Workplace Thought Leadership

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

By Ian Morley
Chief Product Officer

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?

Workplace Thought Leadership

The Next Normal in a Post-Pandemic Workspace

By Nai Kanell
Vice President of Marketing

Whether your office has already partially returned to work or you’re planning a workplace reentry, one thing is certain—things may never be the same. Safe facility management during an unprecedented pandemic requires a high level of planning and precaution. The measures you implement should increase employee productivity, promote workplace trust, and most importantly, keep employees and customers safe.

Rule and Regulation Compliance

It’s not always easy to keep up with new regulations, especially with constantly changing guidelines. Regardless, the first priority is employee safety. In most nations, employers are encouraged to provide a safe working environment. Physical safety should be a constant for all employees, but some may tolerate risk better than others. It’s wise to consider your most vulnerable employees when creating a return-to-work plan, but determine strategies with everyone in mind.

Second, keep employees informed of changes and guidelines. Assign staff to monitor local conditions and guidelines, then share updates on a consistent schedule. Keep a global perspective and adjust plans as needed to comply with local requirements.

Third, align business priorities with global realities. Inspect your building for potential hazards and determine remediation costs. Be willing to remodel, reconfigure, or rearrange everything including work schedules, walls, and seating arrangements.

Masking, Sanitation, and Social Distancing

Most official guidelines center on three principles—masking, sanitation, and social distancing. Depending on your industry, some guidelines may present more of a challenge than others. Restrictions will change as the coronavirus threat diminishes or increases, so keep long-term needs in mind when investing in safety equipment.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements can vary depending on role. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to PPE. Some employees may not be able to wear masks. Others may need to avoid the workplace altogether, such as employees with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

Employees want clean workplaces, even more so now under COVID-19. Make sanitation a priority by setting up hygiene stations with hand sanitizer, soap, gloves, and disinfecting wipes. The typical weekly office cleanings may not be enough. Consider hiring extra cleaning staff to more frequently clean bathrooms, break areas, and shared spaces like conference rooms and lounges.

PPE isn’t limited to individual employees. Plexiglass shields provide an additional layer of protection around pinch points where social distancing may be a challenge, such as reception areas, entrances and exits, and payment areas. Posted policies and directional signage are great visual reminders for customers and employees to abide by your workplace precautions.

Other measures such as UV lights and thermal scanners are options for combatting COVID-19, but should be part of an overall workplace health and safety strategy. It’s wise to check with locally, regionally, and country-specific requirements to determine what’s feasible for your team to manage.

Technology and Real Estate Optimization

For most workplaces, safety decisions center around official guidelines. Maintaining six feet of distance helps protect people from breathing in infected air particles. However, this is easier said than done for many businesses.

Social distance guidelines vary by country and region. In the U.S., 6 feet is the standard; the World Health Organization recommends 1 meter. Social distancing may reduce workplace capacity, depending on your current seating configuration, plan density, desk sharing, and other factors. The potential for space loss raises some interesting options:

  • Should some individuals work remotely forever? Can we stagger work schedules? Do we need to let some staff go?
  • Should we purchase or rent additional office space or retrofit the space we have? Should we consider moving? Should we renegotiate the terms of our lease?
  • How can we prepare our workplace for future emergencies?

During the pandemic, many business leaders are leveraging real estate planning software to visualize coronavirus-related changes to seating arrangements, staff schedules, and office remodeling before committing time and money to wholesale changes. For example, hoteling software helps maximize seating efficiency using dynamic data such as HR information and floor maps.

Business owners can require that employees reserve a hotel desk prior to coming to work and show the reservation before they’re allowed to enter. After someone uses the hotel desk, facility management can be notified that the area must be cleaned and sanitized before another reservation can be made.

The Next Normal is Now

Reopening your workplace can be difficult. Regulations are constantly changing and there’s no saying when COVID-19 will ease. The post-pandemic “next normal” requires flexibility and adaptability. Desks, rooms, and entire floors may not function the same way. Previous policies for remote work, sick leave, and work schedules may need to be reevaluated in the new work environment.

You can’t foresee every situation, but you can be flexible in establishing your new normal. Employees will appreciate your efforts as they return to their former—though newly arranged—workspaces.

Learn how SpaceIQ can help you effectively manage your workplace reentry.

Keep Reading: COVID-19 Workplace Resources

Workplace Thought Leadership

Dimensions of Productivity and Facility Management

By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager

Facility Management (FM) is a multi-departmental business evidence-based management discipline and software productivity that focuses on efficiency efforts and long-term success in areas like real estate, operational finances, human resources, maintenance and information technology (IT). Generally speaking, anything having to do with a facility manager, business’ facility or space and physical assets is part of facilities management and productivity growth, and it’s easy to see why.

When it comes to productivity, having all these elements in order is an essential recipe for success. A business can’t run properly when its facilities and physical assets aren’t in working order. However, beyond that, a well-run FM program can be a key factor in facilitating productivity for individual employees on a day-to-day basis in the workplace.

A facilities management professional should be in charge of these operations to ensure improved productivity within the company by using the information from maintenance and daily operations reports to determine the best solution for any problems that may arise that can ultimately negatively affect productivity within the workplace.

Basic Productivity Considerations in Facility Management

From broken computers to burst pipes, there are plenty of facility-related issues, errors and accidents that can bring productivity to a grinding halt for any number of employees in an office. When there isn’t a proper reporting system or chain of command for dealing with facilities-related issues, productivity is derailed not only for the employees directly affected by the issues but also for many of their colleagues, subordinates, counterparts and managers. Even simple problems like a broken desk chair that won’t be replaced for two weeks due to bureaucratic slowdowns can have a ripple effect throughout the office.

But when businesses pay proper attention to FM, they make it easier to move past these inevitable breakdowns in functionality and get productivity back on track as soon as possible. An office space that functions properly in a structural sense is better placed to function properly in a work outcome capacity as well. While this is a not insignificant benefit to incorporating FM techniques or even creating an FM department, it’s not the only way good facility, space and physical asset management can make efficient operations more common. Solving problems efficiently when they arise and giving employees a way to report these problems is a good first step, but it’s not the only way to make productivity a major focus of FM efforts.

Dimensions of Digitalization of Facilities Management

There are four different dimensions concerning the digitalization of facilities management. Technology has fast become a vital element of business, and increased digitalization may pose new challenges for facility management.

End-to-End digital facility management services allow the customers or employees to interact with the business on a digital level and it is a safe and secure way to aid in improving employee management. Digitalizing the facilities management aspects of the business can provide updates that can be accessed in whatever location they are needed, at whatever time they are needed. For example, if there is an emergency maintenance issue that arises, the facility manager will receive this information quickly and be able to provide the business with updated resources to ensure that processes are maintained and functioning while being able to go from facility to facility to take care of any other potential issues as well.

Digitalization means an increase in productivity and tracking and assigning maintenance requests are easier to do and can be tracked in real time. It offers the maintenance management team the ability to prioritize maintenance issues based on their priority status so that the management team can accomplish what needs to be done right away while being able to track other issues as they come. The real-time data that digitalization allows can also help foster collaboration from other team members across all departments so that work orders are assigned and tackled efficiently and easily without having to disrupt any other processes.

Workplace productivity and retention will also see vast improvements because the facilities management, IT, and HR departments can all become integrated with the digital system in order to maximize each department’s potential.

Energy and sustainability can be translated into reduced costs and improved savings which will show an immediate return on the investment. Finally, compliance management in regards to the FM can be effectively monitored including the preventative maintenance aspects of the company as well as strategic management, completion schedules and predicted costs of each job.

Digitalization does, however, include a small investment but the potential is there, and the ROI can increase productivity and find cost reductions which will take functionality to a new and improved level of strategic management.

Competencies of Facility Management

There are several core competencies concerning facility management. Some of these core competencies include communication, finance and business, human factors, leadership and strategy, operations and maintenance, quality, technology and property management.

Communication is one of the most important aspects of any type of management position. Effective communication can help increase the company’s effectiveness and timing as well as the understanding of the processes that are involved concerning facilities management. Messages within a business need to be clear and concise and easy to understand. To achieve effective communication when sending out messages, be sure that the message is broken up into smaller sections and the purpose of the message is clearly defined.

Operations and maintenance are also critical elements of a successful facilities management system. In addition to the normal maintenance and procedures, the facilities manager will also be responsible for effectively allocating space, ensuring compliance with government regulations, and developing a continuity plan so that the business can quickly recover after an incident or problem.

Facilities management ensures that the business remains in operating order, the employees are safe, productivity is increased, and the workplace remains a friendly and inviting environment for both employees and clients.

Facility management software and other computer aided project management solutions are often employed as a way to help keep track of goals and helps everything run smoothly while being more manageable. Facility management software is a web-based solution to help reduce the costs of maintaining the facility, improve the flow of information throughout the departments, and boost operational efficiencies.

How Facility Management Relates to Human Resources

The people who work in an organization’s facilities are also part of FM, which means that human resources (HR) concerns and FM concerns often overlap. As a matter of fact, HR professionals working for businesses with significant FM programs may find themselves working with the facilities department’s employees and tools more often than you might assume. While FM doesn’t necessarily deal with HR functions like dispute resolution, legal compliance or payroll concerns, it can relate to things like employee satisfaction and recruitment. Think of it this way: If you showed up for a job interview and the receptionist couldn’t tell you whether your interviewer was in the office and where your interview was to be held, you wouldn’t be very impressed with the business, would you? Similarly, no candidate wants to feel a sense of chaos when they walk into a prospective employer’s office. FM can absolutely help to keep these parts of the recruiting process under control.

Beyond recruiting, the synergy of FM and HR functions can mean smoother day-to-day operations for employees in all departments and leadership levels. Considerations like desk assignments and even seemingly minor things like deciding who gets to use which conference room when might not have a huge impact on the grand scheme of business operations. However, on a micro scale, these matters can make a dramatic difference in the way individual employees experience life in the workplace, which, in turn, has an effect on how well they work and how much they produce.

Without the dual function of FM and HR in concert, these details can slip through the cracks as leadership in each individual department assumes that someone else in the organization is taking care of it. This kind of buck-passing is always detrimental to productivity, even when the focus of the task is something that seems like a relatively minor point of concern.

What FM Technology Means for HR Professionals

The old-school solution of using spreadsheets and other static tools for FM tasks is gone, and useful Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM) programs like SpaceIQ’s workplace management software have taken their place, providing FM professionals and their colleagues in departments like HR the ability to use simple, user-friendly technology to quickly and efficiently carry out various facility-related tasks. This in—and of—itself is a major productivity breakthrough; downloading a PDF of data aggregated by a software program is a lot simpler than hand-copying selected results tracked down one by one in an analog ledger.

FM technology allows HR professionals to quickly take care of simpler job tasks like desk provisioning, leaving more room in the schedule to take care of other FM-related tasks such as employee satisfaction analysis. Efficiency is always good for productivity and on the HR side of FM, tech tools are key to facilitating quick completion of routine tasks. But that employee satisfaction analysis your HR team is performing with data collected by FM tools does more than just make HR’s jobs run more smoothly. It can also increase overall job performance across the board on your team.

Exploring the Ways FM Can Increase Employee Comfort and Motivation

Why is an a facilities management system a productivity savior? It’s all about data, reporting, analysis, and action. The right tools will make it easy for HR and other management staff to take a look at the conditions of their office environment, which itself has a significant impact on how workers feel in their workplace. That may sound too “touchy-feely” from an old-school business management perspective, but all evidence points to the fact that happy employees are well worth the investment.

It’s a sensible approach, and while it’s borne out by data, it’s easy to see how employee comfort in the workplace can actually have a lot to do with how well workers are able to do their jobs. Spending each day in the office bundled up and shivering isn’t exactly going to help an employee feel excited about showing up to work each day and the fact of the matter is that the pain of being cold is distracting. It makes good sense, then, to find a temperature that works for your office but the challenge there is that each employee tends to have their own ideal operating temperature.

Sensor integration can actually be a great way to address this issue from an FM strategy point of view. While, in theory, employees can just adjust the temperature in a conference room when they walk in, they’ll have to remember to adjust it back down or up when they walk out of the room again in order to leave it in a better place for the next employee. Smart sensors installed in conference rooms and unassigned office space can recognize an individual employee and draw from an FM profile detailing their preferences to make immediate adjustments as soon as they enter or check themselves into a room. Tools like this make FM an essential element in the quest to make employees feel comfortable and satisfied at work so they’ll repay your considerate treatment with the best work they can possibly do.

The tools you select for this task are important, though. SpaceIQ has powerful analytical and reporting tools that allow for one-click PDF generation. That in and of itself is a productivity win, but it’s what’s contained within those rapidly generated documents that are really important for long-term performance gains across the board. If you’re experimenting with different office arrangements and workspace sharing approaches, using SpaceIQ throughout the process can give you the ability to track precise locations and conditions to measure against quarterly financial reports and other productivity data. The guesswork era is over in FM and HR. Now you can have cold, hard data to back up your decision making, allowing you to choose an objective best scenario for employee productivity.

Productivity-Focused Tools

A good Facility Management solution makes optimal productivity an easily achieved goal through the use of specific tools and functions for an entire enterprise to make use of. Ultimately, this means that the program provides relevancy across all tiers of an organization’s leadership structure. Even entry-level employees can get plugged into the system and use it on a daily basis to make logistical and collaborative parts of their job easier, resulting in more time spent doing and less time spent taking care of administrative mundanities.

Space Utilization Visualization

The space utilization visualization components of a program lays out the floor plan of your office to scale, including desks and even seat markers designating where employees are currently sitting. It also shows you where there are empty seats in the office at any given time. This record of unassigned desks is useful for management, who can determine whether they’re wasting money on overhead costs relating to space and physical asset management based on the ratio of unassigned desks to the workforce in the office at a given time. Having a high-level view of this tracked in the system—again, not requiring independent tracking effort from an employee—allows management to perform quick, productive analysis and take this information to higher-ups for decision-making that’s backed by data and illustrative examples. This also allows for on-demand provisioning of reserved desks and workstations in agile workspaces that take an open, modern approach to seat assignments.

Systems Integrations

Having to click around between multiple different browser tabs or application client windows takes time out of everyone’s day. These seconds add up to minutes and hours over time. As more and more useful systems get plugged into facility management programs, employee attention will be much less scattered, which is always best for productivity. Even the most dedicated, efficient workers find that splintering their focus can have a negative impact on how much actual work they get done in a day. Fewer programs mean fewer distractions and more beneficial work output in the long run.

Employee Profiles

As an organization grows, it becomes increasingly cumbersome to keep track of individual employees in both a general and literal sense. Employee profiles inside a Facility Management program allow everyone with access to the program to do both. You’ll be able to onboard your new employees more quickly, which is something HR will certainly appreciate and, after the initial onboarding into the system is complete, you’ll be able to see what workstation an employee is currently occupying or where they are in the office. This can be helpful not only for those times when one team member is trying to track down another in an expansive workplace but can also give you a better idea of where an employee does his or her best work.

For example, if you happen to notice that a team member seems to have her best ideas when she’s in the lounge area of your office, you may want to see whether working from home a few days a week allows her to reach peak productivity. This kind of optimization is only possible when you have the kind of on-demand reporting and observational tools that a CAFM program has to offer.

Fostering Productivity with Tech

Tech developments are usually heralded as the best new solution for productivity but, as we all know, a program has to actually work as intended to really make a difference in how easy it is to complete a given task.  A good CAFM solution takes a multifaceted approach to the very concept of productivity.

Learn more on what is CAFM?

To improve productivity, technology should increase workplace productivity, rather than distract people. The technology should provide the users with ease and flexibility that can also adapt the changing needs of the business. Technology applies to the overall infrastructure of the business down to the applications that are used as well as the phone systems.

The best technology is the technology that does not take a lot of time to set up and learn. It should also not require a lot of additional time to maintain. While it may work, the facilities management professional should analyze the available tech to determine if it is increasing productivity and providing the employees with a more comfortable and suitable working environment.

What is the International Facility Management Association?

The International Facility Management Association, otherwise known as IFMA, was founded in 1980 and is one of the most recognized associations for facility management professionals in the world, boasting over 24,000 members in over 104 countries worldwide.

The International Facility Management Association offers development through different credentialing programs and conducts research to strengthen the skills of facility management. They also produce industry-leading magazines and newsletters.

Facilities management is important for productivity, and the IMFA has come up with eleven core competencies concerning facilities management.

Communication, Quality, and Technology

Through communication efforts, the facilities management professional team can develop plans of communications to effectively deliver the proper messages and recommendations to the workers, the public, senior management and even the customers. The facility manager will also develop and oversee the application of standards for the business and review performance records including benchmarking, KPI’s, service response times and other measurable events. This information can help devise a plan of strategy to further improve productivity and also measure the quality of the services that are given.

The facilities manager also has the responsibility of auditing and documenting compliance codes, regulations, and other policies and standards to ensure everything is being followed.

When workers in an organization feel that they are working in a positive environment with open communication standards, then you will see improved performance and increased productivity. There are many factors to consider regarding a facilities management system. Not only should the maintenance issues be addressed and the easy measurements of the input and output of energy, rent, and wages, a facilities manager should also consider disruptive workplace factors that could increase the negative input and dampen productivity.

Productivity Blockers

Several factors can cause loss of productivity. The loss of productivity can ultimately lead to lost time and resources. Many of these issues can be rectified with the employment of a designated facility manager that is trained in reducing wasted productivity.

Sometimes it is required to review the amount of equipment and machines you have in the facility as well as their placement. The number of printers, fax machines, and copiers you have and where they are located, for example, can play a leading role in limiting productivity within the facility. Are there enough printers to handle the increased traffic the facility may be experiencing? How far do the employees have to go to get to these machines?

The design and space allocation of the facility is a vital element of workplace productivity. It is best to ensure that all services and machines the employers utilize are within a good distance of the relative working area. An efficient layout will fix operational adjacencies and will ultimately maximize workplace productivity.

Examine the amount of workplace accidents that exist. The facility manager can determine if any additional safety training is needed to avoid losing productive workplace hours.

Communication and an employee’s self-worth and value are also critical elements of workplace productivity. The facility manager ensures that proper communication is available so that the employees can effectively communicate with each other. Social interaction is also appreciated within the workplace environment and is essential for valued relationships among the employees and the customers alike. Facilities management can examine the meeting and conference rooms for functionality and effectiveness and consider an updated design if needed to promote a more open and inviting environment with improved telecommunication processes as well.

The facility manager should have the skill sets, knowledge and abilities that are required to effectively perform and ensure that operations and maintenance run smoothly and efficiently. Planning and scheduling are daily tasks a facilities manager is presented with to support the facilities operations.

Having a cloud-based facilities management program at the root of business operations will also ensure that you are equipped to evolve with the times and also thrive in an agile, unpredictable environment.

Daily Operations and Soft FM

According to the IFMA, Facility management is the practice of coordinating the physical workplace with the people that are employed there and the overall work of the organization. Principles of business are being integrated with factors such as administration, architecture, and behavioral and engineering sciences.

Soft facilities management is another aspect of FM that is essential to the success of the business. Soft facility management services are those services, or elective, that are geared more towards the people that work for the company. Soft services include electives such as window cleaning, general cleaning services, security, mail management, waste management and even catering. These services ensure a comfortable and secure environment for the employees, which can, in turn, lead to improved productivity.

Facility management professionals can conduct a Facilities Needs Assessment to help them determine which of the above services are needed and which may be unnecessary. To complete the assessment, the facilities manager will consider if the needs are sufficient or efficient and if the facility needs maintenance or duplicate services can be eliminated. Security and sustainability are also objectives and require organization and the delivery of the services by the facilities manager to make the workplace safer, more efficient, and compliant.

Hard FM services are those services that are a physical part of the facility and cannot be removed such as heating, lighting, plumbing, fire safety systems, air conditioning, and building maintenance. These services are required and are typically required by law to be available in the workplace.

Under the Workplace Regulations 1992 for health, safety, and welfare these are regulations that the facilities manager must always consider and ensure are properly maintained and remain in working order.

These daily operations and maintenance services are performed and overseen by the facility management professional, and they may also handle the responsibility of the maintenance staff, payroll, of the maintenance staff, and the budget available for these services.

Overall, facility management is important for workplace productivity because it is an easy and efficient way of managing and tracking all the vital information concerning how the business is operated and maintained. Without these services and the lead of a facilities manager, then the business can experience increased downtime due to maintenance issues, lower employee morale, and decreased productivity which can result in the loss of revenue and the additional costs of maintenance due to the operations and systems that were not being managed and examined.

Facility management software helps the company reduce space and maintenance costs while increasing the efficient use of their other assets, as well as increases productivity. Computer aided facility management is an effective solution that allows a facility manager to plan, execute, and monitor all activities. These activities include planned preventative maintenance involving the services, space and move management, asset management, standard services, and even long-term planning needs concerning these services and the budgets required to align with the needs of the business.

Computer aided facilities management can also reduce the amount of inaccuracies that are reported and can help provide the most up to date information that is available. All of these factors can lead to reduced costs and greater efficiency in the workplace as well as improved customer service.

Once you’ve taken the time to understand the various facility management software advantages outlined here, it’s time to learn how to select the right facilities management software system that will benefit you, your staff and your business.


Is Your COVID-19 Office Cleaning Plan Enough?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

Cleanliness and hygiene are on everyone’s mind as coronavirus concerns persist in national headlines. Even though local economies have begun to open up, people are still concerned about exposure and infection. This is especially true in the workplace. It’s impossible for employees to feel comfortable and productive if they’re constantly concerned about an unseen virus lurking around them. Employers need to step up their COVID-19 office cleaning plan to quell fears and create confidence in their workforce.

Many workplaces implemented special cleaning protocols during the height of COVID-19 or before employees returned to work. This isn’t enough. The workplace needs cleanings in increased frequency and intensity, specific to concerns about COVID-19. Take a hard look at your current facility cleaning practices and measure them against coronavirus concerns.

How long can coronavirus live on surfaces?

COVID-19 is commonly transmitted via airborne droplet particles—coughs and sneezes. But the virus is resilient and can live on surfaces for varying lengths of time. For example, one study found that it can survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic surfaces. When you consider lingering surface particles, facility disinfection protocols become paramount.

Consider the types of common surfaces in your facilities and the potential for coronavirus to linger on them. At a minimum, clean these surfaces regularly with disinfectant. Encourage employees to wipe them down when they’re done using the space, as well.

What kills coronavirus?

The severity of COVID-19 as an infection is scary. Thankfully, the eradication of surface remnants of the virus isn’t any more difficult than addressing most general germs. Most office cleaning and disinfecting products will do the trick—including cleaning wipes that contain more than 70% alcohol content.

Cleaning wipes aren’t a practical use beyond spot cleaning for common surfaces. To kill COVID-19 broadly over large areas requires comprehensive cleaning or use of methods like electrostatic fogging. Fogging is ironically similar to how coronavirus spreads—a cleaning technician mists the area with an antimicrobial spray that’s electrostatically charged to kill viruses and bacteria on contact.

Finally, there’s always good old soap and water. In a pinch, most hand soaps and dish soaps will kill the virus. This isn’t generally applicable in a workplace, but it works in break rooms and bathrooms.

Increase your janitorial services

Workplace readiness for preventing the spread of COVID-19 can be as simple as stepping up what you’re already doing. If you have a janitorial service that comes once per week, for example, consider scheduling bi-weekly cleanings to keep on top of a sanitary environment.

Additionally, this is also a good time to investigate deep cleaning opportunities or new cleaning methods, like electrostatic fogging. How you clean matters as much (or more) than what you clean. The occasional deep clean or fogging will make the workplace feel brand-new and give employees a real sense of confidence in your efforts to provide a clean, sanitary workplace.

Make employees responsible for their space

Every office cleaning plan needs a focus on employee accountability. While it’s your duty as an employee to provide a clean, safe, comfortable workplace, it’s the duty of employees to keep it that way. It’s far from unreasonable to ask employees to throw away garbage and clean up after they’re done with a space. It’s also important to encourage good hygiene and sanitary practices in personal and shared spaces.

If you want employees to care for the workplace, make it easy. Place garbage and recycling bins in common and accessible areas. Leave sanitary wipes and disinfectant out and easy to grab. Post signage to remind people to be courteous about how they leave their space. Make it easy to request more paper towel or file a maintenance request to fix the soap dispenser. All these small, insignificant actions give employees the incentive and the means to clean the office as they use it.

Evaluate your standards for a clean workplace

The cleanliness of your workplace plays a tremendous role in how employees adapt post-COVID-19. If they feel comfortable in surroundings that feel clean, they’ll face fewer obstacles as they ease back into work. They’ll do better work and feel good about your organization’s emphasis on cleanliness. There are even culture implications—employees feel prouder and more connected to a workplace that’s well-kept and maintained to a superior standard.

Evaluate your current workplace cleaning and maintenance standards and make sure they address coronavirus-specific concerns. Adapt to ease employee worries—whether it’s more frequent cleanings, specific disinfection practices, or new policies to promote workplace cleanliness.

Keep reading: Coronavirus Workplace Resources


Facility Management KPI Examples

By Reagan Nickl
Director of Professional Services

Did we meet our monthly sales goal last month? Is our current ad campaign generating expected engagement? How long do customers spend on hold before we pick up and answer their questions? We track and measure success and failure in the workplace through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs help develop real goals and meaningful steps to achieve them, and they’re essential in every segment of the business.

Below, we’ll dive into some facility management KPI examples that identify opportunities for workplace success. But first, let’s take a closer look at KPIs themselves and why they’re so integral.

What are KPIs and why track them?

KPIs are like a roadmap that tells us if we’re on track or off-course, or if our goals are even feasible. They’re an important metric across every business unit, from sales, to marketing, to facilities management. KPIs show how short Sales is from their monthly revenue goal. They set the precedent for how many media impressions Marketing will get from its newest ad campaign. KPIs even apply at a personal level, and can show Max how far ahead he is on a specific project.

KPIs focus on the most important aspects of business for a particular group or individual. You’re not going to track sales revenue for your Marketing team because they’re not the ones selling, just like you wouldn’t track average wait time for your Sales department—that’s a Customer Service metric. Identify and track KPIs that are relevant to each business unit to understand how well that business unit is performing.

Usually, departmental KPIs are narrow—focused on explicit goals set for that team. Facility management KPIs are a bit broader and span both people and the building itself, but they’re nonetheless important to track. Here are some sample KPIs for facilities managers that touch both realms.

People-focused KPIs

Facility manager primary KPIs focus on how people interact with the workplace. The primary goal of the workplace is to support the workforce, so it only makes sense! People-focused KPIs look at space occupancy and availability, how happy and/or satisfied employees are, and workforce allocation. Some of the most important KPIs to track include:

  • Space occupancy rates
  • Desk availability
  • NET Promoter Score
  • Workforce distribution

Uptrends on these KPIs indicate that the workplace is functioning as it should. People are happy, they have the right workspaces available to them, and they’re doing work in a productive way. KPIs trending down in this area indicate the workplace doesn’t meet the needs of the people in it. They’re not able to work efficiently or productively, and they’re dissatisfied with the workplace—or worse, the company itself.

Building-focused KPIs

On the flip side of facility management KPIs are building-facing metrics. These KPIs look specifically at the building as an investment. Is it generating positive returns? How does the building serve the needs of the business as an asset? These KPIs track costs, building performance, and maintenance of the investment. Some of the most common include:

  • Work order fulfillment times
  • HVAC and energy costs
  • Total facilities costs
  • Equipment downtime

Facility managers need to track these metrics with intent to continuously improve them. Ask yourself, how does the business benefit from a reduction in equipment downtime? Where can you reallocate bottom-line savings to generate better ROI for the top line? Building-focused KPIs tell facility managers what they need to know about the performance of the building as a physical investment.

Use KPIs to set actionable goals

Facility management KPIs represent the aspects of the job that matter most—those with the biggest impact on the workplace and the people in it. It’s not enough to just measure them; you also need to improve upon them. For example:

Right now, 23% of employees are remote. We want to increase this to 45% over the next 12 months, while accounting for new job growth in that time. 

Over the last six months the average response time for routine building repairs and maintenance was three days. We want this to be two or fewer days in Q3 and beyond.

KPIs don’t force a solution—they connect the dots between data and strategy, providing one to facilitate the other. You might buy coworking memberships for the employees you intend to transition to remote work, or staff another person to the maintenance department to expedite work order fulfillment. It’s not how you improve your KPIs, so much as that you continue to hold yourself to them.

The more you know, the more you grow

KPIs are a drilled-down way to look at fundamental aspects of business—the ones important to its success. Tracking facility management KPIs is the simplest way to hold the workplace to its highest standards, to facilitate success within it. There are infinite ways to reach your goals and meet your metrics, and what matters is that you hold yourself to these standards.

KPIs will tell you when you fall short of the ideal and where there’s room for improvement. Pay attention to them!

Keep Reading: How to Select FM Software


Facility Management Glossary

Make Every Space Count with Space Management Software

What is space management? And why is it important? Space management and utilization is a concept that should be on every organizational leader’s mind. With rent and real estate prices skyrocketing in desirable cities, there’s never been a better time to figure out whether you’re using all the square footage you’re paying for to the best of its abilities. Even if you don’t operate in an expensive region, unused office space represents a massive point of waste that can easily be resolved when you use facility management software. Learn more about common areas of underutilization in office spaces and see what a smart Workplace Management platform like SpaceIQ can do for you as you work to make better use of the space you have.

Is Space Management What’s Missing from Your Office?

Empty space is a waste. There may be some circumstances in which the waste is temporary as the available space will be put to use within a defined period of time. But if you have some dead spaces in your office and no plans to add more employees or equipment in the near future, you’re essentially throwing money away every day those spaces go unused.

Some unused offices and spaces are obviously underutilized. Whether it’s an empty private office or a conference room that gets used maybe once or twice a year (and never to its full capacity), these spaces may as well not exist. But they do exist, and you’re paying for them. Identifying these points of underutilization isn’t as much of an issue. The real problem comes from more subtle unused areas. Desks that are occupied only on occasion, conference rooms with motion-detecting lights that seem to have people inside because the lights are always on, reception areas with cozy couches and stacks of magazines that seem vital in theory—these are all spaces that can be deceptively wasteful.

That makes facility management software and facility scheduling software vital to the efficient use of available office space. Subtleties that go unseen are easily detected, recorded and analyzed. You may be surprised by what you find, particularly in these four areas of frequent underutilization.

Private Offices

Getting one’s own office used to be a major hallmark of success at work, but moving up the corporate ladder has different signifiers now than it used to. There may be a few people in an organization who truly need a private office and, in most other cases, the office is a signifier of status. Perhaps that’s why these offices can be so hard to fill. Office equipment manufacturer Herman Miller released a study that revealed private offices remain unoccupied a whopping 77% of the time. What is the use of paying for that square footage if it’s only going to sit empty?

There are so many different reasons why this might be so. The people who are typically considered important enough to merit a private office are usually so high up that they do more than just sit at a desk performing routine tasks. From traveling to conferences to taking advantage of seniority and deciding to work from home or otherwise keeping limited hours in the office, it pays to use space management software to determine who truly uses their private office and who can be satisfied by a desk out on the floor with everyone else. Managers who are particularly engaged with their teams may actually enjoy the change. Herman Miller’s study shows that people actually tend to like working in environments that are more social, having the flexibility to move around. Doing away with private offices for some folks could be a way of introducing mobility to their work lives and allowing for easier collaboration.

Just like disk space management tools that maximize disk space, space management software, also known as facility scheduling software, can ensure space optimization by helping you identify which private offices tend to stay empty the most. The Herman Miller study further indicated that conference room space is rarely used to its full capacity and that smaller collaboration rooms tend to be more popular than large rooms. You could try a strategy of converting some private offices into a meeting or collaborative spaces and using SpaceIQ to track the level of engagement these converted rooms see. If those rooms still remain empty, you may want to consider renting out private offices to solo practitioners or offering those spaces as limited-use private workspaces for employees who need a quiet place to work as they finish an important project. No matter how you try to make use of these private office spaces, A Workplace Management Platform like SpaceIQ will make it easy to determine whether your space utilization solution is actually working out.


Individual workstations may be more widely available to a larger percentage of the entire organization, but the fact that these work areas aren’t limited to a select few doesn’t mean their utilization rate tends to be high. In fact, Herman Miller’s study indicates that workstations are occupied only 60% of the time, which is only a 17% improvement on private offices. That makes these spaces well worth watching and analyzing.

If you tend to see a lot of scattering with workstations that are partially occupied, engage with your teams and find out why this is. It could be that there simply aren’t enough team members in a given department to fill out that group’s designated bank of workstations. When this is the case, consolidating existing teams and perhaps reconfiguring the layout of your workstation areas can be helpful in converting those unused workstations into open desks that can be rented out to small companies or startups. You can also take your open desks as a sign that it’s time to reconsider your approach to staffing. With all that space available, why not expand? Ask department heads if they feel they could use some more help. In some cases, underutilization is actually an indication of understaffing. If filling those seats can help defray the cost of the wasted rent you’ve been paying for that space, all the better.

It also pays to take a look at how your employees tend to treat their time in the office. If your organization is one that allows work flexibility for some or all employees, assigned seating may not make sense. Keeping a dedicated desk for a developer who lives two hours away from the office and only comes in for a few hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays doesn’t make much sense. Instead, you can analyze who’s in the office when and make a determination on whether open seating would be a better idea for your organization. Organizations that only offer flexibility for a limited number of employees can either seat the telecommuters separately from everyone else, providing an open-seating workstation area and assigned seating for everyone else or convert to a 100% open arrangement for everyone regardless of flexibility status. Some departments may prefer to sit together but leave one seat open for various team members who may come in on different days.

No matter how you approach the issue, collecting data on which of the workstations in your office are used the most often and which are lonely and waiting to live up to their potential will give you a much better foundation from which to approach the workstation under-utilization issue than simple human observation alone.

Conference and Meeting Rooms

As mentioned above, large conference room spaces are often less important than we tend to think they are. If you aren’t giving large-scale presentations in that room more than once or twice a year, it may be time to rethink how you use that space. First, though, it’s important to collect some data. You may never see people in those rooms, but it could be that teams gather in your large conference room on a regular basis without drawing notice. 

You’ll also want to see how many people tend to use these spaces on average. Herman Miller’s study indicated that even when they’re used, fewer people than the full capacity tend to occupy meeting and conference rooms. If the number of people meeting in your largest conference room could easily fit into the smallest with room to spare, some reconfiguring may be in order. Perhaps there’s not enough room to add the workstations you need, but if you move the water cooler and coffee maker into the conference room and turn it into more of a lounge space, you’ll still have a smaller conference room of sufficient space to accommodate everyone who tends to use it. Knowing which spaces are used too much and which aren’t used enough—particularly spaces with a large footprints such as a large conference room—gives you the room to get creative with your space management strategy.

The ability to tell which workstations aren’t getting used in an open seating arrangement can also help you address some employee satisfaction or comfort issues. Perhaps there’s a bank of workstations that are just a little bit too close to the bathroom. It could be that the majority of the people in your offices have tried the standing desk thing and found that they’d rather just sit, leaving your standing desk workstations dramatically underutilized. Pairing the data you collect with a Workplace Management Platform with discussions with or surveys of your employees can help you address the reasons behind under utilization and allow you to create a more comfortable and desirable office environment.

Alternatively, you can use this real estate forecasting information as part of your move management approach. You might have an underutilized conference room in your current space, but if you’re planning a move, there’s no need to make any big changes. However, this can inform your approach to the features your new space should have. No need to pay for another giant space that’s not going to get used.

Break and Reception Spaces

Conventional wisdom holds that an office should have a place for employees to eat their lunches and that there should also be a dedicated space for welcoming guests. However, these spaces may not get used very much and, if you have both an underused employee break space and a reception space that sees guests maybe once or twice a month, you can consider doing away with one or both of these spaces. In fact, if you have underutilized reception areas, break rooms and large conference rooms, you can think about turning the large conference room into a dedicated lounge space in which employees can put their feet up for a minute or guests can sit and wait in comfort without feeling like they’re in a fishbowl.

This may not work for the way you do business and that’s fine. The important thing is that you have the ability to use data as part of your approach to a new space utilization strategy.

Consolidating and Reimagining

Underutilization isn’t always as cut and dry as the categories above imply. There can be little areas here and there that simply don’t justify the money you pay for them. In some cases, it may simply be the cost of doing business, but it’s hard to know exactly how much of that space you have and how much available space you could create without a space management software program to give you an informed high-level view of what’s going on in the space.

One thing to also consider is that the use of lounge-style workspaces is an increasingly common element of the modern workplace. These are often multi-purpose spaces with configurable elements such as movable walls and configurable furniture that can support a variety of work postures. Companies can use these spaces for everything from all-hands meetings to industry presentations. When they’re not in use for group events, these lounge areas serve as causal places employees can sit and work together, eat their lunches or get a quick change of environment as they tease out a complex problem. Going for a multi-purpose approach can flip the issue of underutilization on its head. Consolidate the spaces that are currently unused and make room for a large multipurpose space. If you aren’t using it much, consider opening your doors for non-profits relating to your industry to host educational events or recruitment events for kids. That’s a valuable use of the space even if it isn’t directly contributing to your bottom line.

Learn how SpaceIQ can help turn your workplace from a cost center to a competitive advantage.

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