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Workplace Thought Leadership

IWMS Technology and the Modern Workplace 

By Nick Stefanidakis
General Manager, Archibus
SpaceIQ

Rapid workplace changes and the emergence of cutting-edge technologies are ushering in new facilities management trends. They also are shedding light on the benefits of adopting Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) technology to scale and support both short-term transitions and long-term transformations.

The lasting impacts of the pandemic, demands for connectivity and collaboration, adoption of cloud-based applications, machine learning, and a focus on sustainability are sure to have far-reaching effects on workplaces worldwide. Businesses that find opportunities to embrace these trends will be better prepared to make data-driven decisions, improve performance, and achieve new standards of success in facilities management.

Planning for long-term workplace resilience

As agile work environments increasingly define the “new normal,” we will likely see substantial changes in workspace requirements.

The prospect of returning to physical workspaces has renewed attention on prioritizing employee health and safety. Things that employees and businesses may not have thought twice about before — air circulation, sanitization practices, access to communal spaces, traffic patterns — weigh more heavily as workforces reemerge from stay-at-home orders. New health and safety requirements will demand that organizations take these factors into account.

While some have deployed interim return-to-work solutions (hoteling and desk reservations, updated cleaning protocols, adopting remote management solutions, staggering schedules), others are reassessing overall workplace strategies as they shift from reactive to forward-thinking resiliency planning.

Organizations now need a long-term strategy for facility management, supported by workplace management technology that offers flexibility and scalability for remote, in-person, and hybrid work setups. A centralized, enterprise-wide IWMS enables teams to standardize workflows, reduce duplication, provide transparency with real-time information shared among teams (e.g., badging and health check-in data), and ultimately make more collaborative decisions.

A renewed focus on collaboration and employee engagement

Gone are the days where every employee comes to work, sits in the same seat, and leaves with coworkers at the end of the day. Now, more offices are refocusing workspaces as socialization and collaboration hubs. Employees, visitors, and others coming into the workplace need convenient, reliable ways to ensure they have the spaces needed to work in ways that are best for them. IWMS technology offers insights for businesses and building owners/operators into whether they need to increase hotel desk reservations or implement desk-sharing setups — all while providing safe and engaging spaces.

Hybrid work setups boost SaaS adoption

More hybrid workers mean people need anytime/anywhere access to critical systems and information. Stemming from this demand is an emerging trend: facilities management shifting from on-premises to SaaS-based implementation.

Organizations are investing more in cloud enterprise applications due to ease of deployment, configurability, and scalability. When COVID-19 forced many businesses to adopt remote work setups, real estate, and facilities teams with cloud applications already in place quickly adapted to changing conditions and seamlessly accessed critical business information. Others were left scrambling.

While it was a tough lesson, organizations can learn from such disruptions and invest in technology that helps predict change and evolves to meet new work structures. SaaS-based IWMS applications empower key stakeholders to make faster data-driven decisions, automate business processes, and deliver on mobile needs.

Look for trends in workspace usage patterns

Machine learning in building management has been gaining traction in recent years. It delivers efficiencies in predictive maintenance and real-time workplace management that help manage costs and provide optimal work environments.

Developments such as the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced analytics, and new wireless sensors are a few ways companies are creating smarter facilities management.

Smart building solutions use a range of sensors or actuators — light, motion, building occupancy — to collect data from connected devices. Information is then stored in an IWMS. Continuous monitoring lets facilities managers identify changes or inefficiencies in building usage, system performance or environmental conditions and establish triggers for maintenance or control systems.

When combined with an IWMS, massive amounts of IoT data can be aggregated into a dashboard for meaningful insights. This not only de-silos critical workplace data, but also highlights identifiable trends and patterns for strategic future workplace planning.

Using data to plan, design, construct, and manage facilities

Building information modeling (BIM) and its integration with IWMS technology is a new approach to managing the many phases of building design and workplace management. BIM centers around 3D modeling programs that provide a customized simulation of an actual facility. The rendering, when combined with IoT and Machine Learning represents a digital twin of the building, which allows users to virtually move through a space and observe its features, dimensions, and operating parameters — from anywhere. Such technology offers nearly infinite possibilities to help professionals plan, design, construct, and manage facilities. The volume of BIM data and the context of the data stored within an IWMS is so useful, and the more stakeholders leverage these insights, the more they’ll enable fully informed decision-making.

Optimizing building usage and consumption

It’s all too common to waste energy in a building in the form of incorrect setpoints, poor maintenance or simple oversights — not turning off lights in conference rooms after a meeting, keeping rarely used equipment plugged in, etc.

While steps like switching out light bulbs or installing new HVAC systems are necessary, they may not deliver the long-lasting results you’re hoping for.

A more impactful solution is using IWMS technology to optimize usage and consumption across building systems and real estate portfolios aligned to the actual, real-time conditions. This empowers building owners and facilities managers to anticipate, troubleshoot, and manage issues as they arise. An IWMS also enables smarter operations that can reconcile the entire range of optimal sustainability performance metrics.

Addressing long-term transformations

As the adoption of IWMS technology grows, so does its potential to play a critical role in supporting workplaces for years to come. Trends in IWMS are pointing toward a future that provides extensive and essential support to facilities managers, building occupiers, service providers, owners/operators, and real estate management companies to organize, centralize, and optimize workplace data at all levels — from individual workstations to entire real estate portfolios. It’s with such insights that they can make the best decisions to address current challenges and anticipate future needs. For more information, read our guide on Modern Workplace Platforms.

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

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Workplace Thought Leadership

Improve Indoor Air Quality with Condition-Based HVAC Maintenance 

By Fred Kraus
Senior Director, Product, Archibus
SpaceIQ

Issues surrounding indoor air quality (IAQ) can typically be broken down into two categories: environmental safety factors and the risk of pathogen transmission. While indoor air safety has been a growing concern for several years, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the topic of pathogen transmission to the forefront of the IAQ conversation.

Since factors like indoor temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide levels can influence pathogen transmission, business owners are more concerned about optimizing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) maintenance than ever before. COVID-19 may be a driving force in the movement to optimize IAQ but boosting ventilation performance also improves safety and cuts costs.

Let’s take a look at how a streamlined operations and maintenance approach can improve indoor air safety.

Maintaining IAQ at scale: Is it possible?

The manual approach to preventive HVAC maintenance is highly ineffective on a larger scale. As an example, one college might have 53 buildings, 145 AHUs with IAQ issues, and 838 zones with IAQ issues. On this level, even simple HVAC fixes like stuck fire dampers or loose set screws would be challenging to keep up with.

Preventive maintenance best practices recommend making almost 1,000 HVAC checks per year. To accomplish this, facility managers would constantly need to check on parts such as cooling towers, chillers, boilers, etc. And this preventive maintenance would all be on top of other urgent, corrective maintenance requests submitted on a daily basis.

In reality, most organizations simply cannot handle this type of maintenance. From budget constraints to a lack of resources, there are countless challenges standing in the way of frequent preventive maintenance.

Typically, most HVAC systems are left unfixed until someone in the building complains about it. Without the right tools to help scale preventive maintenance, companies just can’t keep up.

Optimizing IAQ with fault detection and diagnostics

So, how can organizations overcome the challenges of HVAC preventive maintenance? Simply by switching from a manual approach to a smarter, software-driven approach.

Fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) software offered by companies like Clockworks Analytics allows organizations to run a daily analysis on HVAC systems, identifying any hidden issues across all equipment. Rather than falling behind on hundreds of annual preventive maintenance checks, companies can run thousands of automated checks every day and transition to a condition-based approach.

Detailed diagnostic reports eliminate the time-consuming investigation process. Instead, they deliver a straightforward list of HVAC issues to be resolved. These reports provide important information such as:

  • Equipment ID
  • Impacted tenants
  • Work orders
  • Part numbers
  • Assignees
  • Priority
  • Work history
  • Recommended tasks

Technology helps keep the air clean

An integrated workplace management system (IWMS) – like that offered by Archibus – can be integrated with a tool like Clockworks Analytics to aggregate and centralize data, making it easier and faster for facilities managers to schedule and track work orders.

This streamlined system replaces outdated spreadsheets and paper documents. It allows facilities managers to easily manage tasks like:

  • Replacing air filters and other consumable filtration equipment
  • Cleaning HVAC units
  • Inspecting for mold growth
  • Clearing condensation in drains
  • Examining registers and exchangers

The shift to real-time response

By shifting from a rigid, scheduled approach to a more natural, real-time response system, organizations will be better equipped to stay on top of HVAC preventive maintenance.

Here are a few reasons how an FDD and IWMS working together can enable a real-time response method:

  • Tackle multiple tasks at once. Facilities managers can view upcoming maintenance needs and tackle them while working on another task in the same area.
  • Match the right people with the right tasks. The software can align the type of issue with the best person fit to complete the task.
  • Prioritize tasks based on needs. Facilities managers can prioritize tasks based on categories like energy waste, comfort, or impact on maintenance.
  • Learn the true cost of unresolved maintenance tasks. The software highlights avoidable costs, allowing organizations to potentially save thousands of dollars each year.
  • Cut out manual investigations. Fault detection and diagnostics software doesn’t just deliver IAQ measurements – it points out potential root cause issues, too. This allows organizations to save time by skipping the manual investigation process.

Making the most of fault detection and diagnostics

Ultimately, switching to a highly intelligent, real-time response system doesn’t change the diagnostic data. What it does change is how that data is put into action. Whether an organization wants to focus on a specific HVAC zone, a particular type of equipment, or specific IAQ issues, an IWMS allows them to achieve their goal.

The cost of falling behind on HVAC maintenance is clear. Organizations put their employees’ health, safety, and comfort at risk. That leaves them vulnerable to pathogens like COVID-19.

Thankfully, when combined with an IWMS, an integrated fault detection and diagnostics system allow companies to protect employees, avoid unplanned downtime, and increase overall efficiency in HVAC preventive maintenance.

Keep reading: Get Familiar with a Facility Maintenance Plan

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Healthcare Space Planning: Facilitate a Healing Environment

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator
SpaceIQ

Healthcare environments are incredibly complex spaces to manage. Not only do facilities managers face unexpected levels of demand and varying forms of need, they’re also dealing with mixed spaces. It’s difficult to use an MRI room for anything other than what it’s intended for; meanwhile, a general treatment room can become anything from a triage station to a space for ultrasounds, inoculations, and more. The sheer number of factors in-play make healthcare space planning an arduous, yet necessary task.

How can healthcare facility managers account for the many unpredictable variables present in a hospital, while orchestrating space that’s agile, accessible, and available? It takes no shortage of resources, including healthcare space planning software. Putting the pieces together in a facility that meets the demand of the local population is a full-time job that’s ever-evolving.

The goal of space planning in healthcare facilities? To ensure every patient has access to the medical care they need, when they need it—and that medical professionals can administer that care with as few physical obstacles as possible.

What is healthcare space planning?

Space planning is about purposing space to meet the needs of the people using it. In a hospital, it means allocating space to treat patients, and optimizing that space so physicians can deliver care.

For example, consider a hospital’s oncology wing. How much of the wing does the hospital need to devote to testing facilities? How much to chemotherapy? What percentage of space needs to go to waiting rooms for family and caregivers? Hospitals need to plan for these demands as they orchestrate space. In doing so, they ensure appropriate facilities are always available to the people who need them.

Space planning in healthcare facilities also occurs at the macro level. For example, it might mean putting the radiology department near the orthopedic wing, in order to promote the relationship between these two business units. This also factors into navigability for patients and physicians. The less ground there is to cover between affiliated areas of the hospital, the better.

Even HIPAA compliance and safety factor into space planning. It’s all about controlling the flow of traffic and instituting access points between sensitive areas.

The benefits of healthcare space planning

Bringing healthcare facilities together through thoughtful space planning affords patients and physicians alike numerous benefits. Here’s what good space planning translates into at a practical level:

  • Better availability of facilities to meet the needs of patients
  • Easier navigability for patients, family, and healthcare staff
  • Faster-paced operations that benefit from streamlined layout
  • Physicians have access to facilities that enable better patient care
  • Enhanced safety, security, and privacy in well-orchestrated spaces
  • Fewer overlaps and interruptions in facilities ensure smoother interactions

Space planning effectively makes healthcare facilities accessible. Patients or family visiting will know exactly where to find what they’re looking for, and those relying on the facilities will get the care they need from space orchestrated to support them.

From an administrative standpoint, healthcare space planning makes it easier for facilities managers to optimize space. Hospitals are other healthcare facilities are only so large, which means using precious square footage in the best possible ways. Planning influences execution, which gives managers the baseline they need to govern facilities based on demand.

How does healthcare space planning software help?

Hospitals operate 24 hours a day, with an ebb and flow of need and demand around the clock. Space planning software provides the tools and resources to realize these varying levels of demand in real time. It gives facility managers access to space insights that drive better decision-making, ultimately leading to a better standard of patient care.

Space planning occurs on two levels: proactive and reactive. Proactive planning means recognizing demand for space and tailoring facilities. For example, if the hematology department is overcrowded, it might mean taking over the phlebotomy lab next door and transitioning phlebotomy to a bedside practice. It’s about recognizing the operational demands of facilities and balancing space accordingly.

From a reactive standpoint, space planning is about continuing to meet ongoing demand for space. If the hospital is outsourcing more of its pathology to an off-site lab, the pathology department may become a new dialysis department, to better-support the growing number of patients who require this treatment.

Space planning software enables both proactive and reactive space planning capabilities. Facility managers can use it to sandbox new floor plans, understand space allocation, and contextualize space based on how it’s used. Best of all, software makes space planning agile in hospital environments that are increasingly dynamic.

Enable the highest level of patient care

Well-planned, agile healthcare facilities have rippling effects. Shorter wait times for treatments and tests. Less strain on patients and family as they navigate facilities. Improved safety, accessibility, and HIPAA compliance. It all roots back to how facility managers organize and purpose space, and the governance associated with those spaces.

As demand for healthcare rises and hospitals become more dynamic and agile, even more opportunities for space planning become clear. One space, one purpose still defines some areas of healthcare facilities, but for all others, there are many opportunities to meet patient demand. Planning for agile, multifaceted spaces is the path forward for the future of healthcare.

Keep reading: Healthcare Space Utilization: Caregiving at Capacity

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Healthcare Space Utilization: Caregiving at Capacity

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator
SpaceIQ

The United States’ healthcare system is a $8.45+ trillion industry—and it’s growing larger by the year. As demand creeps higher for everything from dentistry to oncology, more and more facilities are springing up across the country to meet these needs. In major metropolitan areas with larger populations and around-the-clock need, more facilities aren’t necessarily the solution. Better healthcare space utilization in existing facilities is.

The ability to use existing healthcare facilities better unlocks broad potential for meeting need, without the additional (tremendous) cost of building and staffing new buildings. Tapping into the fullest potential of a hospital or other healthcare facility rests heavily on the ability to orchestrate space around sometimes unpredictable demand. That starts with a fundamental understanding of capability and availability.

What is healthcare space utilization?

Space utilization is the concept of maximizing the utility of available space. If a hospital has 30 emergency room beds and the average occupancy of those beds is 15, it has a 50% utilization rate. And while this might sound poor, healthcare space utilization differs significantly from other types of utilization metrics. The reason? Much of hospital space is allocated on a contingency basis. The hospital may not use 30 emergency beds, but it needs 30 emergency beds based on the local census.

Healthcare space utilization goes beyond looking at usage as a static figure. To truly understand utilization takes a mind for all the variables that factor into demand. How many emergency room cases were there last quarter? Last year? Over the past five years? What’s the average time per bed occupied? What percentage of total beds are emergency beds? These factors and dozens more form the basis for space allocation, and also inform the standard for utilization.

While space utilization may be a measure of how often usable space is occupied, it’s also a measure of space efficiency in context. To gauge an accurate measure of both is an ongoing, ever-difficult task for healthcare facility managers.

The benefits of healthcare space utilization

Good utilization in hospitals and healthcare facilities comes down to contextualizing use within the parameters of the ecosystem. Facility administrators who can keep space allocation and utilization balanced help unlock significant benefits for everyone seeking or administering healthcare:

  • Better access to spaces designed to support specific healthcare
  • Specific, purposeful space planning and organization
  • Smoother administration as the result of predictable facility usage
  • Improved comfort and convenience for patients receiving treatment
  • Better clinician support from well-equipped and accessible facilities

Ultimately, moderating space utilization comes down to ensuring facilities are available when they’re needed, to the people giving and receiving treatment. Emergency bed utilization may only be 50%, but that means there are several available to housing incoming critical patients from a multiple vehicle accident, for example. Even in non-emergent situations, utilization matters. You don’t want patients sitting for hours waiting on radiology to x-ray their broken arm—they need attention ASAP, from facilities that aren’t constantly at their limit.

How does healthcare space utilization software help?

The biggest unknown variable affecting healthcare facilities is demand. You never know when someone is going to need care—even with appointment scheduling. Utilization software helps account for this unknown by measuring the known variables, to make figuring out a buffer easier.

For example, if there are 10 beds in the chemotherapy wing, each with a utilization rate of 90%, it’s an indicator that more beds may be necessary. Similarly, if the utilization rate of four ultrasound rooms is only 20%, it may be an opportunity to repurpose one or more of them. Utilization software provides these figures to unlock the potential these insights provide.

It’s also important to consider utilization software from the perspective of tracking and monitoring trends, and aligning them with the business goals of a healthcare facility. Do you really need to build a new hemodialysis treatment center? Or, can you establish this environment in current facilities by consolidating underutilized space in the greater hematology wing? In this way, there are cost and treatment benefits rooted in decision-making, made possible by space utilization software insights.

Orchestrate a superior approach to patient care

Healthcare space utilization isn’t just about making use of facilities to avoid the prospect of building and staffing. Above anything else, it’s about being able to deliver superior patient care and a healing experience for the people relying on those facilities. Anticipating demand isn’t always easy, which means the path to better space utilization starts through space governance.

In the modern era, healthcare space utilization software is becoming a must-have, crucial part of the facility management approach. It allows hospitals to be agile with their space and adaptable to the needs of the census. Moreover, it allows hospitals to understand how efficient they’re being, so they can explore new opportunities to provide better caregiving solutions. The result is better use of existing facilities, which helps avoid adding even more costs to an $8.45+ trillion industry that’s already the ire of many.

Keep reading: Healthcare Space Planning: Facilitate a Healing Environment

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Government Space Utilization: Make the Most of Taxpayer Dollars

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist
SpaceIQ

Every major city has government facilities that are, by and large, taxpayer funded. From public libraries to police stations, courthouses to the local DMV—these are facilities we’ll all rely on at some point in time. Taxpayer dollars are what keep them well-maintained and functional. So, when questions of government spending arise, facility waste tends to be one of the first focal points in shoring up a budget. Attention turns to government space utilization.

Space utilization in government facilities is a difficult prospect to get a handle on. These facilities exist to support the public, but there’s no telling when and to what degree people will rely on them. You can’t always predict when there will be a run on books at the local library or when everyone will decide to visit the DMV to renew their license. For government facility managers, space utilization is always a prospect in flux.

Thankfully, modern space utilization software is making it easier to not only maximize utilization in government facilities, but to also optimize it for demand. You might not know when someone will show up to get married at city hall, but you can keep facilities agile enough to adapt.

What is government space utilization?

Space utilization is the prospect of maximizing the use of a particular space vs. its availability. If the space is open for eight hours a day, five days a week, that’s 40 hours of availability. If it’s occupied and in-use for 30 of those hours, utilization is 75%. It is a simple concept, but difficult to practice.

Demand isn’t consistent in government facilities. For example, there’s likely to be much more demand for access to the County Clerk in the spring, when more people apply for marriage certificates. If the waiting room only supports six people, you’ll need to allocate more space for those waiting patiently to apply. During the winter months, you might use this overflow space for something else. Optimizing space utilization stems from understanding demand for it.

Government space utilization comes down to efficiency: both operational and monetarily. Are you making the most of available space in government facilities? Or, are taxpayers footing the bill for unused, unneeded, or ungoverned space? Efficiency metrics will tell you.

The benefits of government space utilization

While cost control is the most prominent benefit of good utilization, it’s far from the only one. Government facilities that capitalize on space efficiently position themselves to offer a variety of benefits to employees and visitors including:

  • Better access to spaces designed to support government functions
  • Specific, purposeful space planning and organization
  • Smoother operations as the result of predictable facility usage
  • Improved comfort and convenience for individuals utilizing space
  • Cost-efficient use of space, which results in lower cost to taxpayers

Utilization emphasizes the practicality of space. Instead of letting some types of spaces sit idle while demand for others grows, utilization metrics illustrate need. In government facilities, the relationship to how often spaces see use and the demands of people using them is crucial. If people aren’t using your space, it means government isn’t meeting the needs of constituents – or worse, they’re paying for unnecessary facilities.

A focus on utilization is a focus on maximizing the usefulness of facilities, while that the same time optimizing cost. From a front-facing constituent standpoint, this is exactly what people expect from them.

How does government space utilization software help?

As mentioned, unpredictability is a big obstacle standing in the way of high utilization levels in government facilities. How do you maximize the availability of a space when demand remains uncertain? For a growing number of municipal building managers, space utilization software is the answer.

Utilization software offers the benefit of both real-time and historical insights. Real-time space utilization metrics allow facility managers to pair immediate demand with space designed to support specific activities, capacities, and locations. Historical data produces patterns and trends, to help make unpredictable demand slightly more identifiable. For example:

  • If two attorneys and their clients need space for arbitration at the courthouse, real-time utilization metrics will show what’s available.
  • If a facility manager wants to know how much space to delegate to a town hall meeting, they can look at previous utilization trends to plan accordingly.

Utilization software makes it possible to maximize space in an ongoing capacity. Government facility managers can learn about the demand and use of space, and work to shape facilities around anticipated expectations. The result are facilities that better-accommodate employees and visitors, while minimizing the cost to taxpayers.

Optimize the capabilities of facilities

More and more, government space utilization isn’t about optimizing one space for one purpose—it’s about optimizing many spaces for many purposes. The trick is to maintain the accessibility and convenience of public-facing facilities. To do this takes reliance on government space utilization software.

From post offices to municipal buildings, it’s possible to optimize space based on capability to address need. The building will remain the same destination for different services, but the way it meets public demand for those services may change. Utilization is now a dynamic metric, and it’s growing ever more important in facilities that need to operate with mind for budget control.

Keep reading: Government Space Planning: Make the Most of Public Facilities

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Government Space Planning: Make the Most of Public Facilities

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator
SpaceIQ

Government facilities are generally well-defined. People have a specific reason for visiting the police station, courthouse, town hall, DMV, and other such buildings. That means the space demands of these buildings tend to be equally as defined. And while it makes designing and staffing these facilities easy, it also necessitates very specific criteria for government space planning.

Space planning in government facilities comes down to three crucial factors. First, it’s about delegating enough space for the actions and activities that occur in these buildings. Second, it’s about making them navigable for employees and visitors alike. Finally—and perhaps most important—it’s about ensuring facilities operate with efficiency, to keep the cost to taxpayers low.

To achieve these criteria takes foresight to the operational demands of government facilities—and the ability to plan and adapt space accordingly.

What is government space planning?

Space planning involves establishing specific use-cases for different areas within facilities. In government buildings, it means pairing the capabilities of space with the demands of the people coming to them. If a constituent comes in for jury duty, where do they hang out until they’re selected or dismissed? Is there an area at the DMV specifically for license picture-taking? How many temporary holding cells are there in the local police station? Meeting these needs is a function of good space planning.

As mentioned above, government space planning also needs to satisfy criteria for accessibility and efficiency. This involves a deep understanding of operations. For example, if you’re delegating space for jury duty selectees, you need to know how many people are in a jury pool at any given time, and how often new pools get called in.

Space planning is a marriage of form and function. When it comes to government facilities, this marriage is vitally important. If employees and constituents can’t access or use space, or if it’s not managed efficiently, tensions will flair. Remember: government institutions need to serve people.

The benefits of government space planning

Coordinating space around demand paves the way for significant benefits. As people seek to access government help and municipalities strive to answer this call to action, space planning bridges the gap. Some of the prominent benefits include:

  • Government facilities become more accessible to constituents
  • Government employees have the space they need to do their jobs
  • The cost to taxpayers drops as facility efficiency conserves funds
  • Fewer overlaps and interruptions in facilities ensure smoother operations
  • Enhanced safety, security, and privacy in well-orchestrated spaces
  • Easier navigability and wayfinding in well-organized facilities

Government buildings need to follow the old adage, “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Visitors to government facilities want the reliability that comes with having a defined place to go and a definite route to get there. Space planning is key in giving them that. If there’s no defined or planned space, it creates uncertainty and unpredictability for visitors and employees alike.

Take a simple example, like committee meeting. The committee may only meet once per month, but they need a space to house all eight committee members, as well as local citizens who want to attend and learn more. Space planning involves finding and reserving a space in advance of the meeting, and ensuring that space meets the needs of the meeting. Does it have tables and chairs? Is there A/V equipment to showcase a presentation? Is the room accessible to the general public? Planning needs to eliminate any and all obstacles upfront so the space can serve its role in a successful committee meeting.

How does government space planning software help?

The sheer scope of government facilities and the many demands people have for them make space planning difficult—at least, not without intuitive tools. Government space planning software helps facility managers keep track of the many moving variables on both sides of the coin: space and demand.

The tools offered by space planning software are invaluable in not only coordinating space, but also in understanding it. Software is intuitive enough to recognize patterns and trends, which can better-inform space planning. For example, if total attendance at the monthly committee meeting consistently hovers at 12 people, it can narrow your focus to spaces designed for groups of this size. Other integrated data also makes space planning more robust. For example, if a polling station in Building A has higher turnout than one in Building B, it might signal convenience or accessibility factors.

Government space planning software brings data into the fold and contextualizes it based on present factors and variables. While facility managers focus on bridging space and demand, software helps them do it efficiently and with clearer purpose.

Keep constituents and government employees happy

Good space planning in government facilities is immediately evident in how they function. Does the courtroom have a defined space for jurors to report and wait? Is the DMV able to keep lines moving? Are there ample spaces for committee meetings at the town hall? Planning space around the needs of different government facilities means thinking about them first from an operational standpoint.

As the functions of facilities become apparent, space planning software becomes crucial in enabling them. It bridges the gap between constituents and the services they need—as well as the government employees charged with administering them.

Keep reading: Five Pillars of Government Facility Management Software

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Space Planning for Schools: A Bird’s Eye View

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator
SpaceIQ

To the untrained eye, a college campus can seem to offer limitless space. Everywhere you look there’s an empty classroom, an unoccupied study nook, or a spare table waiting for someone to sit at it. But just because that space is vacant now doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way for long. To anyone familiar with campus operations, there’s tremendous forethought that goes into space planning for schools. Though space is available in abundance, that doesn’t make it any less of a precious commodity.

Space planning for colleges is what makes it possible for multiple classrooms to house different lectures at different times. It’s what ensures there’s always a spare study table in the union building. Careful space planning is the reason a 20-person sociology class meets in an amphitheater classroom that seats 60. And while not every spatial decision makes sense to students and staff, they’re often part of a grand plan that involves dozens of moving parts and pieces. The goal is to ensure that every learner feels accommodated.

What is space planning for schools, colleges and universities?

Space planning involves designating a space for a particular use. That could mean setting it up for a specific purpose, ensuring it’s available at a certain time, or making it available to a particular group. The core focus of space planning is to ensure the effective and efficient use of a space by the people and purpose it’s intended for.

Below the surface definition, space planning can become extremely complex and nuanced. On a college campus, it could mean anything from outfitting space with the right technology, to making sure spaces are reservable at optimal times. In the broader sense, space planning also means making sure a particular space fits the context of what’s happening around it—not just within it.

Examples of space planning on campuses

Space planning in schools happens at several levels. In a macro sense, shared facilities are open for general use—this means everything from the student union to the library. More specifically, there are classrooms and lecture halls that have specific purposes, but may not serve the same purpose all of the time. Finally, specialized spaces on campus such as labs or research facilities aren’t generally accessible, but still require forethought to plan.

  • General spaces need forethought to accessibility and adaptability. There’s a larger degree of variability in these areas because they’re often inherently multi-purposed. Space planning involves making use of square footage in the most natural way and coordinating accommodations to meet the expectations of those in attendance.
  • Classrooms are subject to space planning in the sense of pairing facilities with demand. For example, you can’t put a class of 50 in a room that only seats 30. It’s also important to consider special features of a room such as A/V equipment, stadium-style seating, a lab-style environment, and more.
  • Specialty spaces generally set a precedent for need. These spaces offer very little opportunity to change because they’re anchored by their design, such as a computer lab or a cafeteria. Space planning around these areas typically involves making them more accessible through techniques such as scheduling or access control.

Within each of these groups there’s a world of unique space types—from study nooks to workshops, labs to dorm rooms. Regardless of space type, it’s important for facility managers to have a plan for who will use the space, how they’ll use it, when they’ll use it, and what the criteria are for governing it.

The benefits of space planning for schools

The chief benefit of space planning for schools is an obvious one: the ability to accommodate learners in any education environment. From large lectures to intimate labs, presentations to guest speakers, marrying form and function into space planning strategy makes for more immersive learning opportunities.

Space planning also gives campus managers a handle on utilization and opportunities to improve it. If there are instances to reduce congestion, improve accessibility, or orchestrate shorter commutes for staff and students, space planning will bring them to the surface. When every space has a purpose, it becomes easier to understand that space in the context of its utilization.

Finally, space planning software is a cornerstone of campus management as a whole. There’s merit in coordinating where classes will take place, at what time, and how many people will attend. It paints a broader picture of the ebb and flow of traffic on campus and helps schedulers orchestrate classes conducive to the broader workings on campus.

Tying space planning with campus operations

To plan space use and availability accordingly, you need to know what you’re planning for. This is where space planning becomes a collaborative effort among campus ops personnel. There’s a concerted effort to coordinate space and schedule, and to do so in a way that’s conducive to accessibility by everyone involved.

It doesn’t make sense for students to trek back and forth with no time between classes, only to wait outside a room that’s occupied right up to the minute before their class begins. Likewise, it’s unwise to schedule certain types of classes in certain spaces that may not accommodate them. Form and function need to agree, which is why facility personnel and campus operations managers need synergy. Space and people need to come together.

While some students will inevitably need to sprint across campus occasionally and a few rooms might get a little crowded, what matters is that the campus as a whole runs like a well-oiled machine for a majority of people, the majority of the time.

Keep reading: Facilities Management Software for Schools

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What is Asset Property Management?

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator
SpaceIQ

There’s plenty of overlap in the world of asset management and property management—after all, property is an asset. That said, asset property management is a confusing concept that overlaps with real estate and portfolio management. To make matters more confusing, there’s also the concept of “property asset management” to consider. It begs the question: what is asset property management?

Facility managers need to get familiar with the concept as part of a broader understanding of how to oversee facilities. Here’s a look at where asset property management falls into context alongside other forms of asset management and property management.

What is asset property management?

Asset property management is part of the spectrum of asset management. It trends toward the macro end of the scale:

  • Asset management involves oversight of assets
  • Property management involves oversight of property
  • Property asset management involves oversight of properties as assets
  • Asset property management involves oversight of assets within properties

The difference between “property asset management” and “asset property management” is largely semantic. Most companies practice both in conjunction with each other, which further adds to the ubiquitous nature of the definition. Moreover, most facility managers and portfolio managers see property and property assets as one in the same. For example, it’s difficult to separate the HVAC system from the building it’s tied to. For all intents and purposes, they’re managed together.

Asset management in the real estate market

There is one important distinction to make when looking at assets within properties and the property itself: one of value. The overall value of real estate comes from many individual factors. In commercial real estate, capital systems play a significant role in the value of the building.

For example, a building that is in great shape but has poor HVAC may cost more in upkeep, raising the total cost of ownership. Conversely, an older building with great HVAC may be worth less, but operates more efficiently. When it comes to evaluating these buildings, portfolio managers need to consider how the assets that govern each property play into the total value of the holding.

Put another way, asset property management plays a big role in portfolio management. If the sum total of capital systems in Building A costs more than the sum total of an identical Building B, it’s a sign of the need for better asset management. The decision to act (or not to act) contributes to the value of that building within the company’s broader real estate portfolio.

Tips for better asset property management

The golden rule for asset property management is to be proactive, as opposed to reactive. While it may seem counterintuitive to spend money up front on maintenance, this ideology manifests in saving asset managers the cost of unanticipated, unexpected repairs.

Similarly, tracking the asset over time is an important part in managing it. Through inclusive asset tracking it’s possible to identify upcoming maintenance, budget for costs, understand cost of ownership, and more. All this factors into keeping capital assets in functional condition.

Finally, it’s important to understand assets in context. Consider a building with an antiquated HVAC system. While it might run smoothly, there’s no guarantee it’s running efficiently, which could cost building operators more than they realize. Moreover, it might contribute to a stuffy atmosphere within the workplace—or worse, Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). Looking at cost and upkeep alone aren’t enough. Asset property management needs to include context.

The goals of property asset management

The goals of asset property management are cost reduction and ROI optimization. Managers need to first justify the cost of an asset, then work to optimize its returns beyond the break-even point. For capital assets within real property, this means looking far ahead at the entire lifespan of an investment.

Take, for example, renovations that upgrade the efficiency of facilities. There’s an immediate cost to undertake these renovations, however, they’ll return value through both the efficiency upgrades and the productivity they enable. The goal of an asset property management approach is to reach that break-even point as quickly as possible, and to enhance the ROI beyond that. This means staying on top of upkeep costs in order to minimize them and understanding how to measure and record ROI.

Ultimately, the role of good asset property management is to extend the life and value of an asset, in order to ensure the ROI reaches the highest levels possible.

Software improves property asset management

As is the case for many modern-day facility metrics, asset property management is best tracked using software. IWMS or CMMS software provide critical insights about the cost of operating facilities—particularly their capital systems. These asset insights lay the groundwork for how much it costs to operate a property and set the benchmark for its performance against other real estate holdings. Moreover, they provide insight into how to better-manage individual property assets.

There’s significant opportunity in treating capital systems and properties like the assets they are within the context of facilities management. The more attention given to the cost, upkeep, ROI, and utilization of assets, the more opportunities are available to better govern them.

Keep reading: Property Asset Management Strategy Plus Goals and Benefits

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Property Asset Management Strategy

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist
SpaceIQ

Strategy is everything in executing a successful plan. This is especially true when considering asset management. Aside from buying, selling, and maintaining assets, it takes a compelling strategy to use them effectively, and to generate expected ROI from them. To understand and foresee the purpose and benefit of assets—especially capital investments—means developing a property asset management strategy.

Property asset management is a difficult endeavor because it often involves an entire committee of decision-makers. Facility managers provide context for the asset. Finance managers bring together the cost details. Maintenance managers deliver life cycle management data. The number of people at the table can grow depending on the asset and investment. Regardless, stakeholders need to come together to create a strategy that ensures maximum ROI on smart investments that offer clear and present benefit.

What is an asset management strategy?

An asset management strategy is the plan for an asset, which encompasses all major phases of ownership: purchase, upkeep, and disposal. It focuses on all major aspects of investment management, including:

  • Budgeting and costing for acquiring and maintaining the asset
  • Ownership and management of the asset within the company
  • Use and utilization, and expected lifespan of the asset
  • Accessibility and integration of the asset into operations
  • Maintenance, upkeep, and repair of the asset

The goal of an asset management strategy is to set goals that optimize the ROI of an investment. In doing so, it’s possible for a company to track the asset’s costs, performance, and other important variables, to ensure it meets expectations. It also delegates responsibility for the asset.

What is property asset management?

The term “asset” can encompass many different things. In the context of “property asset,” it typically refers to a building or property. For example, if a company purchases a small 5,000sq/ft satellite office building, it’s considered a property asset. This is the broadest definition of a property asset, but not the only one. Many companies will also call capital systems “property assets,” such as HVAC, plumbing, and electrical investments.

Considering both definitions, “property asset management” typically refers to asset management for property and essential systems required to keep that property functioning. This, as opposed to more traditional assets, which might include things like equipment items, vehicles, and other non-integrated investments.

What are the benefits of asset management?

The benefits of good property asset management are clear. From a facility standpoint, there’s tremendous ROI available for both employees and companies alike. Employees benefit from facilities that are well-maintained and keep in safe, comfortable, accessible condition. As a result, employees will use the facilities available to them, which justifies their expenditure for companies.

There’s also cost savings to consider. As is the case with most assets, proactive upkeep and maintenance results in a lower cost of ownership over time. Quarterly service on an HVAC system may cost $250 each time ($1,000 annual), but it’s a far more preferrable cost to an emergent $4,000 repair that also affects productivity. Moreover, upkeep costs are predictable, whereas reactive repairs and maintenance are unexpected.

Finally, there are intangibles to consider. Well-maintained property assets tend to evoke a sense of price among employees. Workplace pride encourages everything from a positive mood while at work, to a better caliber of work done, to feelings of loyalty to the company. All these and more add up to benefits for both employee and company—all the result of smart property asset management.

The goals of property asset management

The bottom line in a property asset maintenance strategy is cost justification and ROI optimization. Property assets first need to pay for themselves to justify their cost of ownership. Then anything beyond that becomes ROI, and it’s in the best interest of stakeholders to stretch that ROI as far as it’ll go.

In different context, this is a matter of bottom-line justification and top-line exploitation. Every asset comes at a cost. An asset management strategy is the initiative to reduce the burden of that cost, while maximizing the potential of its benefits.

Consider a very simplified example. If it costs $30,000 to lease an office space annually and another $10,000 to maintain it, total revenue generation needs to exceed $40,000 by a factor of X to justify the cost of ownership. Good property asset management will seek to optimize the space to both increase its revenue generation capabilities and reduce the upkeep costs associated with it.

Software is imperative in property asset management

It’s one thing to have a property asset management strategy. It’s another to continuously benchmark and observe it. Asset management software is an important part in bridging decision-making with expected outcomes, no matter the time horizon.

From the moment of expenditure to the moment you retire an asset or it falls off of your books, it’s important to track as many functional aspects of that asset as possible. What is the cost of ownership? When is the expected break-even point? What’s the upkeep cost and maintenance schedule? Where is that asset right now and what service is it performing? Software makes it possible for all stakeholders to fully understand an asset within the context of a unified management strategy.

Whether it’s a reinvestment in the facilities themselves or a tangible asset tied to them, every asset deserves a management strategy. Every company deserves software that allows them to coordinate and observe that strategy, from cradle to grave.

Keep reading: What is Real Estate Asset Management?