How to Measure IWMS ROI

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

The shift to flexible work and the new desking concepts that support it has led to an even larger reliance on workplace software. Nothing provides support for workplace governance quite like an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). This comprehensive solution for digital workplace management gives facility managers the tools they need to manage a workplace in real-time. Not only that, it’s a window into workplace optimization on a broad array of levels. These benefits and more are evident in IWMS ROI.

IWMS ROI occurs at both top and bottom lines of a company’s balance sheet. The cost savings of an efficient desking concept vs. new opportunities for revenue by enabling employee productivity. Here’s a look at how to measure IWMS ROI through various lenses, depending on how your company utilizes this software.

What is IWMS?

First, a quick recap of the many ways IWMS software touches the different facets of a business’ operations. While IWMS applications vary greatly from organization to organization, the capabilities of these systems are broad. Some of the broad pillars its features encompass include:

  • Space planning and management
  • Workplace and employee experience
  • Real estate optimization and utilization
  • Facilities, maintenance and asset management

IWMS is the digital system through which facility managers can document, observe, oversee, and improve workplaces and facilities at large. It provides powerful reporting capabilities for whatever application it’s deployed to serve—which gives facility managers plenty of opportunity to track its ROI.

Space planning and management

The simplest way to measure the ROI of IWMS software in regard to space planning is to observe classic space-related metrics. Use available data to set the benchmark for these metrics, then peg improvements after IWMS implementation. Some of the core metrics to track include:

  • Capacity, occupancy and density
  • Overall and space-specific utilization rates
  • Cost per head and cost per seat
  • Mobility ratios

Historical data will tell the story of how IWMS insights help facility managers improve these metrics and do more with space. Especially as we enter the era of flex work and a mobile workforce, it becomes more and more important to make sure space meets the needs of companies and users in a cost-efficient way.

Workplace and employee experience

It can be difficult to put a price on employee experience and workplace culture. The best way to peg these benefits is through quantifiable metrics that have costs attributed to them. Say, for example, a company does a Net Promoter Survey and finds that happy employees are 26% more productive than the mean, and unhappy employees are 45% less productive than the mean. Apply these percentages to the revenue generation benchmark per employee to recognize the impact of workplace experience.

Quantifying emotion, opinion, sentiment, and other intangibles can provide insight for IWMS ROI. For example, if workplace sentiment averages 64 out of 100, the mean hourly revenue generated by a sales team might be $50.40. With IWMS improvements to create a more comfortable, supportive work environment, that average rises to 81 out of 100 and revenue of $64.50 per hour. Here, you can say that IWMS ROI in terms of workplace experience equates to $14.10 per hour in new revenue. Real change and real numbers make for meaningful ROI.

Real estate optimization and utilization

Calculating IWMS ROI at the real estate level is easy—chiefly because real estate management is inherently numbers-driven. Attributing ROI is a matter of understanding what changes an IWMS enables and how those changes trickle up to the macro level.

For example, if a new floor plan created through IWMS results in better cost per head, that’s reflected in the high-level ROI of the building within a portfolio. When the time comes to extrapolate positive changes across different locations, that location’s cost per head will come up as a model for broader company efficiency.

IWMS has a direct connection to lease costs and operations. Facility managers can gauge positive trends, cost savings, and new revenue tied to operations after implementing IWMS to see the value of software as a driver of improvements.

Facilities, maintenance and asset management

Asset management is one of the simplest avenues for IWMS ROI calculation. In many cases, it’s as simple as taking maintenance budgets or costs from prior years and comparing them to new strategies enabled by digital asset management tools. If the cost of facilities maintenance drops by 18% year-over-year thanks to proactive action through IWMS, the ROI is the dollar value associated with those saved costs.

There’s also ROI in each instance of smarter decision making. If IWMS data projects $1,000 in annual maintenance costs for a piece of equipment, the decision to use it for three more years makes more sense than to spend $6,000 on a new model. Or, at the very least, there’s an ROI in being able to budget for it.

IWMS ROI transcends dollar values

Calculating IWMS ROI requires companies to look at all the different ways IWMS enables better operations. In some cases, that means operational costs saved. In other situations, it’s the top-line growth made possible by IWMS innovations. Beyond even these facets of ROI, there’s one more to consider: the intangible benefits.

It’s difficult to put a dollar value on happy employees or comfortable workplaces—yet, these are major drivers of ROI. It’s essential to factor in not only the dollar figures that show up on the balance sheet, but also the intangibles that IWMS brings to a smooth-running, well-managed workplace environment.

Keep reading: 8 Benefits of IWMS for Smart Building Management


Eight Benefits of IWMS for Smart Building Management

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

Today’s workplaces operate under the governance of dozens of different devices, programs, and pieces of software. The growing web of IoT devices and their signals helps businesses run efficiently—from the ability to book hot desks to building energy efficiency controls. More and more, companies are tying these many programs into an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). The benefits of IWMS are too great to ignore and too beneficial to overlook.

As a business’ web of essential technologies grows—and its operations become more sophisticated—the IWMS acts as an anchor. It centralizes all the digital operations of the workplace and makes it easy for systems to communicate with each other. The result is what we get when we think of smart buildings: facilities that intuitively support the work that happens in them.

What is IWMS?

An IWMS is, in a sense, an aggregator. It’s a dashboard-based system that pulls information and data from various sources, to provide a clean look at a company’s facilities. This encompasses five core areas of focus (typically):

  • Real estate management
  • Capital project management
  • Facilities management
  • Maintenance management
  • Sustainability initiatives

In smart buildings with robust IoT networks, the IWMS becomes even more powerful. Rather than relying on user input or manual entry data, the IWMS pulls from as many inputs as there are data-generating sources. The result is a clear, real-time, comprehensive look at the many aspects of business operation.

The benefits of implementing an IWMS system

What are the benefits of an integrated workplace management system (IWMS)? Here’s a look at eight of the most important and their role in smart building management:

  1. Simplifies the IoT. The IWMS aggregates IoT data into a dashboard for meaningful insights. This not only de-silos critical workplace data, it also contextualizes that data in regard to the five core areas of operational focus. IoT data has meaning in an IWMS, which lends itself to powerful insights and better decision-making.
  2. Integrates digital processes. As the web of connected business technologies grows, IWMS centralizes the information it yields. IWMS can connect everything from a fleet of data-generating IoT devices, to a hoteling management platform, to processes for support ticketing.
  3. Highlight efficiency opportunities. Because everything flows through the IWMS, there’s data and metrics to support better facility oversight. Facility managers can identify trends, problems, or projections to understand opportunities for improvement. This, without needing to comb multiple different programs or datasets.
  4. Helps manage costs. One of the most important functions of an IWMS in a smart building is attaching fixed costs to dynamic action. For example, if you know how much a kilowatt hour costs, lighting sensors can show you how much you’re paying (and saving) through smarter operation.
  5. Streamlines new initiatives. Smart buildings are dynamic. Their needs and uses change frequently, which makes it important to chart these new initiatives in a system that tracks and manages the many measurable aspects of facilities. IWMS takes the information from a smart building and makes it easier to apply to action and new initiatives.
  6. Provides insightful reporting. As mentioned, IWMS is a dashboard. It provides vital operational insights at a glance—insights made more accurate and informative by smart building technologies. While the IoT quantifies the physical workplace, IWMS aggregates that data to qualify aspects of its operation.
  7. Improves business transparency. The more accessible information stakeholders can access about facilities and operations, the more transparency there is in managing them. Clear and present data in an IWMS provides a clear and present call to action for how to manage facilities and the people within them.
  8. Keeps companies compliant. From occupancy standards to emergency preparedness, companies need to stay compliant with worker safety mandates. Access to digital floor plans, scenarios, and workplace data in an IWMS delivers the insights necessary to maintain compliance.

IWMS software provides context for smart building management. The office IoT, digital twin, and integrated software all connect with the IWMS to create real value. Facility managers can collect data, sync processes, understand the workplace better, and take meaningful steps to improve it. The IWMS harnesses building management into one central system.

Smart buildings need smart management

The smarter a building is, the more support it’s able to provide to employees and operations. But that intelligence demands more oversight. An IWMS is a facility manager’s best opportunity to harness the complex processes associated with intelligent buildings and make sure they result in meaningful contributions to the workplace. From desk booking to climate control, support ticketing to vendor management, an IWMS makes managing smart buildings simple.

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


What is Real Estate Asset Management?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

Many enterprise companies employ a team of professionals to manage their real estate portfolios. It’s because real estate is an asset that companies can optimize and leverage into broader goals. But what is real estate asset management, really? What does it mean to treat real estate like an asset vs. a practical, functional space?

The role of a real estate asset manager is to maximize the value and return on property from an investment standpoint. In the same way companies monitor the performance of employees or departments and their contribution to success, real estate asset managers develop the criteria for real estate return on investment.

What is asset management?

To understand real estate as an asset, it’s best to define what an asset is. The simplest definition of an asset is “anything of value or a resource of value that can be converted into cash.” From a business standpoint, the definition becomes more specific. “Assets are reported on a company’s balance sheet and are bought or created to increase a firm’s value or benefit the firm’s operations.”

Using this definition, often businesses choose to evaluate real estate as an asset. How do facilities contribute to the company’s bottom line? What is the ROI on office space? What is the intrinsic value of facilities vs. their current market valuation? There’s no limit to the number of questions businesses can ask from an asset evaluation standpoint. Each answer matters in the scope of real estate asset management.

Core tenants of real estate asset management

Looking at real estate as an asset means shifting focus to managing it like an asset. The core tenants of asset management are all about optimizing returns, minimizing risk, and reducing expense. For real estate, it’s no different.

  • Optimizing revenue: What is the cost of facilities vs. the revenue they generate? Are there ways to increase revenue through reinvestment in facilities? What is the total ROI on facilities over time? These questions and countless others are the focus of revenue-minded asset managers.
  • Risk management: What risks are inherent to facilities and how can companies manage them? What is the debt risk of property on the balance sheet? What liability and insurance costs accompany facilities? Managers who identify and mitigate risk improve the ROI of real estate.
  • Reducing expenditures: Can the company consolidate facilities and maintain revenue output? Are in-house or contracted maintenance services more cost-efficient? What lease negotiations will reduce monthly/annual costs? Cutting the bottom line is an efficient way to boost the performance of real estate as an asset.

Being mindful of real estate as an asset allows managers to tell a factual story of how a property contributes to the company. Asset management breaks it down into costs and expenditures, revenue opportunities and risks, and other intrinsic values that benefit the company—and it does so in dollars and cents.

Data accumulation and presentation

Quantifying real estate as an asset is only the first part of the job. Real estate asset managers need to take that data and contextualize it for portfolio managers, executives, and other stakeholders, so that they can make high-level decisions about broad real estate strategy. To do this requires access to a real estate forecasting dashboard.

Today’s Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) software provide real-time insights to asset managers who need up-to-date information. Lease tools, cost projections, accrued YTD costs, and countless other variables come together in a property-specific picture of real estate and its contribution to the company’s financial standings (and outlook). Real estate asset managers use this data to generate reports and forecast models as a source of truth for those in the position to make decisions.

As real estate asset managers do this for multiple properties, it paints a clear picture of portfolio performance. From there, portfolio performance can be a deciding factor in top-down decisions—such as the decision to expand to a new facility or the shift to permanent remote work and downsize facilities. It all depends on the tale of the data and the direction of the company.

Real estate asset management comes into focus

Treating real estate as an asset yields tremendous insight into its quantitative values. This is paramount when it comes to forecasting and decision-making surrounding facilities, and it provides even better context for the qualitative benefits of maintaining a physical workspace.

As companies begin to look at their real estate portfolios post-COVID-19, asset-based observations will be among the most important they make. Executives and other high-level decision-makers want to see, in plain numbers, how real estate contributes to success. Real estate asset managers hold the keys to providing this data.

Keep reading: Real Estate Asset Management Certification


What Does a Real Estate Portfolio Manager Do?

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

Enterprise companies with multiple real estate holdings have a lot of money tied up in static assets. As such, it’s critical for someone to monitor these assets to make sure they continue to generate revenue and other means of substantive ROI. This task falls to real estate portfolio managers—the people on the front lines of ensuring company properties align with mission-critical operations.

While facility managers oversee individual pieces of property and real estate asset managers examine them from an ROI standpoint, real estate portfolios are the true decision-makers of how to leverage all properties into company success.

What is a real estate portfolio manager?

Like you might pay someone to manage an investment portfolio of stocks, bonds, cash, and equities, in the corporate world, a real estate portfolio manager focuses on the properties owned and leased by a company. Their goal is to make sure the sum value of the properties—both their tangible worth and their contributions to operations—benefit a company.

Portfolio managers determine how facilities fit within the growth strategy of the company. They’re charged with looking at how the company’s resources are allocated, what risk real property poses for the company, and how to best leverage individual properties for greater portfolio performance.


Chief tasks of a portfolio manager

Because they deal with the performance of an entire portfolio of properties, the role of portfolio managers shifts to broader considerations. They may make decisions affecting specific properties, but they do so with the intent to affect better performance for the portfolio at large. Some of the chief tasks they’re engaged in include:

  • Asset allocation: Real estate is an asset, but there are smaller assets within each property that contribute to its revenue output. Allocation of assets—including budgeted capital—can affect the performance of a portfolio by enhancing the revenue-generating capabilities of specific properties. The simplest example might mean moving unused assets from Location A to Location B, where they become part of a revenue stream.
  • Risk adjustment: Real estate carries risk. As an asset, that risk manifests in the form of debt on a balance sheet. The job of a portfolio manager is to ensure the collective ROI of properties is enough to outweigh their risk, and to understand which properties in the portfolio are riskier vs. safer. Risk adjustment can involve making decisions like where to allocate funds for capital improvements, to mitigate the risk of future costs.
  • Transaction supervision: Similar to a securities portfolio, properties may enter or leave the fold of a real estate portfolio. As they do, a portfolio manager needs to see that they’re purchased and divested the right way. This can involve everything from overseeing the financial transaction to receiving or divesting the property as an asset on the balance sheet.
  • Execution of asset strategy: Real estate needs to align with the company’s goals and trajectory, and serve to move it forward. It’s the job of real estate portfolio managers to make sure real estate serves its intended purpose, whether that’s solely revenue production or strategic goals. When real estate and company goals align, the business can move forward with a cohesive operational strategy.

All these tasks lay the groundwork for one final, critical objective: to liaise with executives and other stakeholders and support data-backed decision-making involving real estate. Portfolio managers work to understand the effect of company decisions on real estate, as well as relay real estate information to help influence those decisions.

Real estate portfolio manager software

Real estate portfolio management is quantitative. Managers need access to the vital insights and data streams that contextualize the decisions they make. While they can get much of it from real estate asset managers, much of that data comes from software.

When examining a collection of portfolios across different building types, geographic areas, property sizes, and other variables, data becomes a source of truth in decision-making. With clean, organized, reliable data from various property funnels at their disposal, it’s easy for managers to delve into the portfolio with a mind for each property and its contribution to the whole.

What do real estate portfolio managers do?

In a nutshell, real estate portfolio managers make sure a company’s investment in property is worth the ROI is offers. Rather than dissecting the microcosm of any individual property, portfolio managers make higher-level decisions that affect the company at large—decisions like whether to move headquarters, consolidate facilities, or buy vs. lease a property. Most important, they juxtapose real property to the business in fundamental ways that allow for better decision-making.

Keep reading: What Can You Do with Real Estate Analytics?

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Real Estate Asset Management Certification

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

Professionals handling corporate real estate need proof of concept—something that shows they understand the nuances of managing property at the enterprise level. Alongside experience and formal education, real estate asset management certification is a major indicator of competency and capability when it comes to overseeing real property.

No matter the path they take to get there, certification is an important indicator in the abilities of a real estate asset manager. It’s also a sound investment for companies, with the expectation that certified real estate asset managers will affect change that improves the ROI of property.

What is real estate asset management?

Real estate asset management involves treating corporate real estate as an asset—something that adds value to the balance sheet or benefit’s the company’s operations. Instead of looking at the needs of facilities, it looks at how facilities contribute to the success of the company through a fiscal lens. In many ways, real estate asset management bisects property management and financial focuses, which makes it important to staff a professional who can liaise between these core focuses.

Looking at real estate as an asset means managing it like an asset. To do this, a real estate asset manager needs to focus on three key areas of asset optimization:

  • Revenue generation.
  • Risk mitigation
  • Cost or loss savings

Within these three areas of focus is a world of opportunities and possibilities. Real estate asset management certification courses are where professionals learn to identify and capitalize on them. They learn the skills to approach real estate asset management from both property and finance standpoints, to make decisions that benefit both.

Real estate asset management courses

While some universities and higher learning institutions offer classes devoted to real estate asset management, they’re often lacking. They often provide great fundamentals for finance and real estate as an asset, but they gloss over the nuances of what a career in real estate asset management actually entails. The rare real estate asset management course may cover these duties in depth, but a class is far short of a curriculum.

Certificate programs exist to provide that missing curriculum. These programs drill down into specifics and cover not just fundamentals, but current standards, practices, trends, and philosophies. And, because they’re consolidated into several weeks or months, they’re an agile learning opportunity for a niche role in real estate management.

Where to get certified

Certification is best-earned from industry organizations or reputable secondary education institutions. There are several organizations devoted to real estate asset management and peripheral areas of focus, and each offers some form of certification consistent with industry best practices:

Professionals with one or more of these certifications are ready to step into an asset management role and govern facilities from a cost-benefit and revenue-generation standpoint. Best of all, certification programs like these frequently add extensions, modules, and refreshers to keep industry best practices current.

Real estate asset management online training

The beauty of most real estate asset management certification programs is that they’re completed online, at the pace of the person taking them. This makes certification a great opportunity for business professionals near to real estate asset management, or those who want to pursue it. In many cases, these courses are a good ongoing education investment for companies to make in their employees, and may manifest in direct ROI from well-managed real estate assets.

The benefits of certification are clear

Certification doesn’t just show core competency on the part of a real estate asset manager—it also helps them do their job better. Specialized programs and training courses devoted to asset management give property professionals unique insights not learned on any traditional career track. It goes beyond understanding real estate as an asset; it’s about understanding real estate as an asset to the business and its mission. Certification connects the dots in a way that manifests in a stronger, more cohesive real estate management strategy.

Keep reading: Ins and Outs of Facility Management Certification


Six Reasons to Use Real Estate Asset Management Software

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

The question on every corporate executive’s mind is whether to downsize, scale back, or consolidate the company’s real estate portfolio. This is especially important in a post-coronavirus world as the workplace undergoes yet another change. As real estate managers forecast the future, they need quantifiable data about facilities. Real estate asset management software can provide this data and the insights that contextualize it.

Here’s a look at six of the most important reasons real estate managers need asset management software and the benefits it provides.

1. 1,000-foot view of properties

Asset managers need to understand each property from a cost-benefit standpoint. That means looking from the top down, to see the factors that make up both sides of this equation. It’s easy to look at fixed costs on a balance sheet—asset management software provides additional insights that contextualize those larger figures.

A broad view of facility costs and revenue becomes particularly handy for higher-level decision-making about property-specific changes. What’s the current cost per square foot vs. occupancy vs. revenue? How do maintenance costs factor into total cost of ownership? The answers to these questions and dozens of others provide broad context for facilities, which lends credence to them as assets.

2. Quantifiable financial metrics

In the scope of portfolio decision-making, what does a real estate asset manager do? In simplest terms, they provide quantifiable insights for executives and other stakeholders. That means delivering real estate data and information in the form of key company success metrics. These insights aren’t always easy to come by, which is what makes real estate asset management software so vital.

With the proper infrastructure, asset management reporting software will deliver core company metrics available at a glance. This can include the cost of the lease and annual maintenance, month-over-month spend on facilities, revenue performance by location, and much more. These are the figures decision-makers want to see as they contemplate the future of facilities.

3. Asset-based insights

It’s easy to delineate the many functions of a property. A real estate asset manager faces the task of quantifying these functions and understanding them in the context of an asset. Asset-based insights are what C-suite executives and portfolio managers want as they make decisions about the direction of a company. Asset-based insights and their contribution to financial metrics are what aid in that decision-making.

Each asset-based insight creates an opportunity for asset optimization. Can you cut costs here? Realize new revenue opportunities there? Defining the various monetary contributors to real property’s place on the balance sheet unlocks the potential to modify them.

4. Forecasting, simplified

Real estate asset management software might tell you that a facility is operating far above capacity and generating less profit than a comparable property. Or, it might show that the maintenance costs of an old building make it a drag on the balance sheet. In these situations, available data promotes better forecasting. It’s about using the data you have now to make ROI-driven decisions about real estate for the future.

Forecasting using real estate asset management software can aid in everything from budgeting to asset planning. If companies can see the role of their facilities far into the future, they’re more equipped to make confident decisions about them in the present.

5. Contextualize workforce distribution

Asset management isn’t only about managing the asset itself—it also involves who (or what) interacts with it. In the case of corporate real estate as an asset, that means looking at workforce distribution. Real estate software readily provides this data, including data for capacity, occupation, cost per head, and other workforce-specific costs and figures.

As companies manage assets, they need to do so with the workforce in mind. After all, the core purpose of facilities is to support the people working within them. Treating real estate like an asset means considering ROI from a workforce standpoint, which means contextualizing the workforce across real estate holdings.

6. Generate reports, shareable insights

What is real estate asset management without contextual reports? Just like a securities manager might look at a candlestick chart before acting on a position, asset managers need to compile, organize, and contextualize data. This is a herculean effort without real estate asset management software. Thanks to machine learning and automation, most modern software is smart enough to aggregate and deliver the insights most important to managers—including cross-examining cost data with non-financial metrics.

Rely on the convenience of software insights

These benefits all add up to something invaluable: asset-based insights about real estate. Looking at real estate through an asset evaluation lens can provide crucial insight for portfolio managers, executives, and other stakeholders as they determine the right path forward for their real estate holdings and facilities. The simplest way to get these insights? Real estate asset management software.

Keep reading: How Agile is Your Real Estate?


Real Estate Planning and Execution: Answering Questions About the Future

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

COVID-19 has left businesses with new questions, new challenges, and a new way forward—especially when it comes to their workplaces. Many companies dabbled in remote work and plan to stay that way; others are already back at work in person; still more will explore a flex work strategy. These considerations and more form the foundation for a new era of real estate planning and execution.

What role does real estate play in operations now?

Not many years ago, a change to the tax code put corporate leases on the balance sheet. FASB Lease Accounting Standard (ASU 2016-02) forced companies to change the way they account for the physical workspace. It was a painful adjustment for many. Now, after COVID-19, many companies carry the cost of their workplace on the balance sheet, but aren’t utilizing facilities in the same way. It calls for a new corporate real estate strategy.

On the surface, the simple solution is to cut costs by cutting facilities. But the simplest solution isn’t always the best one. Instead, companies need to ask themselves a series of questions designed to contextualize real estate within the broader company plan.

Consolidate or optimize current facilities?

For companies with sprawling facilities, the first question in real estate planning is consolidation vs. optimization. It’s important to look at how the space was used before the pandemic and what the prospects are after the pandemic.

For example, facilities with a capacity of 500 before the pandemic may only have space for 300 with new distancing guidelines. If your workforce of 400 is largely staying remote, consolidation might be the best answer. If you’re transitioning to flex work, optimization to accommodate these 400 employees and their unpredictable shifts becomes necessary.

This, of course, comes against the backdrop of cost. Consolidating facilities may save you money outright, but put you at an occupancy disadvantage. Optimizing may not result in immediate cost savings, but could equate to long-term value and cost efficiency.

Centralized or decentralized workspaces?

For companies with a broad real estate portfolio, there are macro questions to answer. If you have three offices in the Houston Metro area, do you still need all three? If your Seattle employees are all remote, do you still need a satellite office there? It’s vital to look at where your workforce and facilities are, and the new relationship they have with each other. It’s likely there are opportunities for change.

In some cases, it may mean consolidating offices within the same city or region. In others, it might mean splitting one corporate office into several satellites. In situations where the whole workforce is remote, it might mean major downsizing to the office or location. Real estate managers need to look at it through the lens of workforce and decide on a decentralized or centralized strategy.

Own, lease or divest?

The final question real estate managers need to ask is what their relationship with facilities needs to be. To answer it, it’s best to rely on insights from real estate forecasting software, such as predictions for workforce growth, cost burdens, and operational figures. Ultimately, the question comes down to ownership vs. leasing.

Most businesses, even large businesses, lease their space. This lease obligation appears on the wrong side of the balance sheet and can heavily affect the financials of the company. For those businesses that do own, there’s the benefit of an asset on the balance sheet—and the tax depreciation that comes with it. Should your business continue to lease? Is this the year that you build or buy? Or, if you’re leaning toward remote work, is it time to divest?

This is perhaps the biggest decision real estate managers need to make. Any long-term decisions they’ll make about facilities are rooted in whether the business owns or leases the place employees call home. This relationship is an important one to distinguish not only now, but for long-term planning and budgeting.

Reassess and strategize for the future

Despite the changes to when, how, and where we work, corporate real estate is still an asset. Leveraged accordingly in this new post-pandemic world, companies can put the real estate on their balance sheet to work in newer, better ways, to justify the cost and maximize the potential.

In some cases, downsizing and divesting will make sense. In other situations, central workplaces will becomemore important for decentralized workers. These realizations need to be the governing factors in company real estate planning for the future. Start by asking the above questions.

Keep reading: 3 Corporate Real Estate Trends To Focus On

Workplace Thought Leadership

The Next Normal in a Post-Pandemic Workspace

By Nai Kanell
Vice President of Marketing

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

Rule and Regulation Compliance

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

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

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

Masking, Sanitation, and Social Distancing

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

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

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

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

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

Technology and Real Estate Optimization

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

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

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

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

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

The Next Normal is Now

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

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

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

Keep Reading: COVID-19 Workplace Resources

Workplace Thought Leadership

How Design Urgency Can Save Your Workplace

By Nai Kanell
Vice President of Marketing

Businesses today have greater motivation to align their workplace design with operational excellence. The 9-to-5 work model has long been on its way out, but recent global events have likely made it history.

How can companies reshape their space utilization to support rapidly evolving work modes? By designing agile workspaces that can pivot quickly. Savvy businesses are adopting a sense of design urgency that reframes their workplace as a strategic asset.

The importance of workplace design

Workplace professionals have an economic incentive to get creative with their spaces. It’s not only sweeping impacts such as COVID-19 and natural disasters that put a spotlight on property costs. Commercial leases represent a major investment, anywhere from $158 per square foot in Minneapolis to nearly $600 per square foot in Washington, D.C. Tech giants like Twitter and Facebook are also reevaluating if distributed teams are a better way to recruit global talent. Businesses are feeling the pressure from all sides to optimize their workplace layouts.

There will be a time in the near future when buildings aren’t standing idle due to social distancing—now is an ideal moment to reimagine your workplace design.

In a post-pandemic world, companies will have the opportunity to reevaluate all facets of their operations. Space utilization should be at the forefront of those conversations. Even though some people prefer to work remotely, the majority are eager to come back to the office. Many employees are more productive and satisfied when they can collaborate and share ideas in person. And most want the best of both worlds—be in the office to collaborate but have the flexibility to work from home when the plumber comes to fix a leaky pipe.

“Strategic uncertainty can feel like slogging through mud. Even so, companies often succeed or fail based on their managers’ ability to move the organization forward precisely at times when the path ahead is hazy,” according to Lisa Lai of the Harvard Business Review.

Design urgency starts by aligning business objectives with space utilization. But do leaders know what those objectives are? Are they looking to enhance productivity, increase collaboration, inspire visitors, attract talent, improve retention, showcase your brand, or simply house people? One or any combination of these goals determine the urgency needed to shape your design.

“Without clearly articulated goals for collaboration and productivity, an office redesign will hit roadblocks. Your business goals should be organized and qualifiable, which is why making decisions based on data is key to achieving improved work culture and team collaboration,” according to the Propmodo article Smart Office Design Starts with Proven Data—And Not Copying Google.

Your future workplace: 10 proactive ideas

Your workplace should be like Madonna or Coca-Cola—always reinventing itself. A dynamic floor plan makes it easier to adapt to evolving business needs. Otherwise, a static layout could be at odds with your strategic objectives.

“One of the fundamental challenges of the modern open office (or really, the office in general) is that it prescribes the use of space instead of providing a spatial canvas for employees to use as they see fit. There is no flexibility,” according to Propmodo.

Start by identifying square footage that can be repurposed to serve a wider variety of uses. Creative ideas can include:

  1. Consolidate square footage so a portion can be turned into sublease space
  2. Create multifunctional spaces, especially for collaboration
  3. Add more breakout spots with open layouts to encourage huddles
  4. Evaluate the need for private offices or if they be can booking-only options
  5. Repurpose cafeterias into hot desks or hotel spaces outside of lunch hours
  6. Transform cafeterias into a temporary town hall space by including A/V equipment and moveable stadium seating
  7. Free up dedicated desks and offices that are used infrequently by traveling staff
  8. Use shared seating for part-time employees; have teams split time between remote and on-site work in alternating shifts
  9. Allow a portion of your workforce to work from home
  10. Lease large kitchens and board rooms to outside companies for social gatherings, meetings, and other events

How do you know if any of these modifications will work? Design urgency doesn’t mean acting impetuously and throwing spaghetti against the wall. All layout decisions should be based on usage data and utilization trend analysis to ensure new workplace strategies are the right fit.

You also don’t need to make sweeping changes all at once. It’s better to introduce a new layout in one department and measure outcomes before iterating across the entire company. For example, one team may benefit from small huddle rooms while another team actually needs large conference spaces.

Design urgency and flexibility allows your company to maximize your workplace despite impacts from market shifts, pandemics, or unforeseen change. Whether it’s an expiring lease, a new business direction, or a change in workforce needs, design urgency with space utilization in mind should help your company move forward, not hold it back. It’s all about designing for now and the future.

Keep Reading: Relying on your senses to increase workplace productivity