breach, the employee contracted the virus.

“The best we can say right now is if an employee contracts COVID-19 at work, their employer might be liable,” he said. “Each state will handle cases differently, with varying state laws impacting what proof required for placing blame. For instance, many states have comparative negligence statutes now, so a jury has to sort out how much of the blame rests with each party to the lawsuit. In a lawsuit alleging, “You forced me to come back to work and I got sick,” the variables that a jury would need to consider are almost limitless. It’s too early to know how all of this will shake out, which is why preventive measures in the workplace is a smarter option than scrambling to show, in hindsight, you did everything possible to protect your employees.”

Keep reading: COVID-19 and Employee Fear on Returning to the Workplace

About John Hutchins

John Hutchins is a veteran trial and technology lawyer with broad experience encompassing complex commercial litigation and trial work, privacy and data security matters, and compliance and strategic counseling on technology matters and transactions. While his nearly 30 years of litigation experience runs the gamut in subject matter — from software and eminent domain, to vintage race cars and death penalty habeas corpus — he has particular experience in matters involving privacy and data security, technology, intellectual property, government procurement, restrictive covenants and breach of fiduciary duty. He has tried numerous cases to jury verdict in state and federal courts, as well as bench trials, arbitrations, administrative and other evidentiary proceedings.

Categories
Workplace Thought Leadership

Back-to-Work Planning & Employee Sentiment

By Nai Kanell
Vice President of Marketing
SpaceIQ

Going to the office has drastically changed, and that makes workplace policy and facility management more complex. While you’re implementing new safety measures such as social distancing, mask wearing, and disinfecting, don’t forget to include employee sentiment as part of your back-to-work plan.

Employee sentiment matters because this is also a stressful time for employees, and you need to establish trust as they return to work. Generally speaking, stress negatively affects physical and mental health, turnover and absenteeism rates, productivity and motivation, morale and complaints, and even on-site accidents. The world is dealing with collective trauma, and your back-to-work plans can exacerbate or diminish those challenges.

Employees understand that the coronavirus is dangerous. They may be familiar with well-documented cases of workplace infection and feel vulnerable to catching the virus or spreading it to others. They may worry that they are putting their lives on the line to come to work. Listen to their concerns and ideas and take them into consideration when you make your back-to-work plans. When you ask them to risk coming into the office, your actions should reassure your employees that you’re worthy of their trust and that you’re working to reduce that risk.

Employee Sentiment Matters

Your hard work and good intentions for reentry planning won’t mean much if those plans don’t match employee needs. In a recent Future Workplace survey, employee experience ranked first among 50% of HR and business leaders as their top initiative for 2020. Since a high percentage of employees are anxious about returning to work, employers can’t afford to ignore employee sentiment.

Most employees feel job-related stress at least some of the time. When you add in COVID-19-related challenges, the stress may be difficult to manage. Although you may think you are doing an excellent job following CDC guidelines or even going beyond recommendations, that may not be enough for some employees, especially those with health concerns or extra COVID-19-related responsibilities.

Unlike momentary stress such as a looming deadline or an important presentation, COVID-19 stress is chronic, unrelenting, and can directly impact the workplace. It’s safe to assume your employees will be stressed at least some of the time. They may experience physical and emotional symptoms of their stress.

Although most remote workers continue to be productive at home, three factors (in addition to safety and security) influence well-being and work effectiveness: trusting relationships, social cohesion, and individual effectiveness. Employees who feel they can share their experiences and concerns without repercussions will feel safer in the workplace, and this can positively impact performance.  It’s not just about creating a physically safe working environment. You also need to create an emotionally safe workplace.

A cookie-cutter approach won’t suit everyone’s needs. If you listen to your employees and respond appropriately, they will appreciate your efforts. They will remember that you cared about them and their needs during a crisis, which can earn you employee loyalty and trust for years to come.

Gauging Employee Sentiment

You can create both formal and informal listening opportunities. The easiest way to get a lot of information quickly is to use workplace reentry surveys. Surveys make it easy for employees to respond quickly and to do so at their own convenience.

Start by gathering feedback about four main areas:

  • Physical Workplace: social distancing, mask wearing and enforcement, cleaning/hygiene, health screenings and contact tracing, ventilation
  • Remote Working: IT support, software/hardware issues, communication, manager oversight, performance and expectations
  • Work-Life Balance: personal health concerns, child care, homeschooling, elder care, household unemployment/illness, anxiety/depression, trust in management
  • HR Policies: compensation, access to FFRCA funds, sick leave, bereavement leave, vacation days, health insurance (including contract/part-time workers)

It’s critical to assess what employees know and how they feel. Do they understand your policies? Are they aware of your efforts to promote safety? Are they doing well emotionally? Do they feel safe confiding their concerns? Doing so will allow you to determine if you have been communicating well and whether your employees believe your workplace is a physically and emotionally safe place to work.

Listen to Your Employees

Even when you implement safety measures, it may not be enough for all your employees to feel safe. This holds true nationally, where one survey shows that fewer than half of employees say safety measures like social distancing will make them feel more comfortable returning to work.

Whether you’re gathering data from surveys or personal interviews, communication will help employees learn more about their individual circumstances, some of which may affect work. An employee living with medically fragile people, for example, may be more cautious than others. A parent with elementary-aged children may appreciate flexible hours.

Survey data can provide valuable insight. You can use sample employee sentiment surveys or create your own using survey software or Google forms.

You may also want to interview your employees individually and institute an open-door policy. Listening closely can help you understand your employees’ needs and circumstances. Interviews can provide qualitative data that surveys miss and allow you to ask follow-up questions. Through your actions, you can show your empathy and help your employees trust that you care about them.

Communicate Early and Often

In a rapidly changing environment, emotions are strong. Uncertainty and change are hotbeds for anxiety, stress, and depression. Keep your employees informed of situations both inside and outside the workplace to provide reassurance. Even if it’s bad news, employees will respond better to the truth, especially when it’s delivered early. They will grow to trust you as a source of accurate information, and employees will appreciate extra planning time when you give them advance notice of changes.

Don’t forget employee  mental health. Help them recognize the signs of stress and provide resources for mental health aids and intervention. Inform them about your workplace’s mental health benefits and hotlines. Consider virtual socializing opportunities to help employees connect with each other. Refer employees to mental health apps that can help manage anxiety. Cultivate a safe place for employees to share their concerns.

Above all, keep the lines of communication open. It’s particularly important for remote employees to maintain a strong connection with the office. Whether you use email, task management software, apps, and/or other tools, maintain IT support and use the same tools consistently so that you and your employees can respond quickly if a crisis arises.

Sometimes, bad news is inevitable. Your decisions may be unpopular. Even when you try to be as flexible as possible, some situations are beyond your control. When you communicate your decision-making process, show that you’ve taken employee concerns into consideration. Modeling honesty and transparency will help your employees do the same with you, and this will help you create a better employee experience.

The COVID-19 situation is difficult for everyone at the office. When you’re planning workplace reentry, risk and uncertainty can create high levels of anxiety in an already stressful situation. If you take the time to listen to employees, gauging employee sentiment will help you create an effective, responsive back-to-work plan, and build a higher level of communication and trust.

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

Categories
Workplace Thought Leadership

Work From Home: Not a Forever Option

By Nai Kanell
Vice President of Marketing
SpaceIQ

As articles continue to show that company after company believes it is a good idea to embrace employees working 100% remote, an uncomfortable thought sinks in. What if SpaceIQ followed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s vow to let his employees work from home “forever?”

There are organizations like Gitlab that have been successful in 100% remote work. However, it’s a tech company and employees knew what they were getting into when they signed on. I doubt healthcare, banking, or manufacturing could ever move to 100% work from home (WFH). But what about a SaaS company like SpaceIQ, or its owner ArchibusSerraview?

I am a proponent of remote working to some degree because it allows you to source the best talent and, ultimately, create a workforce culture that supports flexibility. Before COVID-19, employees weren’t pushing for 100% remote working. We wanted flexibility in our work schedules and accommodation from our employers. There are some of us who’d like to start later in the day because “productivity” and “morning” aren’t compatible. And what about parents who need to drop kids off at school after the start of “normal” work hours? The list goes on: put in a day’s work even when we’re sick; save a PTO day for a real vacation, not watching a plumber fix the water heater.

We’re asking for freedom to work when we want, how it is best for our productivity, and where we can get the job done while supporting our teams.

There are many disadvantages to 100% WFH—excluding mandated remote work due to COVID-19. Here are 10 reasons to think “flexibility” instead of “entirely” when it comes to WFH.

  1. Home Not-So-Sweet Home. As commercial real estate becomes more expensive, residential real estate is following suit. Some people buy just enough home to accommodate their families. Outside of that, they may not desire more space. So, when COVID-19 forced the world to shelter in place, many of us were unprepared to do so. We jimmy rigged ironing boards into makeshift standing desks. Many of us don’t have a spare bedroom for private work areas or endless Zoom or Teams calls.
  2. Did the Second Hand Move Backward? Do you know what day it is? What time did you start working? How many times did neighbor Fred walk his dog by your house this week? If you’re anything like me, I want a change of scenery from my home. Prior to COVID-19, coworking spaces were taking off because people want to work in environments that nurture creativity and collaboration. With 100% WFH, the world seems to stop spinning. Even Aristotle understood the importance of work structure: “Time is the measure of change.”
  3. I Miss the Bean Bags. Many newer workplaces were designed for productivity. Companies created activity-based workspaces that cater to how employees of all shapes and sizes work their best. WFH hinders spontaneous, active brainstorming or collaboration. Try doing a white boarding session over video conferencing—easier said than done.
  4. My Monitor is Smoking. Home office equipment wasn’t meant for the day-to-day grind of a busy workplace. How many of us have lightning-fast laser printers for those long contracts you just can’t read on a computer screen? Not me. And let’s not forget business vs. personal internet connections. How many times did your lousy connection speed end a meeting in the middle of an important discussion? people dropped off a meeting because of your internet? (Hand raise!)
  5. Remember the Titans! Whether we want to admit it or not, some employees perform better in the office with a coach guiding them to success.
  6. Death By Meeting. More than 100% of my working day is spent in meetings. You read that right. I have to work longer to fit in more meetings. Prior to 100% WFH, I spent about two-thirds of my working day in meetings. Those five-minute discussions that quickly solved an issue are now full-fledged meetings. I sometimes feel like Doctor Who—jumping from one meeting to the next. WFH requires more communication because we feel obligated to spend time with our teams and colleagues because we don’t see them every day in the office.
  7. We ARE Family! Let’s face it, I think we all miss socializing personally and professionally. COVID-19 and working remotely has completely killed that. I miss my colleagues at work and hearing about their weekends or a funny joke. When SpaceIQ was acquired, it was difficult to feel a sense of solidarity amongst the team because we weren’t in one place together and connected. Now, try to virtually build working relationships with new bosses and coworkers. You need to plan time into your meetings for pleasantry and small talk—more so now than when you were together in the office.
  8. Can You Hear Me Now? Communication was tough enough when people were in the office, in the same room. Now, we “talk” via Zoom and Teams, voice calls, or through email. It takes many more written words to clearly communicate than it does to have a simple, in-person conversation.
  9. Kickstart My Brain. There are certain personalities that feed off other people’s energy to jumpstart their creativity. Who hasn’t relished in sitting down with your team and brainstorming the next great offering? Yes, we communicate more in our 100% WFH world, but there’s a lot to be said for congregating in front of white board and free-flowing ideas to solve the latest problem. In-person creativity sessions demand our full attention. Admit it, you multitask on video calls.
  10. Mmmm…Doughnuts! OK, this isn’t true for all companies, but I work in tech. It’s common to have snacks and, on occasion, some meals provided at no cost. They call that a perk! I chose to work for you not just because I liked the job, the company, and the pay, but because you have provided me a place to work where I feel I can be productive and get fed. Sounds weird, but when you’re pulling 10-hour, stressful days getting a product release out on deadline, those Hot Pockets and chocolate-covered almonds may be all there is for dinner.

To WFH or Not to WFH…

Remote working is not going anywhere. There will always be a desire to work from different locations. However, the whole 100% WFH situation doesn’t sound appealing…and probably by a lot more people than you’d think. My guess is that if polled, employees would like the option to work from home but also to come into the office when needed.

Give me the choice and I’ll opt for a mix of WFH and time in the workplace. And that’s the key: provide employees with a choice. Work from home forever isn’t for everyone. Maybe we can dub it WFHWIRFM…work from home when it’s right for me.

Keep reading: 8 Apps for Remote Workers Productivity and Success