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The Pros and Cons of Hybrid Workplaces

By Devon Maresco
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

In the same way open offices and coworking did before it, the concept of hybrid workplaces has changed how people work. Just like these past revolutionary work concepts, it’s important we take the time to assess the pros and cons of hybrid workplaces. As they gain momentum companies and their employees need to understand the benefits, drawbacks, opportunities, and pitfalls associated with this new form of work.

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A recap of hybrid workspaces

A hybrid workplace consists of both in-house employees and remote workers who work together as a distributed team. The hybrid workspace can take many forms as it pertains to a physical space. For example, many businesses adopted a hoteling model to accommodate an unknown daily capacity of in-house employees. Other companies evolved into more agile work environments that allow in-house workers to more easily adapt different workspaces based on their needs.

The advantages and disadvantages of the hybrid work model come from not only the structure of the workplace itself, but in how remote and on-site employees collaborate. While these solutions can vary across companies, the fundamentals of a hybrid model remain the same. Let’s look at the pros and cons.

The positives powering hybrid work

As you might expect from a new work model that’s quickly defined the professional landscape, there’s a lot to love about hybrid work. The benefits of hybrid work are many, for both employees and employers alike.

For employees, the biggest benefit of hybrid work is flexibility. Whether they work in-house, from home, or split their time between the two, a hybrid workplace supports them. It’s meant to bridge all gaps between different work styles, so a person can accomplish their job regardless of setting. This is especially important for companies scheduling on rolling shifts.

This seamless working experience goes all the way down to the workspace level. Hybrid work demands workspaces as flexible as the concept. Hotel desks, hot desks, breakout spaces, and the like are all essential in a supportive hybrid workplace. More than keeping the concept functional, they further promote employees to work in the fashion that best fits their needs.

From an employer standpoint, hybrid work offers powerful optimization opportunities. For example, ratio desking allows companies to operate with fewer desks than total employees, without depriving people of the space they need. Likewise, a dramatic shift to remote work and force portfolio consolidation, which can free up significant cash flow otherwise tied up in overhead.

These examples add up to some key, specific benefits that make hybrid workplaces a long-term prospect for today’s dynamic workforce:

  • Offers the best of both on-site and off-site accessibility for employees
  • Improves flexibility, agility, and optionality of the workplace
  • More effective use and utilization of spaces and workstations
  • Saved workplace and facility costs through more efficient use of space
  • Improved employee experience, which can influence and improve culture
  • Access to a broader talent pool when hiring or expanding

Negatives to beware of in hybrid workplaces

There are still a few kinks in the hybrid model that companies need to work through. It’s a proven, reliable solution to distributed teams and workforces, but there are some key drawbacks that can cause complications if not accounted for.

The biggest is lack of oversight. With some working remotely and those in-office employees flitting between different areas and workstations, companies give up a traditional sense of control. This is okay, so long as there’s a guiding hand to help employees develop good habits and understand new expectations. Social-emotional competency is vital for management, and good systems for communication are imperative.

Distractions are also something to be aware of. Employees used to the traditional work model of one desk and one task could find themselves both easily distracted and/or unsure of how to stay on-task. Companies can support these individuals with thoughtful workspace design and encourage employees to adapt their habits, rather than abandon them.

Finally, there need to be systems for bridging in-house to remote in all senses of the concept. Employee-to-employee communication. Access to , files, and technologies. The connection needs to be robust. Outside of employee preference, there can’t be any factors that make working in-house or remote any better than the alternative. Companies need to be mindful as they level the playing field, while simultaneously raising it.

Again, these examples add up to some clear-cut pitfalls. The good news is, many of them are avoidable with thoughtful design and management of hybrid workplaces:

  • More difficult to communicate in real-time, especially between distributed teams
  • Access to technology and applications may differ from office to home
  • Employees may find it difficult to adapt or develop new habits
  • Employees may feel alienated if not supported in their choice of work style
  • Hybrid requires more processes of control to allow for freedoms in work

Why the hybrid model is here to stay

Simply put: because the benefits of the hybrid workplace outweigh the potential negatives. That and the fact that, for some employees, there’s no going back to a centralized workplace. Companies might’ve adopted a hybrid work model out of necessity due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s one that’s going to far outlast it as the new way to accommodate everyone unique work styles and preferences.

Keep Reading: Hybrid Workplaces are the Future of Work

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Six Workplace Portal Functions That Are Essential in the Era of Flex Work

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator
SpaceIQ

Called the “workplace intranet” in a past technological era, the concept of a workplace portal has been around as long as workplace computers. Today, many companies still host intranet sites and work portals, and for good reason. They’re highly useful means for bringing together employee resources in a single destination.

Like all things that involve workplace tech, the employee portal has evolved with time. Namely, it’s evolved on the heels of better integrations and business clouds, which have given portals much more than simple hyperlink and static text capabilities. The modern capabilities of a work portal demand businesses take a second look at theirs, to make sure it delivers real utility to employees.

What is a work portal?

A work portal is a hosted repository for information and resources that’s accessible only to employees on the business’ network. It features oft-used resources that might include:

  • Payroll information and time-off request forms
  • Access to the company directory or site map
  • An announcement board for company-wide information
  • Submission forms for IT requests or equipment check-out

Anything employees routinely need access to is best put in a portal. It’s something employees can get familiar with as soon as they start with the company and something they’ll likely interact with every day in some capacity.

Now, as facilities become more complex and flex work entrenches itself as a mode of operation, companies have found new utility from their work portals. Here’s a look at six portal functions that can and should become standard in companies with evolving workplaces.

1. Support ticketing and requests

The more sophisticated workplaces become, the quicker maintenance and repairs need to occur. For example, if the motion sensor for the lights in the lobby stops working, visitors could find themselves greeted by darkness. Getting problems like these fixed needs to be as easy as submitting an urgent ticket to maintenance through the work portal.

Non-urgent requests should be just as simple. Need to take out an AV cart? Want to request an extra recycling bin for your department? The work portal is the place to make these requests a one-minute, no hassle task.

2. Space reservation and seat booking

For companies that explore hoteling and other reservation-based seating arrangements, the work portal is an ideal place to encourage scheduling. While an ideal reservation system will have multiple methods of seat booking (Slack, email, dashboard, etc.), the employee portal should be the most accessible and robust. Employees already in the habit of checking the portal daily will quickly attune themselves to desk booking through this channel. It’s a great way to get employees on board with a reservation system.

3. Real-time updates and announcements

In the era of COVID-19 (and beyond), company-wide announcements are important. Employees deserve to be kept apprised of everything from scheduling changes to new company policies. While memos and email announcements are still standard, scrolling them in a portal or posting them on a company bulletin board is still a great reminder. Moreover, executives can control who sees what message by targeting different departments via their login credentials. With an employee portal, vital announcements are front-and-center every day.

4. Employee directory access

The employee directory has become a critical tool with the rise of remote work and flex work. Without static desks or schedules, employees may have difficulty finding each other at any given time. And while the company directory has long been a part of many employee portals, new integrations have made it more robust and useful.

Companies can tie directory information to wayfinding and the desk booking system, to show employees where someone is at any given time and how to get there. They can also tie in apps like Slack or Calendly, so that clicking on a person gives you their messaging information or access to their calendar. There are limitless integrations, amounting to infinite possibilities for how useful an in-portal employee directory can be.

5. Wayfinding features and integrations

Like the employee directory, a company’s wayfinding system is highly useful as part of the employee portal. As employees use more of the workplace, they need to feel comfortable navigating it. Access to wayfinding tools through a portal they’re already used to using can make them more amiable to using the workplace in new and effective ways. And, as mentioned, wayfinding features are a great tie-in with a newer, more robust employee directory.

6. Facility information

Simple additions to the workplace portal can be some of the best—especially when they concern facilities. Companies are wise to build out a section for facility information that includes information such as cleaning schedules, a common contacts list, asset locations, and anything else important or specific to the workplace. When employees have questions, this should be the first place they look—and the last place they need to look.

The beauty of a work portal is that it’s a single, simple point of action for employees—one that empowers them to interact with the workplace in a meaningful way. With the correct integrations and a little organization, a workplace portal can become something employees use every day, to great benefit.

Keep reading: What is Employee Experience?

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Ratio Seating: Everything You Need to Know to Make it Work

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator
SpaceIQ

“Company X has 150 employees and 100 workspaces: 70 single-occupancy, 15 multi-person, and 15 undesignated spaces. What is the ratio of employees to workspaces on a space-specific level?” No this isn’t a question from the SATs, it’s a peek behind the curtain of ratio seating: one of the emerging methods for allocation and management of desks in a flex work environment. There’s plenty of math involved, but the potential upside for space-conscious companies is worth the pain of scribbling fractions in a notebook.

The good news is that most Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) offer ratio seating tools that automate the math. All that’s left for facility managers to do is make sure their approach is one that is beneficial to both the business and its employees.

What is ratio-based seating?

Ratio-based seating is the product of flex work concepts like hoteling and hot desking. At its core, it’s the practice of organizing and allocating workspaces in such a way as to support fewer total seats than there are employees. Ratio-based seating allows companies to operate at a seating “deficit” through strategic allocation.

For example, a company with a new flex work policy might have 40 total employees—but not all of them will work in-house at the same time. The company doesn’t need 40 desks. Instead, it might operate 20 desks with the expectation that roughly half its workforce will work remote at any given time. That’s space (and cost) saved on a daily basis.

Ratio seating isn’t only about eliminating desks—it’s about running a desk deficit in a way that doesn’t hinder work habits or reduce productivity.

What types of offices benefit from ratio seating?

The shift to flex work and distributed teams has made ratio-based seating much more practical. If companies can predict the percentages of their workforce that will or won’t need a seat on a given day, facility managers can orchestrate several efficient desking concepts:

  • Hotel desks give employees the power to reserve their seating as-needed, on-demand
  • Hot desks enable free-flowing movement in a workplace with diverse desk types
  • Office neighborhoods offer opportunities for collaboration without assigned seats
  • Breakout spaces provide employees an as-needed, quick-use solution to space

Really, any unspecified seating solution becomes a reality in a ratio seating concept. Without assigned seats—and with the freedom to work where and how they want—employees don’t need the surety of a “home base.” That means fewer desks for more people who are always on-the-go.

How to calculate employee-to-seat ratio

There are different schools of thought for calculating the employee-to-seat ratio for the ideal desking deficit.

The best way is to use trend pattern data over time to calculate minimum and maximum occupancy. Monitor the percentage of total desk occupancy for three months, record occupancy levels per day, and put them on a heat map. Eliminate outliers and find the mean. This can offer a starting point to determine how many desks your workplace needs objectively at any given time. Institute a hoteling policy or desk reservation system to account for these spaces, and monitor continued utilization to adjust for real use.

Another concept is to assign employees to groups with values and calculate employee-to-desk ratio using the sum of the values of employees.

  • 1 for full-time in-house employees
  • 5 for those who split time remote/in-house
  • 25 for those who are full-time remote

This type of model accounts for those who need a desk every day, as well as those who may come in or who may get called in for an all-hands situation. It’s often calculated at the department level, since different group work habits vary depending on job type. Marketing might end up with a 10:4 person-to-desk ratio, while Accounting has a 12:10 person-to-desk ratio.

The employee-to-seat ratio is both a numbers game and a balancing act. It’s wise for facility managers to start with a ratio and build in buffers, then continue to observe and adjust over time. Remember that different factors can bring employees into the workplace or keep them remote. A severe snowstorm might leave you with only 10% occupancy one day, while an all-hands meeting puts you at 90% occupancy another day. Monitor and adjust as-needed.

Important ratio seating considerations

There are a few simple considerations facility managers need to keep top-of-mind while they calculate and implement a ratio seating strategy:

  • Ratios aren’t perfect and it’s best to plan contingencies for overflow seating
  • Seats and workspace types are two different variables; treat them as such
  • Create seating ratios for every level: department, floor, and building
  • Make seat utilization reporting metrics central to workplace management
  • Seek to understand outliers and their effect on ideal seating ratios
  • Account for seating ratio as the company hires or changes work policies

Enjoy a balanced desking concept

Ratio seating offers a calculated, measured approach to maximize space occupancy. Done right, it creates a hassle-free flex-seating arrangement for employees and an occupancy standard that facility managers can adjust as-needed. It’s a calculated solution where a 1:1 desking ratio may no longer be possible or practical. Expect to see more opportunities for ratio seating in our post-pandemic working world.

Keep reading: 6 Variables of Office Seating Plan Software

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Five Reasons to Use an Employee and Space Locator

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator
SpaceIQ

The workplace isn’t a static environment—at least, it shouldn’t be in this age of dynamic work. With the agility we see in workplaces today, the need for an employee and space locator quickly becomes evident. Workplace managers need to know where their people are, employees need the ability to locate desks, and facility managers need the data that comes with these interactions.

For small and growing companies, the need for an employee and space locator can seem trivial. That is, until they realize this system is the backbone for everything from wayfinding to hotel desk management. It’s a platform that allows you to be as agile as your employees need you to be. The benefits touch every aspect of business, no matter how big or small the company.

Here’s a look at five reasons to take a second look at investing in an employee and space locator.

1. Saved time for employees

Employee and space locator software offers the best of two important tools: wayfinding and employee directory. More important, it brings them together in a broader context that creates exemplary time savings for employees.

Bailey needs to chat with Mara and Thom. Through the office’s employee and space locator app, Bailey can quickly see where the other two are and choose a nearby conference room that’s the right size and available at a time that works for all three of them. The entire process takes a few minutes, instead of countless minutes spent searching.

This concept of saved time becomes even more important in flex work environments. Maybe Thom changes seats frequently? What if the nearest conference room isn’t available? Alternative options become instant possibilities.

2. Better space management

On the facility management side, employee and space locators generate constant data bout worker and workplace habits. Information expounds from these platforms, and managers can channel it into better decision making when it comes to space management and governance.

If the third-floor conference room goes unused 73% of the time each month, it’s a good bet that space is better off repurposed. Likewise, employee location data might tell you that your employees prefer a hoteling arrangement, promoting an office-wide shift to this philosophy.

3. Govern facilities better

An employee locator unlocks broader governance capabilities for managers. It can help take facilities to a new level of usefulness and accessibility by creating new opportunities for space utilization. Someone who might’ve never used a hot desk can use one with ease—and coworkers can still find them with ease. Meanwhile, spaces without an identity can be governed as-needed by those who lack space.

There’s also a level of access control and management. Employee locators can track the access habits of employees to show where controls might be useful in dictating the workplace. If executives are all on the fifth floor, it becomes easy to restrict access credentials to that area, to add security without disrupting workflows. It amounts to better space governance.

4. Institute seamless hoteling

As evidenced by the other benefits on this list, employee and space location software is the lynchpin for instituting an effective hoteling strategy in any office. With employees always on the move and workspaces constantly changing hands, there needs to be a system for identifying open/reserved spaces and finding employees wherever they may be.

Hoteling is all about pairing open space with employee demand. To gauge both takes software that can process these demands. Employees interact with location software to find a space and, through the act of reserving it, alert the system to their location at a given time. The result is more than a free-flowing, unencumbered workplace—it’s the constant generation of data about workplace utilization.

5. Health and safety considerations

In a post-coronavirus world, health and safety are top-of-mind in any workplace. Wayfinding software and space reservations systems are on the front lines of sophisticated track and trace systems. With a full record of space occupation and employees’ proximity to one another, contact tracing becomes much easier—and more effective.

There are also opportunities to execute better space sanitization and sterilization. Employee and space location data is the basis for cleaning schedules, sanitization buffers, maintenance windows, and more. For many companies, health and wellness compliance hinges on knowing where employees are (and have been), and which spaces they’ve interacted with.

Connect employees with the spaces they need

Every person within a workplace has a relationship to the different spaces it offers. An employee and space locator ties them together in meaningful ways. Employees can find the spaces best-suited to them. Facility managers can capture trends and make workplace adjustments. Management can tend their flock of productive personnel.

There’s value in connecting people and spaces, from top to bottom. The simplest way to do it is through a robust wayfinding system with integrated employee and space locators.

Keep reading: The Five Major Pillars of a Wayfinding Program

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12 Benefits of Open Office Hoteling

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

The open office concept has become something of a taboo during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing mandates and fear of proximity are forcing change to traditional open offices. The solution is not too far of a pivot: open office hoteling. It is a concept that brings the structure and oversight of hoteling to the free-flowing open office.

Considering the short pivot from traditional open office to open office hoteling? Here are 12 reasons to look closer and endeavor to experiment with a hoteling concept during the pandemic.

  1. Supports flex workers. When employees have the option to work remote or in-office, employers need to plan to accommodate both. Will they come in today? If they do, will we have a desk for them? Hoteling forces predictability. A desk reservation means they’ll be in, and when they arrive, they’ll have a desk.
  2. Supports agile workers. As employees flit around agile workplaces, they need workspaces designed to accommodate their changing workflow. The ability to book a hotel desk in transition fits with the agile model. In this way, open office hoteling is a great framework for agile workplaces and ideal for establishing employee expectations.
  3. Supports remote workers. Your company has 50 workers, 35 of which work remote. Your workplace has seating for 40—more than enough to accommodate the 15 full-time in-house staff. The remaining desks accommodate remote employees who may need to spend time in the physical office. You can bring in 25 of your 35 remote staff for an all-hands meeting and guarantee accommodations for the day.
  4. Great for contact tracing. The open office is not conducive to social distancing and COVID-19 safety standards—at least, not as a free-flowing environment. Hoteling brings order to open offices and enables better control over coronavirus protocols. This includes contact tracing. Hoteling is a responsible solution to open office space during COVID-19.
  5. Ideal for utilization trending. Hotel desks give facility manager a clear picture of utilization in real-time and over time. Because employees need to book space, bookings become a measurable stat that’s trackable and interpretable. For example, if only 20 of your 40 hotel desks see action over a month-long period, it’s safe to say you can scale back.
  6. Easy to calculate costs. Facility managers can use office hoteling software to assign values to each hotel desk in their fleet of workspaces. Then, using utilization metrics, it’s possible to track the cost, ROI, and value of each space. This quantifiable data is vital for making upstream decisions about real estate and facilities management, and it creates greater understanding as to the true cost of a workplace.
  7. Centralized management. The framework hoteling operates within is great for exercising control over the workplace. Facility managers can quarantine specific spaces within the open office environment for sanitization or specific groups, and push desk demands to open hoteling spaces. Similarly, it’s easy to submit work tickets or requests on a per-desk basis, to ensure proper upkeep, cleaning, or repairs.
  8. Integrative with X. In the increasingly connected world of work, integrations enable innovation. An office hoteling system offers broad integration capabilities that make navigating an open office environment simpler, safer, and more efficient. Directory integration makes it easy to find coworkers, no matter what hotel desk they’re at. Wayfinding integrations keep employees grounded in new environments. Booking integrations through Slack make reserving a hotel space simple. The more integrations, the better.
  9. Simplifies space planning. The flexibility of hoteling makes it a plug-and-play solution for many companies assessing their workplace’s efficiency and space utilization. Because hoteling pertains to single spaces within a larger network of optional desks, it’s easy for facility managers to integrate them into an existing floor plan—especially when using space planning software. This saves the trouble of a complete workplace reinvention or major floor plan redesign.
  10. Freedom of choice for employees. Employees want the ability to choose where and how they work. Hoteling gives them this opportunity, but in the context of a managed framework of desks. It’s the best of both worlds! Freedom of choice boosts productivity and morale, while providing facility managers the necessary controls to ensure a balanced workplace.
  11. Low-cost desking. Because of their flexibility, hotel desks bring a new level of cost efficiency to open floor plan concepts. Otherwise-static spaces can become hoteling areas and bring newfound utilization with them. From a cost perspective, a room with four hotel desks filled at 50% occupancy is more valuable than the same room unfilled due to a blanket ban on group meetings due to COVID-19.
  12. Scalability. Whether your workplace has 10 hotel desks or 100 hoteling spaces of varying types, the management framework behind the concept scales. As facility managers figure out supply and demand, it’s easy to add and consolidate spaces within the hoteling network.

These benefits span employees and employers alike, covering cost, productivity, and spatial concepts. In a nutshell: it’s hard to beat the benefits of open office hoteling as we transition into the future of work. If you already use an open office, these benefits are even more enticing, because they’re already within reach.

Keep Reading: Hoteling in the Workplace

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What’s the Future of Work Post COVID-19?

What’s the Future of Work Post COVID-19?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

Since the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic, companies have speculated on the future of work post COVID-19. As the months dragged on, most companies came to the same conclusion: the future of work depends on a successful pivot during the pandemic. Rather than wait for the virus to pass, companies began to explore new work schedules, desking concepts, remote work, and a host of new workplace standards and practices.

While much of the workforce is still settling in almost a year into the pandemic, the future of work post COVID-19 is becoming clearer—thanks in large part to the adaptations of leading companies. Here’s what’s trending up and paving the way for the future of work in our upcoming post-pandemic world.

Remote work is here to stay

Remote work was arguably the single biggest pivot during the pandemic. The exodus from the workplace to home offices, dining room tables, and couches has proven that a significant portion of the population can work from home. As they settle in, many employees are finding that they enjoy the freedom remote work affords them, and are willing to put up with some of the cons attached to it.

Employers are also discovering the benefits of a remote workforce. Expect many employers to trim back their workplace footprint in the coming years as more employees opt for remote work. New workplace desking concepts are also good for the bottom line, as they exhibit better space utilization and cost-efficiency.

The amicable view on remote work by both employers and employees indicates this is one trend that’s here to stay.

Distributed teams

In conjunction with remote work, distributed teams are also sure to stick around. Whether they’re all remote or a mixture of remote vs. in-office, teams are no longer in the same place, which means their communication standards have changed.

The future is filled with more Slack messages, Zoom calls, and Dropbox collaborations. Teams might not all be in the same place, but they need to be on the same page. Employers need to take distributed teams into consideration as they plan upcoming investments in technology and look for ways to upskill managers.

Hoteling emerges in a big way

Hoteling office space is right behind remote work in terms of lasting changes to how we work. Hoteling has allowed companies to facilitate a safe return to work by giving employees the freedom to choose their workspace, while tracking workspace utilization. It’s not only great for contact tracing, it’s a valuable desking concept for agile work environments and companies practicing flex work.

Hoteling offers a perfect medium between the freedom of hot desking and the structure of assigned or static workspaces. Managed correctly, hoteling will become the lynchpin for companies with complex scheduling across flex teams. As we move past the pandemic, employers will look for ways to downsize their square footage while growing their workforce, and they’ll rely on hoteling and flex work to balance these adjustments.

How will coworking and hot desks fare?

In 2018 and 2019, hot desking and coworking appeared to be the clear frontrunners in the future of work. These workplace concepts even ushered in the current crop of space planning software more and more companies will rely on into the future.

While hot desking and coworking will see a rebound post-pandemic, there’s fear that they won’t bounce back with as much gusto. Coworking spaces will reappear and may thrive thanks to a significant uptick in remote workers, but the business model has become shakier under the context of the pandemic. Hot desks may cede their share of the workplace to hotel desks, which give more control to facility managers when it comes to understanding worker habits and workspace utilization.

We haven’t seen the end of coworking and hot desks, but the future might bring different iterations of these concepts from what we know them as pre-pandemic.

Will we ever go back to static desks or open offices?

The future is the age of the agile workplace, which means we’re not likely to see a resurgence of static desking concepts. Open offices aren’t off the table, however, provided they’re rooted in flex work principles. Benching won’t likely bounce back as well—breakout spaces will take their place.

The more dynamic an individual workspace, the more likely its future in a post COVID-19 workplace. The reason? Dedicated space will become a burden on the balance sheet if distancing policies stay in place. Even if they don’t, employees are becoming acclimated to new occupancy standards and won’t want to pack into confined spaces if they can help it.

Early trends squash speculation

The above trends aren’t speculation—they’re emerging standards. Almost one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing the makings of a future beyond it. The adjustments and transitions companies are making now aren’t short-term pivots—they’re planning for the future. There’s no going back.

While these standards will continue to evolve, they’re setting the stage for employee expectations. After a mass migration to remote work, distributed teams, hoteling, and flex work, employers and employees alike won’t be in any hurry to up-end their work arrangement again!

Read Next: Space Planning Software Buyers Guide

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Office Hoteling App: Five Must-Have Features

Office Hoteling App: Five Must-Have Features

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

As companies scramble to maintain workplace operations during an ongoing pandemic, an office hoteling app has become a standout solution for a safe return to work. Workplaces have begun the transition to hoteling for many reasons—seating oversight, contact tracing, space utilization, and better individual workspace management, to name a few. An office hoteling app is an employee’s gateway to navigating this new floor plan and the lynchpin for successfully returning to the workplace after COVID-19.

Wayfinding is a two-way street. Employers need to manage the hoteling system to oversee variables like seat availability and workspace accessibility. On the flip side, employees need to engage that system and interact with it to successfully reintegrate during a return to work. Here’s a look at some of the most important features an office hoteling app needs to facilitate the latter’s role in successful hoteling.

1. Real-time desk visibility

Employees need a live look at the workspaces available to them. Hoteling falls apart without real-time visibility. What happens when two people book the same desk, or a desk appears filled but is actually vacant? Hoteling has the power to be a flexible solution that empowers employees during the return to work, but only if they trust the app to provide real-time insights.

Look for cloud-based hoteling app solutions with low latency integrations to deliver real-time desk visibility. Systems should also be smart enough to handle double-bookings by recommending adjacent spaces or canceling a booking the moment another is confirmed.

2, Workspace identifying information

The more information a hoteling app provides to employees, the more value they’ll derive from it. Workspace identifying information needs to transcend where the desk is or the physical square footage it occupied. Some useful information to attach to hotel desks includes:

  • Workspace size and location
  • Type of furnishings (desk, chair)
  • Outlets or USB hookups present
  • Hookups present (ethernet, A/V)
  • Special considerations

The purpose of this information is to answer as many questions about the workspace as possible upfront. Identifying information also sets expectations. If the profile says there’s an adjustable standing desk, it might sway an employee to choose that space over another. Just make sure expectations fit reality! Booking a workspace with a standing desk and arriving at one with a traditional sitting desk won’t bode well with employees.

3. Integrated wayfinding

Companies with multiple floors or large campuses need a wayfinding component built into employee hoteling apps. While descriptions of the desk location are helpful (third floor, northeast corner by the copy closet), they leave room for interpretation errors. Wayfinding takes human error out of the process.

Wayfinding is also invaluable if there are dozens (or hundreds) of similar desks. “Third floor cubicle cluster” isn’t an effective description and will disrupt the hoteling system as employees seat themselves in the wrong place. Navigation should take them straight to their seat and offer confirmation that they’re in the right place.

4. Directory integration

The team dynamic is still important in the workplace—even with social distancing measures present. It behooves employees to sit in proximity to the people they work with, even if they need to keep some distance in-between. Getting up to occupy a conference room under new social standards is a lot easier when everyone is a few desks apart, rather than a few floors.

Directory integration is also useful for tracking down individuals within the hoteling framework. Derry might not sit in the same place today as he did two days ago, or last week. If Michaela needs to bring something to him, she needs to be able to find him. Tying hotel desk reservations to the employee directory makes Derry’s location accessible—and, if there’s wayfinding integration, it’s even easier for Michaela to track him down. Less time spent searching is less time wasted.

5. Cross-platform functionality

App functionality needs to be consistent across all devices. If it’s not, employee experience will be inconsistent, which means the hoteling experience will vary from person to person. Whether they own an Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, or any of a dozen other popular smartphones, your office hoteling app should deliver a uniform experience for everything from desk booking to directory lookups and wayfinding.

Deliver a consistent hoteling experience

Hoteling has emerged as a way to help every employee safely return to the office post COVID-19. To facilitate this return smoothly and safely, each employee needs to have a positive, seamless experience with the office hoteling app. Make it easy for them to see available workspaces, book them, navigate to them, and find their coworkers, and they’ll be more confident in their return to work.

Read Next: Streamline Desk Booking with Office Hoteling Software

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Post COVID-19 Return to Office

Post COVID-19 Return to Office: How to Cope with Spikes

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

As of November 2020, the United States was riding the third wave of COVID-19 to new highs in daily positive cases. Or rather, the third surge of the first wave. Almost one year into the pandemic and it continues to spread unchecked. It’s causing disruptions for businesses at every level—especially for those hoping for a post COVID-19 return to office work. 

Many companies chose to open up their workplaces in late August during a downtrend in cases. Unfortunately, positive tests ticked up again in late September and have been on the rise ever since. This has spurred a return to remote work for many companies, while others are hunkering down to weather what appears to be a pandemic ready to surge into 2021. However they’re handling it, companies face many uncertainties and no small number of frustrations as they struggle to predict and plan for the pandemic. 

Is the workplace safe right now?

During the August bout of business reopening, many employees expressed concern over returning to the workplace for fear of a spike in cases. These fears are at a head—although not because of the workplace. In fact, there are few workplace hotspots reported. Experts attribute the uncontrolled rise in cases to the fact that “lockdown measures have lifted, more people are spending time indoors as weather gets cold, residents are feeling fatigued by safety measures, and cases never dropped sufficiently.”

Workplaces may in fact be safer than normal due to the stringent policies adopted at the outset of the pandemic. At-home self-assessments, mask mandates, workplace distancing, increased janitorial measures, and distant desking concepts combine to keep transmission opportunities low in the workplace. 

How to cope with spikes

Even if an employee doesn’t catch COVID-19 in the workplace, it doesn’t mean that workplace isn’t affected. Space utilization falls as more employees stay home. Spaces may be off-limits for disinfection after an employee tests positive. Other employees may need to self-quarantine in lieu of a positive test, due to the virus’ incubation period. These factors and countless others affect the workplace and make it more difficult to mount a successful return to work strategy. 

To cope with uncertainty, employers need to create stability. Just as they adopted new cleaning and social standards to help employees safely return to the office post COVID-19, companies also need to institute policies that drive predictable results. Here are some examples:

  • A hoteling policy allows employers to reorganize their workplace to optimize space utilization, control occupancy, and create contact tracing standards. 
  • Create a rolling schedule that separates employees into in-office and at-home groups, rotating bi-weekly to preserve a 14-day buffer in the event of a positive or false-positive.
  • Build in standards and protocols for each workspace that govern which employees can use them, when, and for how long, to dictate space utilization habits. 
  • Restructure the workplace to repurpose shared spaces into hoteling stations or single-person workstations, compliant with social distancing standards. 

To create predictability and certainty in their workplaces, employers need to embrace flexible work concepts within the context of a well-governed framework. This means managing hotel desks with office hoteling software or pre-scheduling workplace sanitization tasks as employees book spaces. A return to work that’s structured and managed is necessary to combat spikes in COVID-19 cases and the disruption that comes with them. 

Consider employee fears and frustrations

Even the best desking policy or the most thorough cleaning standards aren’t enough to quell employee fears about COVID-19. To assuage those fears and promote a safe, productive, comfortable return to work, employers need to be transparent in their efforts. 

  • Show employees exactly what changes you’ve made to accommodate them
  • Explain in specific detail how these changes promote safety and reduce risk
  • Lay out protocols for how contact tracing and employee privacy factor in
  • Recognize the severity of COVID-19 and empathize with concerned employees
  • Don’t dismiss fears or concerns; address them specifically and thoroughly

Ultimately, some employees will not feel comfortable with a return to work, no matter how broad your precautions are. If at all possible, find alternative work solutions for these individuals. If remote work isn’t possible, work to accommodate them in-house in as many ways as possible. 

Get back into the swing of things

Regardless of employee trepidation or rising COVID-19 cases, a return to work will take time. After working remotely for months or flexing back-and-forth between the office and remote work, employees need time to reset and settle themselves back into some semblance of a “normal” work environment. Whether it’s the one they enjoyed before COVID-19 or a “new norm” brought on by the pandemic, a post COVID-19 return to office work will take time. 

Read Next: Workplace COVID-19 Resources

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Space Planning for COVID-19

Space Planning for COVID-19: Four Effective Solutions

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

The concept of workspace allocation has been in flux since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some desking concepts are now inefficient in their use of space utilization, while others are downright inapplicable due to new standards for distancing. It has many businesses reevaluating their approach to space planning for COVID-19.

As they consider new workplace layouts and desking concepts, facility managers need to consider them within the context of the coronavirus pandemic. What desking concepts comply with social distancing standards? What spaces could need to change to promote better utilization? Are there policies to govern when, where, and how employees use specific workspaces? Above all, how can facility managers bring these criteria together through functional space planning?

It’s impossible to plan for an end to the pandemic, and failing to do anything means an inefficient workplace for as long as the pandemic rages on. Here are four effective solutions given the current predicament. 

1. Adopt a hoteling standard

Hoteling has emerged as one of the de-facto desking concepts during the pandemic. The relative flexibility of hoteling—combined with a framework of oversight through hotel space planning software—makes it easy to allocate the right space to the right people. Employees still get the freedom to choose their desk for the day or week, and facility managers get a clear understanding of occupancy and utilization. 

For hoteling to be effective, companies need to create hoteling stations that meet the needs of employees. This might mean special accommodations for different work groups or a specific location within the building, near certain facilities. Hotel stations need to be comfortable, adaptable, accessible, and conducive to concentration and productivity. 

2. Repurpose group work spaces

As companies explore new desking concepts like hoteling, they’ll need to borrow space from current facilities to make these concepts work. The simplest solution is to repurpose group work spaces, which are less likely to see usage during the pandemic (and after). A rise in Zoom meetings and virtual collaboration means many conference rooms, collaboration space, and group work areas can be dismantled and revived as hoteling areas or flex work spaces.

While it might seem dramatic to convert group workspaces into smaller workstations, realize that this is one of the most likely office space trends post COVID-19. Video chat and virtual collaboration changed group work in a major way by taking the need for proximity out of the equation. While the conference room is unlikely to ever go away, businesses should plan to dedicate less square footage to these spaces in the future. 

3. Schedule buffer time

Repurposing space and changing the desking strategy aren’t the only factors that affect space planning. How and when employees occupy a space also matter—as do the precautions that go into sanitizing it in a pandemic. In concepts like hoteling and hot desking, multiple employees will use the same desk over the course of a day or week, necessitating sanitization between uses. During these times, that space will be unavailable, which means planning to seat employees elsewhere during that time. 

Schedule appropriate buffers between start and stop times, so shared spaces receive cleaning between uses and employees aren’t disrupted while they’re using the space. This is as easy as generating support tickets along with space reservations or scheduling routine cleanings every few hours as bookings expire. This will keep the space clean and viable, in-play as part of a new workspace floor plan. 

4. Put parameters on workspaces

An often-overlooked COVID-19 office space planning tip is to limit who can use certain spaces or when they’re available. It seems counterintuitive for space optimization, but can help facility managers better-govern space, as well as the flow of employees through the workplace. 

For example, if the hotel desks on the fourth floor are off limits to anyone other than the sales team, Sales is less likely to spread out across the entire building. Likewise, the second floor might only be for Marketing, because the amenities on that floor are conducive to graphic design, print, and copywriting teams. 

This type of space-specific control ensures workplaces are available for those who need them, where and when they need them. It can avoid overcrowding in certain areas or bottlenecks for specific workspace types. Simple controls and parameters make a big difference in the effectiveness of a new workplace concept. 

Plan for COVID-19 and beyond

The great thing about these space planning solutions is that they all work together—and, they all create a framework for the workplace of the future. The marriage of flexible space planning with controls in place to govern workspaces sets the stage for an adaptable office environment. There’s no telling how long the pandemic will last or what the outcome will be. These solutions put more control in the hands of businesses as they consider the future of their physical workplace. 

Read Next: COVID-19 Workplace Resources