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Workplace Thought Leadership

Corporate Social Responsibility: New Expectation for Business 

By Steve Segarra
Chief Technical Officer
SpaceIQ

Employees expect more from their jobs than a paycheck. Some are after greater flexibility while others are looking for a closer fit to their social and ethical values. Shareholders expect organizations to be profitable but also to contribute to their communities in positive ways. Business leaders likely have witnessed these shifts first-hand and maybe even been tasked with helping their organization evolve.

As the number of vaccinated individuals increases and companies find their way back to the office, it’s hard to ignore how the corporate landscape is changing. Forbes predicts a “great resignation” where many employees will start looking for a new job in the next few months. In fact, the Labor Department reported that nearly 4 million Americans quit their jobs in April alone. 

In a 2019 Gallup study; Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers all rated, “having an ethical leadership” among the top three things they look for in an employer. The older generations likely associate this with the personal character of their leaders while younger employees are concerned with how a company impacts people and the planet. According to the study, Gen Z and younger Millennials (who now make up 46% of the full-time U.S. workforce) “expect bold action [from their employer] to address moral blind spots…they want to know that the work they are doing has a net positive impact on human beings and the natural world.” 

Those values are at the core of corporate social responsibility. There’s no denying that it’s a job-seeker’s market so it’s imperative that companies create the kind of work environment that attracts and retains the best talent, optimizes existing resources, and drives better performance from every asset – including employees. 

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Investopedia defines corporate social responsibility (CSR) as:

“…practices and policies undertaken by corporations that are intended to have a positive influence on the world. The key idea behind CSR is for corporations to pursue other pro-social objectives, in addition to maximizing profits.” 

That said, not all companies can approach CSR the same way. It is important to know what niche your company occupies and what existing and future employees expect. 

A great example is how Bloomberg L.P. responded in its 2020 Impact Report:

“Governments are eager to respond to the fallout from the pandemic in ways that make their economies stronger, more sustainable and more resilient. Business leaders recognize the risks they face and understand that the same steps that cut carbon emissions also help to spur growth and promote stability. The year ahead can set the stage for a decade of transformational change—but only if we act boldly and urgently.” 

In the past few decades, more business leaders have recognized a need to do more than maximize profits for shareholders and executives. In order to remain relevant and competitive, they have embraced a social responsibility to do what’s best for their company, community, society at large, and the planet. 

Five Reasons for Embracing CSR

Implementing strong corporate social responsibility initiatives may improve overall business by: 

  1. Giving new and existing employees confidence that they are part of an organization that is socially responsible. A 2016 study showed 55% of employees would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if it meant a lower salary.
  2. Creating a work environment that is safe and healthy for employees. According to a Project ROI Study, your CSR program could increase employee engagement by up to 7.5%, increase employee productivity by 13%, and reduce employee turnover by 50%.
  3. Minimizing your organization’s environmental impact, which can lead to greater overall financial stability. Starbucks began its rollout of the “strawless lid” in 2020 and is working to be 100% strawless in its more than 29,000 stores worldwide.
  4. Strengthening customer loyalty by showing a commitment to social and environmental responsibility. In a 2017 study, 76% of consumers say they will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.
  5. Bolstering your corporate image, building your brand, improving morale, and increasing job satisfaction. Fast Company named its top 10 most innovative CSR companies of 2021. 

Implementing CSR Initiatives with Integrated Tech

Where does an organization start? Your CSR strategy could start slowly, focusing on just compliance or sustainability. Or the focus can be on energy management and using building resources more efficiently. If safety is your greatest concern, you may start with waste management, hazard abatement, and managing hazardous materials to better support employee health and wellbeing. 

Whatever the priority, technology like an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) enables you to start simple and evolve into a strategy that puts your organization at the forefront of innovation. An IWMS helps keep operations running efficiently and nurture an environment that lets employees do their best work.

A powerful IWMS provides myriad functions and features to support CSR goals: 

  1. Compliance – Helps keep facilities and employees compliant with regulations to mitigate risk, maintain safe environments, and reduce administrative burdens. 
  2. Sustainability – Recognizes the strategic value of reducing carbon footprints to protect the environment and enhance a company’s bottom line. 
  3. Energy Management – Provides the means to easily aggregate, evaluate, and optimize energy and utility spending decisions to reduce unnecessary consumption and costs. 
  4. Green Buildings – Aids in delivering the information framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and managing the environmental sustainability certification and recertification process. 
  5. Waste Management – Provides a streamlined and integrated approach to tracking, managing, and reducing both hazardous and non-hazardous waste. 
  6. Hazard Abatement – Helps protect the health of building occupants, minimize organizational liability, and avoid costly fines or possible litigation. 
  7. Hazardous Materials – Supports facilities managers in safely handling toxic products, verifying compliance with various regulations, and informing first responders where those hazardous materials are stored and what they may encounter during an emergency.  

And let’s not forget the impact the pandemic has had on real estate portfolios. Some organizations are cutting their carbon footprint by cutting back on their space. According to the Paris Climate Agreement, we must eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment by 2040. Buildings generate almost 40% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. An IWMS can help these organizations easily right-size their portfolios.

Corporate Social Responsibility: No Longer Optional

There is little doubt that CSR programs have a place in every organization. The number of companies implementing CSR plans increases by the year. A Harvard Business School report found that in 2011, less than 20% of S&P 500 companies were charting their efforts related to CSR and sustainability. In 2014, it soared to 75% and jumped to 90% in 2019. 

Creating and implementing initiatives with a mission to improve people’s lives, the Earth, and its resources is a new standard to which investors, employees, and consumers are holding organizations. And as a business leader, your responsibility to actualize these plans is no small feat. The right kind of technology can make all the difference to your success. 

Organizations are quickly evolving to meet the high expectations of doing business amidst a global crisis. They must adapt business models, hire and retain top talent, and give back to their communities in meaningful ways in order to stay successful and relevant. If you are implementing or reinventing your organization’s CSR plans, click here to learn more about how an IWMS supports the social and moral values employees have come to expect from today’s businesses. 

Keep reading: What is IWMS Software?

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Workplace Thought Leadership

Hybrid and Smart: Building the Workplaces of the Future 

By Michael Picini
Senior Executive Director
Cognitive Corp.

Now, perhaps more than ever, employers are seeking to enhance their approach to the workplace experience. They are embracing new trends, such as hybrid structures and smart buildings, to create what we like to call “digital workplace euphoria.”

Euphoria may seem like hyperbole, but happy employees make for successful businesses. We’re not talking about amenities like ping pong tables, free Friday lunches, and in-office theaters. The goal of a euphoric workplace is to transform barely there connected offices to intelligent, autonomous ecosystems that empower employees to their most productive and efficient while maintaining healthy work-life balances.

Research indicates that we are seeing much more of a radical change among companies reacting to the workplace trends. Leaders in companies may not respond to every human or occupant need, but certainly, they are reacting to create a more automated workplace for agile teams. One part of the “why” for proactive movement toward hybrid agile is the long-term impact on business.

Many companies are going through significant financial losses due to COVID-19. How companies navigate digital disruption will likely affect their revenues and future operations. During the crisis of the companies who saw a 25% growth in the revenues 72% were first to experiment with new technologies. As well, 67% of those companies invested more in digital-related expenditures, according to a 2020 report by McKinsey. The companies that had not taken steps are electing to embrace the productivity associated with remote work to help them recoup those costs of not doing so in the past.

Certain financial dependencies, like expiring office leases and stakeholder pressures, are pushing companies to make an immediate decision on how to proceed with digital based investments to create work environments conducive to agile work, from anywhere. According to a Gartner survey, 38% of tech, media, and telecom business leaders (and 26% of leaders across all represented industries) reported plans to reduce their real estate footprint by, for example, closing retail locations. Gartner also reported that 74% of CFOs and finance leaders at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions after COVID-19.

Why Companies Choose to Go Hybrid

Remote and hybrid work is not new, but it certainly hasn’t been as widespread as it is now. According to a Microsoft report, some professions have been trending toward remote work since the oil crisis of the 1970s that resulted in substantially higher commuting and automotive costs. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic drove a “profound increase in the magnitude and speed of the shift toward remote work, with 88% of organizations from around the world surveyed in March [2020] reporting that they were encouraging employees to work from home,” the report noted. More than a third of U.S. workers transitioned to remote or hybrid work between March and April 2020 alone.

Aside from the long-term impact on fiscal reports, this mass transition away from the confines of a 9-to-5 physical office is the other part of the “why” for companies looking to improve three key facets of the digital workplace: people, space, and technology.

The Workplace Mantra: People, Space, and Technology

Creating an environment for employees – or an investor’s case, tenants – that elicits a sense of euphoria is challenging but not impossible. How are companies tackling the digital workplace? There are three elements of an optimized workplace that one should consider.

The first starts with people. People form the community within an organization that will serve as the litmus test for successful digital workplace implementation.

The second element is technology, which acts as the catalyst for change and encompasses each tier of the Smart Building Maturity Model. Most buildings fall somewhere in between the connected and intelligent spaces of the model. From the Internet of Things (IoT) to artificial intelligence (AI), the infrastructure created by technology ultimately makes up the third element of an enhanced workplace: space.

Space doesn’t always refer to a physical location; it relates to the context in which people are working. Space can mean a geographically distributed footprint, flexible hoteling and co-working spaces within your organization, or a scalable real estate portfolio that allows you to set your physical and virtual space settings in a manner that best suits your internal method of operating.

Georgia-Pacific (GP) is one company that has fully embraced all three spheres of the optimized workplace, and by the way is one of the companies that experimented with digital based agile work long before the COVID-19 crisis. The Atlanta-based maker of paper, packaging, building products, and related chemicals resides in an iconic office tower. In the first major renovation since the company occupied the tower in 1982, GP aimed to achieve “optimal integration, functionality, cost and efficiency among the various systems throughout each floor – lighting, HVAC, audio-visual and room scheduling systems,” according to a company press release. The digital building transformation included an Internet of Things (IoT) foundation that resulted in economically feasible, purposeful automation carefully constructed for GP’s user base.

GP reported that the building uses “bio-dynamic (circadian) lighting in the office and collaboration areas, driven by network-connected lighting management. [GP] will respond to peak electrical demands by adjusting building systems. The interconnected system allows the company to collect accurate, real-time data to understand how the space is used, improve employee productivity and satisfaction, and increase real estate investment.”

Along with commercial offices, hospitality and education are two other industries that are exceptionally receptive to similar methods of in-house automation. Fortunately, platforms offered by companies like SpaceIQ offer businesses of all sizes and types of options to create digital workplaces that support agility and flexibility.

Hybrid Strategies for Working “Smart” and Hard

For many companies, leveraging hybrid strategies starts with creating smart buildings and workplaces.

Smart building(s) – both as a verb and a noun – is a partner of hybrid workplaces at the heart of the “next normal” regarding the future of work. Over the last year, companies worldwide have experienced a rapid shift to long-term hybrid and/or remote environments. From Human Resources (HR) to Information Technology (IT) to Marketing and beyond, the functional teams within these organizations are being driven to review their existing work practices and confirm that they align with employees’ current needs.

For some companies, this process may feel like an uncertain scramble – but it shouldn’t.

This moment presents an opportunity for organizations to revise their digital framework and create an even better workplace experience – one that encourages a positive return-to-office transition after a yearlong hiatus or, for remote and hybrid workers, a structure that compels them to engage virtually. Smart building is critical for both employees and executives to tap into the human side of work and reach peak satisfaction in the process of doing so.

As a company specializing in “smart building,” Cognitive Corp is at the forefront of researching and analyzing workplace trends and technologies that impact commercial real estate (CRE) teams.

So, what do we mean by “smart building?” In a word, automation.

Smart building implies that a company has a built-in infrastructure to automate as many day-to-day and long-term tasks as possible. Infrastructure can include IT and networks, HVAC, lighting, time-tracking, scheduling, and anything in between that has a digital footprint.

A key strategy is to distribute the levels of automation and smart building into four tiers on a visual pyramid called the Smart Building Maturity Model. This model helps companies prioritize based on current needs and future growth:

  • Connected Building: Connected building forms the foundation at the bottom of the pyramid. Most companies fall into this category, which includes basic IT networks and the commonplace technology you’d find in a standard office.
  • Intelligent Building: With system integration, energy efficiency, and building automation, intelligent building is what most companies strive for in their next-level smart building process. It can lead to more unified collaboration, better asset management, and streamlined workspace and remote services.
  • Smart Building: The core of the pyramid. Smart building includes open architecture, occupant interaction predictive analytics, which contributes to human centric workplace metrics, on-demand services, big data, and more elements of building intelligence. The future of work is already here, and smart building should be a consideration for most companies.
  • Cognitive Building: At the pinnacle of the pyramid we’ll find cognitive building. Here, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics are the vital pieces that drive building automation. While most non-technological companies do not aim for this high-level tier, we believe it’s still essential knowledge to know all the possibilities within the realm of intelligent architecture.

Data-driven Insights to Support the Hybrid Workplace

The digital workplace focuses on the occupant’s experience within a technological ecosystem. A successful digital workplace supports the human-centric side of corporate initiatives. Different personas within the commercial real estate industry will perform unique functions depending on their role in their organization. However, all roles utilize metrics to inform the progress of their digital transformation.

For individual roles, here are some items to consider:

  • Commercial Real Estate and Facilities Managers: Individuals entrusted with managing facilities should articulate workplace values about the broader business. This includes adapting to change, especially as it relates to the physical space. Your growth mindset should shift from fixed to fluid.
  • Workplace Professionals: As a workplace professional, try to develop strategies and tactics that support agile, flexible workplaces and employee experiences. Consider the wider range of knowledge available to you, beyond just “physical office” and “working from home.”

Workplace Euphoria is Frictionless

An agile, flexible workplace is no longer an option for most businesses; it is a requirement. Baseline metrics allow companies to see how initiatives eliminate employee and occupant stress during times of uncertainty, deliver on diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments, improve operational efficiency, and make remote work, workable.

Additionally, metrics shed light into the onboarding of new technologies, security automation, and workplace productivity. Workplace analytics provide a 360-degree view of any misaligned technology expectations. Embracing technology to create agility and flexibility in return to the workplace can result in euphoria for employers and employees.

Keep reading: What Are Smart Workplace Solutions?

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Blog

How to Measure Digital Twin Cost

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator
SpaceIQ

With an increased push toward smarter facilities comes the all-important question every executive needs to ask: how much will it cost? Cost is such an important variable to understand because it sets the tone for ROI. In understanding cost, you also gain insight into things like break-even point, expected ROI, and other important fiscal metrics. Unfortunately, measuring cost isn’t always easy. Case in point: how do you measure digital twin cost?

Digital twins are purely digital investments. While there are software and sensor components that contribute to their architecture, twins themselves aren’t tangible. They live in the cloud and integrate broadly across the organization. How do you measure the invested cost of something so prolific? And, more important, how do you set the benchmark for ROI and other forward-looking metrics?

Though it may seem far from probable, there are ways to measure the cost of a digital twin. Here’s a look at some of the costs that factor in.

What is digital twin?

First, a quick refresher. A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical asset—in this case, the workplace. It provides context for aggregated data about the workplace. Data from the IoT, user input, and integrated applications all flows into the digital twin, where it’s given context as a frame of reference. For example, the on/off stream of data from a seat sensor feeds into the digital twin to represent utilization of that workspace.

Digital twins take all of the data about the workplace, contextualize it, then feed insights to facility managers—usually through a dashboard, like an IWMS. This allows for better understanding of facilities not just as a static asset, but as a dynamic ecosystem. Facility managers and other stakeholders use digital twin insights to better-shape the workplace, in order to cater to the needs of the employees using it.

The cost of building a digital twin

The costs associated with a digital twin come largely from the infrastructure needed to generate the data that comprises one. Here’s a comprehensive look at the key components in architecting a digital twin and how they come together from a cost standpoint.

  • Digital twin software. Digital twin software is the most essential upfront cost, as it’s what will power the digital twin itself. While it’s possible to license pure digital twin software, most companies will want to opt for an integrated digital twin platform such as Archibus. This means also benefitting from IWMS and CMMS features.
  • The Internet of Things. Digital twins thrive on data. The IoT sensors that stream that data represent a significant cost in building a digital twin—and one of the most important costs to justify to stakeholders. From motion sensors to seat sensors, floor sensors to proximity beacons, the data offered by an office IoT is the single most important aspect of digital twin construction. Moreover, it comes with a scaling cost as the need for more sophisticated software becomes apparent.
  • Integrated software. IoT data isn’t the only place digital twins glean information from. Integrated software from room booking systems, maintenance ticketing software, and more all yield crucial data for digital twins. Each software license comes at its own cost, and there are sometimes additional costs in interfacing them—such as if you need to use an integrated platform as a solution (iPaaS) to sync data.
  • Training and education. Digital twins require no small amount of education to set up and manage effectively. These costs factor into their construction, and it’s worthwhile for every company to consider them. Remember to account for upfront training and onboarding, as well as continuing education as technologies evolve.

The actual cost of building a digital twin varies by company and the sophistication of the twin. Companies should observe the cost of architecting such a system and break it down by the individual expenses associated with software, IoT hardware, and training to get a clear understanding of investment expense.

Beyond the cost, look at benefits and ROI

Digital twin technology can be costly to implement—especially for businesses only just beginning to build out their IoT. Unfortunately, these upfront costs tend to suffer criticism from executives who only see a price tag and not an investment. It’s up to motivated facilities managers to deliver a proposition that contextualizes costs with benefits and ROI.

Digital twins are an investment that can help both the top- and bottom-line performance of a company. They’re useful as cost-saving and optimization tools, as well as for productivity enablement. When evaluating the cost of a digital twin, don’t forget to stack up these cost savings and potential revenue improvements alongside it. Remember, the purpose of understanding cost is to contextualize it, which makes it easier to chart a path to justifying it.

Keep reading: Digital Twins – A Revolution in Workplace Management

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Blog Workplace Thought Leadership

Future-Proofing the Workplace with Data-Driven Strategies

By Ian Morley
Chief Product Officer
SpaceIQ

There are many short-term questions for company owners to consider as they reopen for business and welcome employees back to the workplace. Do I have enough space to bring back my entire workforce? Will employees feel safe returning? Do I have too much space and what should I do with it?

The bigger picture is more complicated. There is no crystal ball to say what will happen in two, five, or 10 years. With such an unclear future, businesses must plan for as many scenarios as possible. This “future-proofing” takes data and technologies to analyze it in ways that shed light on how to best plan for all possible scenarios.

During a recent webinar, Ibrahim Yates, Industry Analyst with Verdantix, and I discussed the important roles data and workplace technology play in both making plans to return to the office and long-term planning.

Painting a Workplace Picture

Workplace data provides leaders the insight necessary to truly understand their people. Whether the focus be on productivity, space upgrades, or future-proofing. Data is essential to minimize damage, and unnecessary expenditures.

When data paints the picture, businesses are free to move past the phase of situational analysis. Qualified and quantified information enables better decision-making based on how the workplace functions. Leaders can then prioritize and plan for transitioning employees from home to office.

With a steadfast plan and the initial return underway, the value of workplace technology becomes two-fold. It serves as a means of communication and data collection. The communication component builds employee confidence to return in a safe and effective manner. Data gathering and analysis empowers workplace managers to proactively address issues, forecast impending changes, and plan how to improve processes and interactions down the road. That is future-proofing.

Hoteling as a Strategy

During our discussion on future-proofing, Ibrahim and I immediately thought of hoteling as a key component of an agile workplace. Hoteling provides employees with an easy and intuitive way to reserve space when and where they need it. By collecting usage data, workplace managers can see if additional hotel desks are needed and who is using them. A clearer utilization picture allows for more accurate and impactful planning as workforce levels fluctuate and a company grows.

At a time when health and safety are in the forefront of everyone’s mind, the monitoring feature of hoteling applications creates a solid foundation for contact tracing. “Even when the pandemic comes to a close, people will still care about the health and safety of their workplace,” Ibrahim said.

Contact tracing systems provide concise data through real-time utilization of spaces. Once technology of this caliber is in play, business leaders can move to the last phase of future-proofing by utilizing the tools to monitor and adjust based on data reports from areas such as space demand, employee needs, and safety.

Data to Determine Office Demand

So, are you ready to bring your entire workforce back in office? Before answering this question, you first need to understand the space you have to work with. Are there enough collaborative spaces? Is the office well equipped for social distancing and safety guidelines? Above all, is the workplace environment able to cater to the demand of the people who work there?

Throughout our discussion, Ibrahim stressed the important role quality data plays in ensuring business continuity and building resiliency. Business leaders need data and analytics to prepare for the next crisis or company growth initiative. Data makes the difference between adapting quickly and merely surviving.

The data made available via tools like hoteling take the guess work out of return-to-work planning. The communicative properties within such applications reveal employee behavior like how content they are working from home, who is anxious to return to a physical office, and what scheduling structures they believe best suit their work styles.

Are You Future-proof Ready?

As much as we all may want a crystal ball during these uncertain times, workplace technologies are grounded in reality. A crystal ball shows what the future would look like. Workplace technology culls information from the past and present to help predict future needs.

Before you jump into a new workplace strategy, there are questions you should consider:

  1. What is our new definition of “work”? – It is important to ask why your company works the way it does and how leaders, employees, and external sources can best work together. A great starting point is evaluating what you learned about your business during the COVID pandemic.
  2. How can I make the office important to employees? – The past year proved people can work from anywhere. But a physical workplace offers employees elements they may not get in a home office. According to a McKinsey report, offices provide collaboration, social interaction, connection, and creativity options. Your goal should be to design a workplace that accommodates those needs and more.
  3. Should I embrace a hybrid work model? – A Forrester Research report showed 60% of companies are moving toward hybrid schedules where employees work partly from home. COVID gave many people a taste of remote work they never had. A 2020 survey published by Forbes revealed 97% of people don’t want to return to the office full-time. New workplace designs should support more activity-based structures where employees can easily choose or reserve areas to gather and work while in the office.
  4. How do I get employees involved in future planning? – One of the best ways to gauge effectiveness of future-proofing is through measuring employee sentiment. How? Listen and communicate often. Use surveys to determine how hybrid schedules are working and whether activity-based designs are efficient. Make extra effort to include remote employees in all communications and act on their requests/suggestions to the same level as on-site staff.
  5. Do I have the right technology to future-proof my workplace? – Employee needs are the primary drivers behind how and why you manage a “next normal” workplace. Anticipating and adapting to those expectations takes smart technologies like WiFi sensors, mobile apps, reservation systems, and badging data to quickly adjust to new demands and create spaces that allow people to do their best work.

With companies across the world mapping their path back to the workplace. The technology and data tools available today can encourage employee engagement and a sense of safety. As important is the simultaneous reporting insights necessary for company leaders to move from a position of reactive tactics to proactive, future-proofed strategies.

For more information on how workplace technology can help future-proof your workspaces, visit request a demo.

Keep reading: Hybrid Workplaces are the Future of Work

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Blog

How to Design an Office for Space Utilization

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator
SpaceIQ

The workplace is in the throes of another period of upheaval. As work-from-home becomes a mainstay and flex work the new norm for physical workplaces, the office itself needs to change to accommodate employees better. Specifically, facilities managers need to optimize the workplace for usefulness. The question at-hand is how to design an office for space utilization.

A well-utilized workspace means it’s meeting employee demands. To shape the environment around those demands, facility managers need to understand them. This is easier said than done. It’s not enough to look at what did work or what appears to work. Reinventing the office in a major way means relying on clear and present insights that are data-driven and verifiable.

Here’s how to understand workplace utilization and design around it, to shape a new office that supports employees through the current period of change and beyond.

What is space utilization?

Space utilization is best defined in conjunction with space occupancy. If occupancy is the capacity of a space to accommodate certain people or objects, space utilization is a measure of the degree of use within that space.

For example, if a conference room has occupancy for 10 and only eight people are in it right now, it’s at 80% utilization. A more practical example would be utilization over time. If a hotel desk is available 40 hours per week and is only occupied for 20 hours per week, its utilization rate is 50%. There’s also relative utilization to consider. If Conference Rooms A, B, and C are all available 40 hours per week and see utilization rates of 75%, 80%, and 20% respectively, it’s reasonable to say that Conference Room C’s utilization rate is much lower than the average.

The bottom line on space utilization is that it’s a measure of how much use a space gets. It’s often a reflection of demand, which makes it conducive to observe which spaces see high utilization and model the workplace after them accordingly.

The role of space utilization software

Monitoring and measuring utilization are largely functions of software. Most workplaces have different types of spaces: individual desks, breakout spaces, conference rooms, etc. Utilization software will track how often employees occupy these spaces, for how long, and when. The result is a clear picture of utilization trends. Examples include:

  • Conference rooms see the most use on Thursdays and Fridays
  • Three-person breakout spaces are the most popular flex spaces
  • Hotel desk utilization averages 68% utilization week over week
  • The hours of 10am-1pm see the most room booking activity

Data from room booking software, the IoT, and manual inputs come together to paint a picture of the office as an ecosystem. With information about how employees interact with it, facility managers can better-shape it to their needs, wants, and expectations.

Tips for office space design

The golden rule of office space design is to leverage the data you have. Anecdotal evidence alone won’t tell the whole story. You might think there’s strong demand for hot desks because you see people using them, but what you see might only represent a small percentage of demand. In fact, people may prefer a different type of space altogether—one they don’t have access to because there isn’t enough optionality in the office.

Data provides great insight, but it requires critical thinking to make it actionable. Facility managers need to take insights and put them into practice with context. For example, if there’s demand for more breakout space, you can’t plop it in the middle of a hotel desk cluster—you might risk disrupting a desking concept that works. Instead, use a critical eye to assess space availability and deploy new concepts without disrupting ones that work.

Finally, consider micro and macro scale when making changes to the workplace. For large changes, view the stack plan to better-understand available space and occupancy levels. For space-specific changes, understand the effect on the immediate area of the office. There’s ample opportunity to make change at both levels, but you need to know how your changes affect access to the office and how this will impact utilization rates.

Keep utilization at the forefront of a redesign

The old way of designing offices focused primarily on making use of the space available to you. It was about finding the best way fit people within a space, maximize productivity and minimize friction. Now, the approach has changed to a people-first mindset. It’s not about fitting people into space; it’s about conforming space to fit the people who need it.

Designing with utilization in mind means understanding how employees interact with space and what they expect from it. Then, it’s about using data to shape and allocate space based on those needs. It’s a process that’s more and more data-driven as the workplace becomes more intelligent. Facility managers should use all data available to them to understand utilization and make a concerted effort to create space that aligns with how employees will use it—whether they’re in-office full-time, flexing in and out of spaces, or working remote 90% of the time.

Keep reading: 5 Space Utilization Metrics Every FM Needs to Know

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Blog Workplace Thought Leadership

Impacts of Remote Work: Five Hidden Costs Employers May Overlook 

By Pat Clark
Chief Financial Officer
SpaceIQ

Many states have begun loosening restrictions as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes. Employers are now grappling with the decision of what the future of their offices will look like – and how much it will cost to adapt to a new business normal.

In the past year, companies observed how remote work impacted their internal operations, employee productivity, and overall business performance. Now, when paired with a practical cost/benefit plan, these observations can help companies determine the best path forward: bring all employees back, go with an all-remote workforce, or create a hybrid of the two.

Understanding employees’ workplace needs

Our employees’ well-being has always been a priority, regardless of the pandemic. As we look at transition plans, understanding employee needs and maximizing their engagement is at the forefront of our decision-making. For some SpaceIQ employees, a work-from-home setup is a dream. Others are counting down the days until they can return to a physical office. Many fall somewhere in between – hoping for flexible options to alternate working remotely and in a physical office space.

Managing expectations for a return-to-work plan should be No. 1 for companies seeking to ensure the safety of their employees. Globally, employees have shown that remote work is viable and even preferable for productivity and engagement. Of the estimated 48 million full-time employees in the U.S. who hold a remote-work-compatible job, 82 percent say they would like to work remotely at least weekly. The challenge lies in developing a budget-appropriate plan that offers opportunities to work remotely while resuming uninterrupted operations in a physical office.

Five hidden costs of remote work

Companies often overlook the hidden costs of remote work that should be addressed when considering a work-from-home or hybrid environment. Additionally, these costs can increase with the fiscal requirements of maintaining a physical location.

1. Developing a centralized network infrastructure

Beyond the use of laptops, cables, and monitors, office technology harbors additional costs for communication. Using platforms such as Slack or Microsoft Teams has become more critical than ever for businesses that have reduced face-to-face interactions. Companies that continue to leverage these platforms need to consider the maintenance and security of their network infrastructure.

2. Understanding the soft and hard costs

Nurturing an internal culture with remote workers is critical for employee engagement. The hard costs of remote work are easily calculable, but soft costs surrounding employee connection, team-building activities, or all-hands meetings may be more challenging to pinpoint. Remote work will require additional effort to keep employees connected. For example, our Human Resources and Marketing teams collaborated and coordinated a global gift distribution for employees in Q4 2020. SpaceIQ CMO Nai Kanell led the effort and explained, “It was no small feat and expensive, but it was worth every penny. We want people to know personally, ‘Hey, we’re one team working together regardless of location. We care about you.’”

3. Maintaining data integrity and security after turnover

Data integrity is a critical issue for virtually every company.  One data loss survey conducted by TechRepublic indicated that 95% of the participating organizations say they suffered data loss in 2020. Remote work has led to an increased reliance on email, which increases the potential of unintentional sharing of sensitive information. Moreover, 60% of survey participants reported working in a shared home office or communal spaces where distractions are unavoidable. In addition to confidentiality concerns, distracted employees are more likely to make errors that result in the loss of sensitive company and/or customer data. Increasing employees’ focus on the criticality of maintaining data security through on-going communication and training is critical.

Additionally, companies need to plan well in advance regarding how they will protect their confidential data when employees leave the company. When an employee leaves an organization, companies should take immediate action to collect equipment and protect sensitive information. Many companies choose centralized system control to enable immediate termination of employees’ access to confidential information and company applications, reducing the likelihood of data loss.

4. Budgeting for the costs associated with relocating employees

Many employees chose to relocate during the pandemic.  It is critical that employers know where employees are moving to ensure that the company is not unknowingly becoming liable for income taxes, property taxes, and employment taxes in new states.  Also, where employees choose to live could impact their tax bill if it is somewhere other than where they were working before the pandemic.  Employers and employees should expect that depleted state budgets might prompt states to go on the offensive when it comes to collecting tax revenue from employers and their  employees working remotely, even if it is only temporary. Generally, under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are not required to reimburse employees for work-related expenses incurred working remotely. Even if your state does not require your company to foot the bill for remote work expenses, companies may want to offer reimbursement for the cost of internet, ergonomic equipment, or technology purchases. These can be marketed as company perks but will add to the bottom-line impact of supporting remote work.

5. Adapting operations for geography

For managers with teams now in multiple time zones, shuffling meeting times and juggling schedules is part of the reality of a geographically dispersed team. The amount of time it takes to coordinate moments for team collaboration can place an additional strain on managers who are already struggling to meet day-to-day demands, develop team culture, and adhere to company-wide policies. Organizations that rely on managers to balance these different facets of remote work should be aware of burnout and turnover that may affect their leadership teams.

Remote work options also is pushing many employees to relocate to new cities and countries. A 2020 DSJ Global survey revealed 69% of those polled would move to a different location for a better job. This choice can create complex issues for employers. Business registration in multiple states or countries can be costly and time-consuming. Local tax and labor laws aren’t consistent across borders. Unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance coverage typically is governed by the state where the employee works, not where the company is headquartered. If your business covers relocation expenses, plan to spend upward of $97,000 for current employees and $72,000 for new hires.

Additionally, recruitment is another element that may require additional investment. Kanell says, “We are spending a lot more money on recruiting than we did in the past. We also need to be more flexible in terms of where people can work from. This flexibility entails business registration in the multiple states where we have found top talent to join our team.” Going through the registration process requires administrative costs and time, along with gaining an understanding of the local pay rates for that talent.

Remote work and the agile office

Regardless of the framework businesses choose, remote work has evolved from a loose trend to commonly sought benefit by employees. The post-COVID workplace will be focused on longer term, agile workplace development. Last year has shown us that more companies are going to be embracing a hybrid structure versus the “normal” office that so many of us have grown accustomed to. There is no “normal.”

The benefits of having a remote structure and the need for recognizing the potential additional costs are clearly present, but we also have to remember: It’s not all or nothing. Employers are considering the productivity benefits of staying remote while also understanding the need to keep employees safe in a collaborative, in-person environment.

Companies can embrace better workplace agility by understanding both the financial costs and the employee productivity and job satisfaction implications of remote work.

Keep reading: Boost Team Collaboration with 10 Remote Working Tools

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Where to Get a Healthcare Facility Management Degree

How to Become a Facility ManagerBy Dave Clifton
Content Strategist
SpaceIQ

Healthcare is a booming industry for a number of reasons—an aging population, health epidemics, and the rising cost of healthcare administration among them. With rising demand comes an increasing need for optimization, specifically when it comes to facilities management. This, in turn, pushes demand for qualified professionals with a healthcare facility management degree.

What is healthcare facility management?

Healthcare facility management differs from general facilities management in numerous ways. While space allocation, optimization, and efficiency are at the core of the practice, there’s a much larger dynamic at-play. It’s important that, when they seek healthcare, people are able to get it with as few obstacles as possible—and that their experience is as positive as possible. Much of this experience comes from the availability and navigability of healthcare facilities.

For those who want to pursue a healthcare facility management program, there are plenty of options. Here’s a look at six of the top healthcare facilities management schools in the country and the programs they offer specific to healthcare-focused professionals.

1. Cornell University

One of the eight prestigious Ivy League schools, it’s not surprising that Cornell University offers a healthcare facility management degree. The certificate program is available through the college’s virtual learning program, which makes it highly accessible to anyone who wants to explore this modality while attending a top-rated school. Cornell’s healthcare facilities management program consists of four core courses and four electives, of which students need to select and pass two. It’s an affordable option that carries the prestige of the Cornell name with certification.

2. Brigham Young University – Provo

The Brigham Young University – Provo healthcare facilities management degree isn’t a standalone degree—rather, enrollees will end with certification as a Facility and Property Management (FPM) specialist. That said, healthcare facility administration is a core focus of the program. It’s a program that has won several national awards and it ties into key areas of the college, instead of teaching concepts in isolation. Participants need to be on-campus to participate at this time.

3. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University healthcare facilities management degree is an offshoot of its broader healthcare administration track. Those pursuing a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration will study facility management intensively, to understand the relationship between facilities and patients, medical staff and visitors. This is one of the more robust programs on this list, as it’s a full 120-hour bachelor’s degree and not just a certificate.

4. Temple University

Temple University offers a full bachelor’s program for its facility management degree, and enrollees have the option to choose a specialty within the degree. Many choose Temple’s program because of the healthcare facilities management track, which leaves them with an opportunity to gain one of three designations upon graduation: Facilities Management Professional (FMP), Sustainability Facility Professional (SFP), or Certified Facility Manager (CFM).

5. Missouri State University – Springfield

Healthcare facilities management at Missouri State University – Springfield falls under its Hospitality Leadership degree program. This track offers broad-ranging insights that lend themselves to someone seeking a future in facilities management at a large healthcare facility, such as a major hospital or research facility. This bachelor’s program is one of the most well-rounded for those looking to immerse themselves in the prevailing concepts of healthcare facilities management—everything from clinical staff management to hospital IT and security.

6. Wentworth Institute of Technology

The Wentworth Institute of Technology offers both undergraduate certificate and masters’ programs for facility management. For those in pursuit of a career specific to healthcare facilities, the undergraduate track is more focused in this area (the masters’ program trends toward manufacturing facilities management). Graduates will find themselves with IFMA accreditation and the education they need to affect real change in healthcare facilities of the future.

Choose a program focused on healthcare

Facility management isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept—especially when it comes to healthcare. Each of the above schools offers a program designed to prepare graduates for the nuances of facilities management within the healthcare industry. More important, graduation from any of these programs will land you as a Certified Healthcare Facility Manager (CHFM)—a professional recognized by the American Hospital Association (AHA).

Is it possible for someone with a facility management degree or experience to transition into the realm of healthcare facilities management? Absolutely. That said, it requires no small commitment. For those looking ahead and considering healthcare facilities management, the smart option is to pursue a degree-specific program and graduate as a CHFM. Look into any of the programs above to get started.

Keep reading: How to Become a Facility Manager

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How to Use Commercial Floor Plan Software

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist
SpaceIQ

Floor plans are central to every office space. The way the environment looks, feels, functions, and operates all harkens back to the floor plan. That is to say, a thoughtfully designed floor plan facilitates a productive office environment. A jumbled, piecemeal floor plan certainly takes its toll on productivity and employee happiness. The question is, how do you orchestrate the former while avoiding the latter? It all comes down to commercial floor plan software and your ability to use it effectively.

Floor planning software is a must-have in the age of dynamic offices. The way your workplace looks and operates today may not be what employees expect it to be tomorrow. There’s an element of looming change in today’s office environments. It demands the ability to create and deploy floor plans on-the-fly, and to practice scenario planning with floor plans that are tried and true.

What is commercial floor planning?

Commercial floor planning is the concept of designing space to effectively meet the needs of the people who will use it. Floor plans are what bridge the gap between occupancy and utilization. If occupancy is what a space can accommodate and utilization is how often people use it, a floor plan needs to make use of what’s available to create incentive for utilization.

Commercial floor planning is a more complex process than looking at space size and workspace demand. It requires forethought for everything from cost to operations, and needs to exist at the intersection of numerous crucial variables:

  • Demand for a specific type of space
  • Accessibility based on physical parameters
  • Cost efficiency based on lease costs
  • Governance to ensure utilization opportunities
  • Flexibility based on multiple uses

All these variables come together in a set of parameters that facility managers use to dictate floor plans. For example, if you’re trying to purpose a 12’x16’ space with occupancy for six people, you’ll need to explore desking concepts within these parameters, while paying mind to cost considerations and accessibility.

How to deploy commercial floor planning software

Deploying commercial floor plan software is advantageous to companies because it provides a sandboxing opportunity. Rather than polylining floor plans with pencil and paper, drag-and-drop software makes it easy to tinker with floor plans and adjust in real time. Moreover, software can program in rules and parameters to show space concepts that work, instead of wasting time on those destined to fail.

The best way to use floor planning software is to create a baseline standard for the workplace—one that’s empty of all seats and people. Use this as a template for all floor plan concepts. Then, design different floor plans based on workspace demand. This is important in an agile office, since demand changes. Coming up with the best floor plan generally involves using elements from prepared concepts with different desking arrangements as-needed.

As part of the deployment process, it’s also important to set criteria for different floor plans. For example, a hotel desking floor plan may require built-in time for workspace sanitization. Likewise, an open-concept floor plan may require partitions. As the office evolves, so must the parameters that govern it.

Tips for commercial floor plan designing

While much of commercial floor planning comes down to trial and error in a sandboxing environment, there are some tips that can improve the efficacy of certain concepts. Some helpful tips include:

  • Create zones and model different desking concepts within each zone. This makes it easy to plug-and-play different floor plans without disrupting parts of the office that need to remain static.
  • Utilize integrations wherever possible to automate floor plan design. This can include directory integrations that automatically update employee location as floor plans change or workspaces move.
  • Consider assets while imagining floor plans, to ensure they remain accessible. Think about moveable assets in the context of groups that utilize them and anchor static assets to plan around them.
  • Always consider the prospect of emergency action with each floor plan design. Keep building safety codes in mind and make sure every floor plan iteration offers a quick, accessible, direct course of action in the event of an emergency.

The most important tip is to pay attention to the data. Design commercial environments based on demand and create harmony by incorporating different types of workspaces in ways that make them easy-to-use. And, above all, remember that floor plans today are dynamic, able to undergo change to improve their efficiency.

Change the way you think about floor plans

Traditional floor plans are static depictions of the office. As agile as modern commercial spaces are, there’s demand for floor plans that are equally as adaptable and flexible. This is where software comes into play. It’s about more than drag-and-drop floor planning—it’s about overlaying different options and opportunities to create floor plans that adapt as quickly as the business needs them to.

When you stop thinking about floor plans as static layouts and more as responsive office designs, a brand-new scope of possibilities opens up. As we enter a new age of workplace agility, it’s becoming essential for companies to rely on commercial floor plan software to help them identify opportunities for flexible desking, while keeping utilization trends high. It starts with a clear understanding of workplace demands and ends with software that makes planning for all scenarios simple.

Keep reading: Interactive Office Floor Plan Software Features

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Six Space Utilization Features Every Business Needs

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist
SpaceIQ

Every business wants their workplace to be a productive one. But how do you know if it is without digging into the data? Specifically, space utilization features and metrics can shine a light on how productive and efficient a workplace is by showing how in demand certain spaces are and how much employees use them. There’s a lot to glean from looking at utilization.

In fact, there are plentiful opportunities for more efficient and productive business operations in workplaces that achieve strong and consistent space utilization. Getting employees to use spaces with regularity and be productive while in those spaces enables broad benefits for everyone. Here’s a look at why space utilization is such an important variable in the success of business operations.

What is space utilization?

Space utilization is the rate at which space serves a productive role for a business. It’s also a measure of efficiency. If space utilization is low, the business is likely wasting cost and squandering productive opportunities. If utilization is high, there’s implied efficiency in the willingness of employees to use that space to productive ends.

Space utilization is best expressed mathematically. At the building level, it’s occupancy divided by capacity. If there’s 200 people in a building that accommodates up to 275 people, the utilization rate is roughly 72%. At the workspace level, utilization is the number of occupied hours divided by total available hours. If a desk is occupied an average of eight hours a day out of an available 10 hours, it has an 80% utilization rate.

The metrics of utilization get increasingly complex depending on how you look at them. Utilization isn’t a static percentage in agile offices, and there are different types of utilization to consider. What matters is a high utilization rate using the metrics that best-apply to your workspace.

How to identify utilization rates

The simplest way to identify and understand utilization rates is to rely on space utilization software. Dashboards make it easy to aggregate inflows of data and identify trends that signal high or low utilization rates. For example, if the four standing desks in your workplace have an 85% utilization rate against four phone booth pods with a utilization rate of 35%, there’s a clear preference. Software can show these simple insights, as well as trends and outliers that inform decision-making that shapes the workplace.

Space utilization benefits worth exploring

Why is there such an emphasis on utilization? Because there’s an abundance of space utilization benefits that accompany well-purposed space. Here’s a look at six of the biggest benefits companies can expect to see when they prioritize effective use of the workplace:

  1. Better workplace efficiency. Providing employees with space they’ll use not only results in better workplace utilization—it also increases efficiency. Employees are able to find and use workspaces that suit their needs, and do so with ease.
  2. Improved agility and flexibility. A well-moderated utilization rate enables a workplace to stay agile. Whether it’s hoteling or flexing into breakout spaces, appropriate utilization rates break down barriers that might prevent employees from using spaces efficiently.
  3. Reduced workplace friction. When they don’t feel cramped or restricted in the workplace, employee morale goes up. Higher employee morale leads to reduced friction among staff, and better collaboration and productivity.
  4. Lower cost of operation. Better utilization of available workspace saves companies the cost of wasting money on space they don’t need—or under-utilizing space to a point of losing money.
  5. Bottom-line savings and ROI. When the revenue generated by productive employees exceeds the cost of the space they work in, it signals efficiency. Good utilization rates can actually bring down the cost of operation, to generate even stronger bottom-line savings.
  6. Insights into employee needs. Facility managers who understand the context of space utilization have insight into what employees expect from their workplace. This understanding allows them to make changes that ultimately benefit everyone.

These benefits are only privy to businesses that understand and capitalize on efficient space utilization rates. Just because employees use space, doesn’t mean it’s valuable to them. Utilization tells a tale of the spaces they need and want, so facility managers can tailor a workplace that’s supportive and accommodating.

A focus on utilization can improve business efficiency

Space utilization features heavily into an efficient workplace. When employees have the workspaces they need, they’ll use them. When it’s easy to flex in and out of them, they will. It all boils down to understanding the ebb and flow of the workplace and how people interact with it. A clear understanding of interaction becomes the basis for informed improvements that bolster utilization rates.

There’s significant opportunity to increase utilization rates in workplaces big and small. When they do, businesses will reap the benefits associated with more efficient day-to-day operations.

Keep reading: Make Every Space Count with Space Utilization Software